Becoming a Laidlaw Scholar has prompted me to give greater consideration to my post- university career. Whilst the programme has provided tangible benefits- the bespoke leadership training and practice of doing real research- it has also had an immense psychological effect, encouraging me to consider the full range of options available after university.
Prior to the programme, I had given limited thought to the idea of pursuing postgraduate study and I was largely under the impression that I would enter the world of work after graduation. However, my experience has made me consider the prospect of pursuing a career in academia and has led to me being more proactive in assessing the various options available to me. I feel this is one of the reasons the programme is truly great, it doesn’t merely increase academic development but also forces participants to consider their personal development and begin to address the difficult questions surrounding the F word- future. My blog post will link the Laidlaw Scholarship to this daunting word and discuss what I want to gain from the scholarship programme over the next 18 months and where I hope it will take me further down the line.
The autonomy to pursue a research topic of interest was what was initially enamouring about the Laidlaw Scholarship. My research into democratic backsliding in Hungary has been incredibly fulfilling and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to devote time to such an important topic. As I dug deeper into my chosen field, I began to consider the possibility of publishing an academic paper- a mammoth task no doubt but one that has been heartily encouraged by my supervisor, Dr Mateja Peter. However, to do so, we are in agreement that my research cannot be restricted to the summer but must be given attention throughout the academic year also. Here, the autonomy and freedom associated with the scholarship programme is key- my initial plan to examine the EU’s responses to democratic backsliding in Hungary over two summers has evolved into a year-round examination of the demonization of Hungarian businessman George Soros with the potential for producing published academic research at the end. My research will undoubtedly change as I go through the gears which the freedom of the programme allows for and even encourages. The future looks bright with regards to my time as a Laidlaw Scholar- I may end up producing an academic paper (something that would have seemed ridiculous for me a few months ago) but even if I don’t achieve this the leadership skills and research experience provided by the programme are an end in themselves.
In the long-term, the Laidlaw Scholarship has led to me to genuinely consider the prospect of dedicated postgraduate study. I have developed a love for the process of research- the feeling of enlightenment when solving the miniature puzzles each and every researcher poses to themselves everyday is comparable to no other. I have also developed a greater understanding of the vocational aspect to research and how it shapes public policy and also changes lives. A massive part of the Laidlaw Programme is self-reflection and I feel it is the duty of each scholar to take time to reflect on their experience so far and consider how it may shape their future (the blog aspect provides a perfect opportunity to do this). Since finishing- up my research, I have begun the process of planning for my future, meeting with a career advisor to investigate the possibility of postgraduate study in the US. I have also reached out to friends who currently study in the US for advice and have earmarked certain programmes and schools that I feel are compatible with me. One of the big lessons I have taken from my time as a scholar thus far is that the future is right now and I have subsequently been more proactive with planning ahead for my desired path post-university. This directly links in with the leadership aspect of the programme- great leaders must know who they are and where they are going. Whilst I am not fully there yet, the Laidlaw Scholarship has helped me gain a better idea of both these things.
I would like to thank the team at CAPOD for their help and support thus far. I would also like to thank Dr Mateja Peter for her patience and guidance.