Grace Wu


Stop #29: Columbus, OH

The last stop on my road trip was Columbus, OH, home of my Alma Mater, the Ohio State University. I had attended the Design Program at the University. I also was part of a Scholars program, back then it was called CommTech, now it’s called Media, Marketing and Communications Scholars, MMC for short. Since then I’ve kept in touch with the MMC Program Coordinator, who I call Dmac (his name shortened). MMC gives students the opportunity to learn computer programs and skills that they’ll need throughout school and after graduation. When I was in the program, I also had taught fellow students how to use Adobe programs that I was using in design classes.

Dmac asked me to come in to talk to his freshman class about freelancing and working in NYC. My first reaction was whoa, really? I didn’t think I had much to tell them. But then I gave myself some credit and since I had survived 11 years in NYC (with 7 of those years freelancing), there was definitely a lot I could tell them. I also realized that these were freshman and with the school year just starting, they most likely were fairly new to this thing called adulting. I was happy to pass on some knowledge from my work experience, I just hoped I was interesting enough for them to listen to!

During my talk, I gave them a quick history of my work experience, showed them some examples of my work, and talked about the pros/cons of freelancing. I also mentioned being open to career change and learning skills you can use in any job. When I was in college, I assumed I’d be working in design for a long time and have long careers like you read about in design history. I think in reality, especially today, that’s not the case. Hopefully the students keep that in mind and I passed along some valuable information to them. (Also, if you are my age and want to feel OLD, these freshman were only 7 or 8 years old when I graduated in 2008. 😱)

Since I was already on campus, I walked around a bit to see all the changes since I was there. And it sure has changed. The dorm where I used to live has been knocked down and a nice, modern building is in it’s place. More dorms have been built (before only freshman were required to live on campus, now it’s also sophomores) and academic buildings. I stopped by the Design Department, which has since moved buildings. I saw an old professor, Paul Nini while he was in one of his classes. The OSU Design School is super small in comparison to the rest of the University. They only have 18 students per discipline per year while the Business school could have thousands per year. It was very nostalgic to walk around campus, and all the students looked so young!

After visiting campus, I headed to the Short North. This area is artsy, filled with galleries, shops and restaurants. When I was in school, we’d come down to this area for Gallery Hop, where once a month all the stores and galleries would be open late on a weekend for new shows and artists. I met a few old friends for dinner. Craig, Jason, and Mike were all in the design program with me. I try to catch up with them when I’m in town. We had dinner at North Market and then headed to Buckeye Donuts. This place has been around forever, open 24/7 and as design students, we’d come here late at night for sugary donuts and coffee to keep us working through the night. It’s a OSU mainstay and I’m glad to see it hasn’t been pushed out from all the development on High Street. It’s always good to catch up with design friends, but it always seems so rushed. Maybe one day, we can reunite our fellow classmates (we called ourselves VC08, short for Visual Communications 2008) and have a grand reunion.

While in Columbus, I stayed with my friend Christia. We went to high school together and she moved to the area a few years ago. She has an adorable house to the north of Columbus, complete with an adorable dog named Lily. I hung out with Lily all day while I relaxed and caught up on the blog.

Next stop is home to Cleveland!

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