The Top100 Awards aims to identify Australia’s top future graduate talents. The program, hosted by GradConnection, The Australian Financial Review and Chandler Macleod, gives undergraduates the opportunity to experience the typical job recruitment process.

Students who apply take part in a highly competitive graduate recruitment pipeline, including interviews with some of Australia’s top employers.

This year, 33 UNSW students were named the most employable students, the highest of any university. Four outstanding science students were recognised in this year’s awards; we spoke to three of them about the significance of their achievements, and any advice they have for future students.

Saraa Al-Saddik, Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)

Saraa Al-Saddik is a psychology student in her fourth year at UNSW. Saraa won the Transition Hub First in Family Top100 Future Leader Award.

As well as winning an award, Saraa was also in the running's for the Suncorp Resilient Communities Award.

Outside of her studies, Saraa is a keen reader. She is passionate about instilling confidence in young Muslim women, “I aim to prove that no matter what background we come from, we can prove our worth no matter what path we decide to take.”

Saraa has taken part in other career opportunities whilst studying at UNSW including a Work Intergrated Learning (WIL) course, applying her disciplinary knowledge and skills to a real-world problem from a partner organisation. At an exciting point in her academic career, Saraa is in the process of deciding whether to pursue a combined Masters/PhD in Psychology.

Jessica Mackay, Bachelor of Commerce / Advanced Science

Jessica Mackay (second from left) was a finalist for the Westpac Banking, Insurance & Financial Services Top100 Future Leader Award.

Jessica Mackay is a third year UNSW student studying Commerce and Advanced Science.

Jessica has interned at Macquarie Capital and JP Morgan alongside roles as the President of the UNSW Consulting Club, Secretary at the Financial Management Association of Australia (FMAA) and member of UNSW’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee. 

With all this fantastic work experience, Jessica was a finalist for the Westpac Banking, Insurance & Financial Services Top100 Future Leader Award.

“It was a pleasure to be surrounded by so many exceptional UNSW finalists and awardees who have all inspired me to step up and take responsibility as a future leader in the academic and corporate world,” says Jessica. “As a result, I attribute my success to the quality of education I have received at UNSW which has crafted me into the person I am today.”

When asked for advice for students looking to apply to the Top100 Awards, Jessica recommends applying for the award that aligns most greatly with your current experience, values and extracurriculars. “All students are eligible and should be encouraged to demonstrate how they are contributing 1% every day to making our world a better place.”

Sarah Khan, Bachelor of Commerce / Aviation (Management)

Sarah Khan (pictured on the right) was a finalist for the Unilever Sales and Marketing Top100 Future Leader Award.

Sarah Khan is studying Commerce and Aviation Management at UNSW and was a finalist in the Unilever Sales and Marketing Top100 Future Leader Award.

Whilst studying, Sarah is also completing an internship at Canva; having also gained technology and marketing experience through previous internships at Accenture, Deloitte, UNICEF Australia & Westpac.

“I applied to the AFR Top 100 Future Leaders competition because put simply; I had nothing to lose,” says Sarah. "I have met many brilliant minds, especially in the Faculty of Science and would love to see more UNSW Science students in the 2024 Future Leaders list; but that can only happen if you apply!”

Sarah says that being a finalist gave her the opportunity to experience the recruitment process without the stress of applying for a job. “It's basically a practice run before you start applying for graduate roles. It also allowed me to meet so many other fantastic students and build my self-confidence.”

“If you take that first step of applying, you can then focus on refining what you learnt in your degree or work and then translate it to soft skills. What qualities about yourself make you a good leader?  Think of scenarios where you display these qualities; this will help you in your written application and even assessment centre stage.

Another piece of advice is do not feel as though you need to be from a particular area of study to apply. This is open to all students from all disciplines of study. It is the qualities you display as a person which will take you far.”

If like Saraa, Jessica and Sarah, you’re interested in the Top100 Future Leaders program, you can find out more about the awards, here.   

  • Michelle Huynh, Bachelor of Engineering Science / Science graduate (Psychology major), was also a finalist for the Jacobs Sustainability Top100 Future Leader Award.

Hero Image Caption: UNSW Psychology student Saraa Al-Saddik won the Transition Hub First in Family Top100 Future Leader Award.