Weiwei Lu ’23

Young Guns Institute of Creative Studies, Canada

Over this summer, I worked as an intern and teaching assistant at the Young Guns Institute in my hometown of Vancouver, Weiwei Lu '23 sitting at deskCanada. Young Guns is an art studio founded by Peterson Young with a focus on helping high school students embark on their creative path through assistance with portfolios, college applications, and personal/artistic developments. Although I used to be a student there, I was extremely excited to understand this industry and field from an alternative perspective. My position and involvement in the studio actually changed drastically after beginning my internship: I had expected to be a teaching assistant, but was given many other responsibilities in the realm of administrative interns. For example, a major ongoing project during my time there was keeping track of current and incoming students’ information, including their summer schedules (which had to be redesigned every few days to reduce and limit the number of individuals in the studio at any given time), their portfolio and college application statuses, their artistic weaknesses to be mindful of, as well as weekly progress reports on their current projects. Those tasks were decidedly a struggle for somebody like me, who has never been naturally great at organizational tasks; however, I was able to greatly improve my abilities to both keep track and arrange information in a digestible manner, an indispensable technical skill that will serve me well into the future. Another major part of my experience was the creation and curation of key assignments that will be (and has been) distributed among the students in grades 10-11 designed to aid in their self-exploration and takes them through a sequence of tasks ranging from producing long spreadsheets to writing a reference letter for themselves five years down the line that compels them to reflect deeply about their identity, creative passions, prospective majors, appropriate post-secondary education programs, and their vision of what the future may hold.

One of the most direct and affecting incidents that happened during my internship was when I had to confront a student about their unsatisfactory work ethic. As a prospective photography major, the student was given a self-portrait drawing assignment that was outside of their comfort zone. Through effort, I was able to persuade the student to consider an alternative response other than simply giving up when facing a necessary challenge: to consciously take note of every step of failure along the way; and grow from them.

My internship at Young Guns was full of interactions such as this where I could feel the tangible difference that I have made in somebody else’s life. I am immensely grateful to Mary Richardson Anderson, as well as the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for this opportunity. I have always enjoyed working with people, and this experience further reaffirmed my desire to instill lasting change in communities in a meaningful manner, which will continue to inform my choice of majors (either sociology, history, or comparative literature) and my future career path.