At St. John’s College, I started questioning everything: concepts of love, honor, death, and my future. Before I transferred to St. John’s, my major was economics and I was somewhat sure that I would work in a trading company after graduation.
However, St. John’s showed me there are many things that I love. By questioning, I got to know myself better, which made me braver to try things that are new and exciting. After my Sophomore year, I decided to take the Design Discovery program at Harvard Graduate School of Design. It was six-week program that allows people with or without design background to experience graduate-level education in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning & Design. It was a great summer, and I fell in love with landscape architecture and urban design.
After this experience, my life at St. John’s also changed. My papers started to express my interest in spaces and trees, I joined and started clubs that involve design work, and I participated in a forum held by an environmental activist group with my tutor. I thought about transferring into a landscape architecture program and diving into the field right away, but I soon changed my mind. Finding a passion outside the St. John’s program allowed me to start appreciating my ability to understand and express design in dialogue, as a Johnnie. (Plus, the books we read in Senior year are so fun, I could not miss that.)
During my Junior year, I started looking for an internship at landscape architecture firms because I wanted to learn more about the field and make sure that an architectural career is what I would want to pursue after graduation. To begin my research, I picked three priorities: I wanted to work in Seoul, I wanted the company to be relatively new and young, and I should like what they had previously designed. Google searching “landscape architecture firm in Seoul” did not help me too much because it gave me too many options. Instagram, on the other hand, gave me easy access to the images that each firm created. After finding some companies on Instagram, I checked their websites, read articles about them, and finally chose two companies to contact.
Writing my first email was the most difficult and awkward part for me. Luckily, I had Career Services there to help me out. They told me what information would be helpful for companies looking at my email and what manner I should have in approaching them as a person looking for an internship. With their help, I wrote my first email, which included a brief introduction of myself and the reasons I wanted to work with them. I also mentioned that I would be applying for the Hodson program, which funds for summer internships for Johnnies, so money should not be the reason for rejection. Both firms emailed me back. One asked for my portfolio. While I was working on making one, the other company contacted me and told me that they wanted to work with me, so I decided to work with them!
After I met them, they told me one of the reasons why they chose to work with me was what I am learning at St. John’s College. They were curious and excited about the perspective that I could bring as a person studying philosophy (and so many other things). Throughout the summer, we got to share many thoughts, not just on “making a garden,” but on the meaning of creating, on the values of the company, on money, on love, on god, and society!
That was another great summer and now, I am a senior. Being a senior is confusing. Life after St. John’s is coming soon. The pressure to have certainty on what is coming up next and realization of the uncertainty of life coexist in me. What I am somewhat sure about is that I will make decisions that are my own and I will direct myself to the place that makes me happy. The freedom that St. John’s has given me made me see more clearly the agency that I have in my life. That is the greatest gift of St. John’s, and something that will be part of me for the rest of my life.