It’s definitely been a lesson in backing myself and my abilities.
It’s an adage you’ve heard countless times, but Harriet Wilson knows better than most that “you’ve got to be in it to win it”.
Earlier this year, the final-year Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Politics, Philosophy and Economics student was named a 2020 Top100 Future Leader of Australia and one of 10 national finalists for the Ashurst Law Award.
“Generally speaking, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt and lived by at uni is that you can’t have any expectations that opportunities will fall into your lap,” she says.
“Even if you don’t know what you want to do, it’s so important to put yourself out there and try new things. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll just learn something’s not what you want to do.”
The Top100 Future Leader Awards recognise outstanding future graduate students across the country. Sponsored by graduate employment and internship platform Grad Connection and The Australian Financial Review, the competition gives students the opportunity to meet top graduate employers and hone their application skills.
Harriet discovered the competition about a year ago while browsing work experience opportunities at GradConnection. She decided to apply “on a bit of whim”, joining a field of 1,800 applicants nationwide of whom around two-thirds were chosen for psychometric testing.
This was further narrowed down to 300 for the video interview stage, before the 100 finalists were named.
“When I found out how many people had applied, I was blown away. I thought if I was in the top 100, they must have just had 100 people apply and everyone got in,” she says.
“It’s definitely been a lesson in backing myself and my abilities. As much as it came as a surprise, you have to remember they put you in there for a reason.”
As a finalist, Harriet attended the competition’s awards ceremony in February in Sydney. Earlier in the day, she took part in an assessment centre that included delivering a presentation to and participating in an interview with representatives from international law firm Ashurst.
Originally from Brisbane, Harriet was drawn to ANU for the opportunities that come with studying law in the nation’s capital. Last year, she interned at the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and was active in the Women in Law Organisation mentoring program.
However, one of her most formative experiences was her work with Legal Aid ACT that included a semester-long clinical program at the organisation’s Youth Law Centre.
From community to government legal work, Harriet continues to experience the breadth of the legal profession in her current role as an Undergraduate with KPMG Law, where she has worked September 2019.
“I think the opportunities for such varied experiences is what sets ANU apart,” says Harriet, who this semester is undertaking a thesis exploring alternative intervention methods to domestic violence.
“It might make it hard to choose the path you want to take, but it has consolidated the skills and experience I have now.”
And if you’re thinking of following in Harriet’s footsteps for next year’s Top100 Future Leaders Awards, the message is simple: you’ve got to be in it to win it.
“To anyone considering being involved, I would just say apply. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get through, but you would’ve learnt how to put together an application,” she says.
“And if you do get through, it’s a unique opportunity to have a direct line of contact with some of your potential future employers.”
Applications for the 2021 Top100 Future Leaders Competition open in August 2020. See here for more info.