Over three weeks have passed since I completed my Laidlaw Internship in Research and Leadership. I reminisce and recount, fondly, the days I spent in the art library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the hours pored over sketches and photographs of some of Alexander McQueen’s most stunning garments, and the time invested into the fashion conferences that I would attend at London College of Fashion. Every time someone asks me, ‘How was your summer? How was Laidlaw?’ I fondly remember these things.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I have just had the best summer of my undergraduate degree. I was in a city that I love (London), reading about and researching my favourite artist and fashion designer (Alexander McQueen), and getting paid to do it. There is a beautiful freedom to the Laidlaw Internship Programme; to choose a topic you love and immerse yourself in it, to become a specialist in it. I’m sure everyone would love their jobs if they could do what I spent my time doing over the summer for the rest of their lives.
I witnessed my confidence grow exponentially over the course of the nine weeks, as I expanded my understanding of performance art, the works of Alexander McQueen and the fashion world in general, and learnt to be secure in my knowledge of it. I have never felt so bold in making an argument in a research essay—to say with assurance that fashion should be considered an art form, and that I had unearthed the evidence to prove it. However, I noticed that my confidence also grew personally. As I took on the responsibility for my time management, my work load, and every detail of my research project, I felt myself improving organisational and management skills. In addition to this, I was constantly meeting new people: fashion curators, researchers at the V&A, art magazine editors, artists… I made sure to take all their business cards, try and make friends, and network with them. These are assets that I know will serve me well for life after graduation, and I felt myself maturing into a young woman that would be able to navigate herself with courage in the ‘real world’.
But I hate the term ‘real world’. Because if the real world equates to life after graduation, what meaning would my life at St Andrews have? If it had not been for my involvement with the Laidlaw Internship during my time at university, I would not have learnt the essential skills that I picked up, and I would not have discovered what I was truly passionate about in terms of careers. University life does entail the real world, and the societies that I am involved with here, the positions of leadership I take up, and the internships that I participate in all contribute to who I am right now. And right now, I am fascinated by my life, I am ridiculously excited for what I will end up doing next year, and I am unafraid of the uncertainty of fourth year. Laidlaw has prepared me for this year wonderfully—I am ready to finish my final year at university strong, and move on graciously to the next big thing.
Words and Images by Vienna Kim.