When Heather Wilkie decided to study at Heriot-Watt University she never dreamt it would set her on a path to San Francisco.
But the talented 22-year-old, who graduated in June from the University's School of Textiles and Design, has secured a 'mind-blowing' opportunity with one of the world's largest clothing companies, Old Navy.
It is a journey that began just four years ago when Heather chose Heriot-Watt's Design for Textiles course, delivered at the University's Galashiels campus.
Choosing the School of Textiles and Design has been an amazing experience for me and I would recommend to anyone who wants a career in this industry.
It was in her third-year, however, that Heather's big break came when she became the only student in Scotland to earn a three-month internship with Old Navy. She joined the company's graphics team at its impressive headquarters in San Francisco in June 2018, where she worked on key projects, gaining rare insight into the hugely competitive industry.
She explains: “It was an incredible experience, everyone was very friendly and looked out for me. What really surprised me, though, were the techniques I'd been taught at Heriot-Watt were the same as I was being shown at Old Navy.
“I had not expected that and it gave me a great confidence boost to know I'd been equipped with the skills and knowledge relevant to industry.”
Heather's knowledge and ability to learn impressed senior company figures and in May this year, she received a phone call out of the blue.
“The phone rang one day and I was offered a full-time job in San Francisco,” she recalls.
“I couldn't believe it, I was absolutely blown away. My mum and dad were really pleased for me and are already looking forward to visiting on holiday!”
Born in the Philippines but raised in Glasgow, Heather's path to working in fashion and design began when she displayed a flair for art at Castlehead High School in Paisley.
This would eventually lead her to choose Heriot-Watt's School of Textiles and Design, a decision she never regretted particularly after witnessing the close collaboration between the School and major global companies.
She continued: “Choosing the School of Textiles and Design has been an amazing experience for me and I would recommend to anyone who wants a career in this industry. The facilities are amazing and you get the opportunity to work independently on projects, which really appealed.”
Among the first to congratulate Heather on her new job is Professor Fiona Waldron, Head of School at the Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design.
She said: “Heather's story underlines the incredible opportunities that exist in this industry and our responsibility, as a university, is to help each and every one of our students achieve their goals.
“A huge number of our students go on to forge successful careers and we take great pride in teaching them skills and techniques that last a lifetime.”
Heather will begin her new role as a Print Design Assistant for the Menswear Print Team at the end of this month.
By Craig McManamon
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