STEP Reflection – Computer Build


See the link below for a 5 minute overview of the build!
Time Lapse – Computer Build

See this link for notes and proposal materials:
STEP Project – Google Drive


Garrett Maag

Creative Endeavors Project

  1. The goal of my project was to build my knowledge around computer hardware. This involved researching each component and its functions, constructing a computer, and understanding how the software works with the hardware to create the user experience.
  2. This project not only enhanced my understanding of computer hardware, but also my confidence in my own ability to work with it. At the beginning of this project, I had never before reached inside a computer. The closest I had come to this was watching a technician open up my laptop and replace the motherboard. Even as I began planning this project, I was nervous about handling the internal components and thought of them as being extremely sensitive and pervious to damage. After completion of the project, I gained a sense of accomplishment and capability that I’ve never felt when dealing with computers before. This confidence will help me not only when working on electronics, but in every new challenge and uncertainty I encounter down the road.
  3. Throughout the research phase of my process, I spent countless hours reading about each component and its purposes, watching online videos of other people building computers, and talking to friends and coworkers who have completed their own builds. This helped me develop a good idea of the purpose of each component and the possibilities attainable through selecting different parts.

    As I began my summer at Cooper Tire, the project provided me with numerous networking opportunities as I found people in IT were very interested in hearing about it and willing to share their knowledge with me. I spoke with managers to obtain approval for completing the build in the office, coworkers who took a keen interest in what I was working on, and was also referred to speak with ‘computer pros’ that people knew around the company. Each and every person I talked to about the project was very intrigued by it and this gave me a chance to expand my professional network. I was able to find people willing to review my build blueprints with me and they offered helpful suggestions on improving the build as well as knowledge they’ve obtained over the years through working with changing technologies.

    This project also presented opportunities to grow in cultural awareness. One of my coworkers, Abdul Sabir, grew up in India and had a lot of experience in working with computers. He told me about his family and how he had built a computer for them to use when he was in college. He is the oldest of 8 siblings and he said that each one of his younger siblings went on to make improvements and repairs to the computer, and they were all able to use it while living at home. This led to a discussion about multi-generational households; a norm in India, and what life is like for his family back at home. It also demonstrates how valuable it is to be comfortable working on computers and improving them over time. Whereas in the U.S. we have a habit of throwing things out and buying new once they stop working for us.

    In mid-June, once all of my parts had arrived, I was prepared to move forward with the build. At this point, I still had a lot of uncertainty about working with the components and my knowledge about the build was largely fragmented – in that I knew a lot about the different parts but didn’t quite know how to get them all installed and working with each other. Luckily, my coworker Karl had an extensive background as a computer repair technician for both laptops and desktops. He graciously provided guidance and offered suggestions throughout the build process. This was when everything I had been working on over the past months really came together. My knowledge was no longer fragmented, I could see a visual representation of all of the research I had been doing, and I had a newfound sense of confidence in my abilities for jumping into something new.
  4. The knowledge gained through this project is extremely valuable to my career. As a Business student specializing in Information Systems, I never have the opportunity to work hands on with internal computer hardware through my coursework. I no longer look at a computer with a sense of wonder and curiosity, but rather an understanding of each component and the intricacies of each part which work to deliver the end user experience. This experience has already helped me to help others. My parent’s optical drive went bad on their desktop in early July. Instead of paying to ship it back to the company and have it repaired for ~$100, I helped them locate a replacement part online for $16 and was able to take the computer apart and do the replacement on my own. In a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on computers in day to day life, skills such as this are vital.

STEP Computer Build

For my STEP creative endeavors build I built my very own high end computer. This Computer is capable of running taxing simulations, can construct 3D models with ease, and runs everything from solidworks to various games with immense ease. This project required me to research the individual components and inter workings of computers as well as the part assembly into the final machine.

I learned from this build what the human race has been able to achieve with the cutting edge of technology. Bringing stunning graphical displays and strenuous simulations to light and truly pushing the edge of what is imaginable and now feasible it is only a matter of time before I can bring my own personal innovations to light and into reality. I also saw that I can adeptly learn about a new concept such as computer assembly and parts given the time and dedication to study. I was able to call upon my connections in the field of computer science for expert opinions and more extensive knowledge into how a computer actually functions and how all the parts work together in conjunction.


I was able to go to my friend David, who is a computer science engineer for part selection recommendations and more knowledge as to what each individual part does. I was able to see how my friends from the past are still leading key roles in my life and that I can go to them when needed for not just personal and entertainment endeavors but also professional ones.

I was also able to go to my friend Matt who is also a computer science engineer. Once I had collected all of my parts he helped me in the assembly process and startup of my computer as well as showing me how to properly monitor and maintain the more delicate parts of my computer such as the CPU, GPU, and SSD when I go to overclock my computer to really push it to its limits when running simulations such as flow studies and fluid simulations as well as monitoring the heat affected zone of a weld.


Once I had my computer up an running I felt a huge sense of accomplishment because i had put together a marvelous machine that I know I will be using in my professional and collegiate career for years to come.

I plan on going into the field of research and development. this field obviously will require a lot of prototyping and running of simulations in order to validate a design. I hope to combine my knowledge of Welding engineering with the coding and 3D modelling skills I have acquired thus far as well as those I will attain in the coming years as I finish out my degree. now that I have a machine fully capable of running these kinds of simulations I can begin to fully go on to create my own designs and prototypes for the future.


-Will Braun STEP Computer build 2017


STEP Computer Build Reflections 2017

1. This project was to challenge myself by learning how to build a desktop computer. I already had the case to assemble it, so I only needed the internal parts, and learned how to handle and assemble them. I also learned how certain components interacted with each other, to help troubleshoot problems.

2.  When I first started this project, I thought that I already knew a lot about computers and that it would be a fairly simple process. I discovered that it was much more difficult than I originally thought, and I needed to go to others for help. Building a computer led me to recognize and realize the value of my support network. In addition, it gave me insight into how I view the world, and how that view has changed. There is so much to every aspect of our lives to rediscover. My project helped me to learn the value of true understanding—it was not just about knowing where the parts go, but about handling them, and knowing how they interact. All of these things translate into skills, which are applicable in other, bigger projects. However, this project was not just about completing a goal or learning about computers. This project was about setting my mind to the goals that I have and pushing myself to achieve them. To me, this project was about goal-setting, planning, and accomplishing. These are in every aspect of life, and I learned new ways to approach my own goals.

3. The events that really inspired this change started when I first began my project, then when I completed my project. When ordering the parts, I found that they costed around what I planned. The tax for some was surprisingly large. The sheer number of pieces all boxed and laid out in front of me when I first started was much more than I originally thought it would be. I organized my build by what needed to be done first, and started on them one by one. This was what helped me to learn how to work through a large and complicated project—to work it into manageable sections and focus only on what needs done at one time while taking the big-picture plan into consideration.

The mid-way point through my project felt repetitive—I removed and reassembled the CPU fan on the motherboard, which involved taking off the back of the tower. Taking a break and coming back helped me to stay refreshed and focused on what matters. I decided to take the time to enhance my knowledge about what I was doing—really reading through the manuals and directions as well as consulting others allowed me to get started faster. Without the challenges from this computer build, I would not have been able to grow as a person, bettering my abilities to deal with frustration, finding resources to learn how to assemble as well as diagnose problems for the computer, and how to approach problems in my life.

Toward the end of my computer building-process, I thought that it was completed—but then it did not start. It took me some time to troubleshoot to discover the problem, and to correct the problems. This portion was the most difficult for me, and I discussed the issue to my family, friends who have completed STEP, and my brother, who also is working through his STEP project. After taking off several big parts, the large video card, the memory sticks, and the CPU fan, and putting them back on firmly and without interfering with the other pieces already in place, the computer started. It was a lot more complex and intensive than I thought would be, and I realized the value of a support network as well as skills to complete large independent projects.

4.  This computer project taught me a lot about myself, and how I deal with frustrations and setbacks. I learned about how to better deal with frustration, and ways to prepare, plan, and overcome setbacks in life, not just in my project. Building a computer showed me how to approach goal-setting. I was ale to recognize the true value of hard work and dedication, and the challenges that exist in every endeavor. This is always a personal goal of mine, and I am glad that I had this project to improve upon myself and make myself a better person. This was an academic goal of mine as well, because I needed to learn so much about computers to complete it—something that I have wanted to do for quite some time but had not been able to. This also fulfills a professional goal of mine: to have a highly functioning computer to use and have something reliable to do all my professional needs on. The reason I chose this project was so that I could work on all my goals, and not necessarily just one aspect. STEP has given me the opportunity to achieve my goals and make these transformations. This computer build has given me the tools to develop myself, broaden my perspectives, and to accomplish what I set my mind to.

Trip Reflection








Jonathan Rawley
Creative Endeavor
The main objective of my project was to go on a 6-week-long trip to the western United States to explore various national parks. My project was based on video recording physical activities that go on in these parks, as well as to meet with park rangers and explore the programs set up by the National Park Service.
When on this trip I found a passion I’m confident I wish to pursue when I graduate from college: finding ways to incorporate physical exercise into exploring the great outdoors. I believe that I have found a career path that will allow me to grow as a person in this passion and career goals. When I first left for the trip, I assumed a lot about the experiences that I would have on the trip and how each of the members in the group would respond to them. The trip completely exceeded my expectations and really showed me a different side to the world compared to where I live in Columbus. Pictures of the places I traveled to can only capture so much, but when you are there, standing on that rock or mountain, it can truly take your breath away. This project took me to lot of places with people from all walks of life that showing me hospitality, from fellow campers to knowledgeable rangers, as well as an understanding of the area.
My project allowed me to change myself and experience many situations in a relatively brief period. My view of the world was focused on my surrounding area of which I lived. The project showed me that I want to work with kids and move to a western state so that I might contribute my skills to the National Parks. Before the trip, I didn’t know the opportunities that were out there for my major in the National Park system that will allow to follow my passion of teaching physical activity but also educate the youth about conservation.
The huge realization came for me during the last park scheduled in our trip, Yellowstone National Park. Small periods of time before that started to get my mind thinking, but it was all put together when I met with Judy Knuth Foltz who is the director of Education and Youth Programs for Yellowstone National Park. She enlightened me on so many programs that she had started for the park service has created to help educate the public on the parks. She has started multiple programs that involve my major including Yellowstone Junior Ranger Wildlife Olympics, Yellowstone Junior Ranger program, and the Let’s Move Outside program. Yellowstone has more programs that work with education as well, like The Youth Volunteer Program and Junior Scientist program. Each of these programs run through Judy. Previously, I mentioned how I found a direction of my career goals, and she showed me that direction.
Her position is driven to educate children to get active in the parks and create a divide from the modern world, and the simplicity of the parks. To have an opportunity to work in the national parks to find programs that all youth can get active in as well as learn about conservation is what I want to work and this trip has lead me in that direction. Each program that she has created aligns with OSU’s teaching programs and the idea of getting youth active in a variety of ways that will challenge them and keep them intrigued. The Junior Ranger Wildlife Olympics is a simple concept that has fitting examples of being active, learning in the parks, and helping young children learn key motor development. I have included a picture of the document used for the program.
The other parks that we traveled to seem to have a lack of these programs because it is based off what direction the directors took and where they wanted to focus their time and money. This is another experience that when looking back on the trip made me want to go and help those other parks that didn’t see all the wonderful programs that happen in Yellowstone through Judy. It gives me a passion to go out a seek opportunities in those parks and create the programs that will benefit the education and physical activity sections of the Park System. I learned that it is important from experiences to know the proper precautions when it comes to being active in the parks, as well as how the youth and even the adults can benefit from programs to teach proper techniques of hiking, staying hydrated, and being safe overall in the Parks.
I mentioned previously that I have found a purpose and passion for my future after I graduate. I hope to gain knowledge in the areas that I need to be successful in this journey, as well as make myself better and more well-rounded person. This change is very important because it justifies all that I have worked so hard for, and I can show everyone how one event can change your life for the better. It’s not easy finding something you’re passionate about. I believe this trip has done both of those for me, allowing me to search for those opportunities, as well as those opportunities finding me. Going into the trip I was searching for opportunities for physical education in the parks, and my project has shown me a new path to follow to achieve my goals.

STEP Reflection

For my STEP project, I chose to dive into my newfound hobby of baking and to explore my interests in the related career options. This entailed three components: interviewing a local entrepreneur, shadowing at a bakery, and attending a week-long pastry camp.

Before completing my project, I was very apprehensive. I never took an interest to baking until a year ago, in the summer of 2016. My family doesn’t require a ton of equipment to make our everyday meals, so when I did begin loving baking, I had to convince my parents the necessity of owning the various tins and utensils that came with the activity.

The costs quickly added up, and with it, I began to question if I was spending wisely. I have always been very fickle with my hobbies and interests, growing into and out of activities in a span of a few weeks. I was interested in knitting for a month, then stopped; liked drawing for two years, then slowly grew apart from it; what will make baking any different? If in a few years I won’t ever want to bake another pastry again, why bother spending so much money on the equipment now?

That’s when my STEP project also became an opportunity for me to expose myself to the realities of baking, in all of its hardship and rigor.

And that’s why I was apprehensive: I was worried that I would come away from my STEP experience disliking baking and regretting all the equipment I had purchased; I didn’t want to hear the “I told you so” from my parents. But on the other extreme, I was afraid I would actually love baking so much that I would want to stop pursuing a major in Industrial Engineering, stop attending Ohio State, and enroll in a culinary school—a difficult decision I didn’t ever want to make. (On hindsight, yes, I am quite dramatic)

Then came another thing to worry about: traveling on my own for the very first time. Through my STEP experience, I have learned to budget, map out, and plan how I want to spend my money and where I want to go. While daunting at first, as the days went by, I slowly grew to enjoy my alone time—in fact, I even preferred being on my own while some of the adults in my baking camp constantly felt the need to be with other people who were in our group.

I went to class on the first day not knowing what to expect and was surprised with the immense differences between baking at a legitimate pastry school and baking at home, which honestly shouldn’t have been surprising. At the French Pastry School they scale everything by weight and measure using the metrics system. We used convection ovens (provides better air flow), deck ovens (has the ability to add steam for bread baking), chocolate coolers, thermometers, bulk ice cream machines—you name it.

However, something that I really didn’t expect happened after my first class: we were each left with a dozen blueberry muffins, eight scones, and two loaves of banana bread, products of the recipes we learned that day. And that was just the first class! I had four more days to go, what was I supposed to do with all the baked goods I would accumulate throughout the week?

Then it suddenly occurred to me that I could give them away to the homeless that populated the streets in downtown Chicago. After purchasing sandwich bags and repackaging my baked goods, I began walking the streets of the Loop and asking people if they wanted a muffin or two.

I was hesitant at first, since talking to strangers was never a strong suite of mine and my parents have always lectured me about staying away from potentially dangerous situations. But after asking a few individuals, my confidence grew and I was able to give away everything I had made. The joy I felt at that moment flooded my mind and heart—I couldn’t stop smiling.

Despite the fun I was having, after a “Honeymoon period” of two days, I realized I was a little disappointed with the camp. The equipment we used and the recipes that were provided seemed to be tailored to baking in a pastry kitchen and didn’t seem possible to recreate at home. The precision that was required also wasn’t something I was used to; I wanted to get to a point where I could just follow my gut, not rely on a thermometer for every recipe. When I finally came to terms with this and found closure, I realized something really important about myself: I really like making people happy by sharing the food I make.

And that’s the reason why I enjoy baking.

I wasn’t the kind of person who liked baking enough to attend a culinary school. Baking at a culinary school entailed the precision and intensity that would be woven into my everyday life, something I wasn’t keen on having happen. On the other hand, the idea of making birthday cakes for my friends, helping out for a wedding reception, making food for my coworkers and family members, gets me extremely excited.

This discovery was pivotal in the way I viewed my future career plans. Recently, I’ve considered opening my own café, but was hesitant because of the uncertainty and hardship it would entail. A semester ago, I wanted to change my minor from Computer and Information Systems to Food Processing, because I thought I wouldn’t be able to bake well if I didn’t gain college-level knowledge on the topic.

After meeting with a local entrepreneur, The Cheesecake Girl, and shadowing the head baker at Red Velvet Café, I realized that baking can be done without a degree related to food—in fact, The Cheesecake Girl went to school for broadcasting and the head baker at Red Velvet was a Civil Engineer. Baking just takes passion and persistence, you simply have to practice and gain experience.

Becoming an entrepreneur is also something that doesn’t have to be feared. Talking with The Cheesecake Girl, I realized that starting small is key. The Cheesecake Girl never planned on opening her own business—she started out as a hobbyist, making delicious cheesecakes for her friends and family, until her popularity grew so big that the local bakeries demanded that she get a license.

On the other hand, the Red Velvet Café started up as a last resort for the head baker’s family. In difficult financial times, they decided to take a risk and open their own business, utilizing the long-established skills of the head baker (which also started as just a hobby!).

After interviewing a start-up owner, shadowing a café, and attending a pastry camp, I now know baking isn’t “just a phase” for me—that I truly enjoy doing it. I may not know if I’ll be able to run a successful start-up, or if I’ll end up keeping baking as just a hobby, but there are three things I am sure of: one, I don’t have to major in something related to business or food to be an entrepreneur; two, I would never enjoy baking at the professional level; and lastly, I am very happy I attend the Ohio State University for a degree in Industrial Engineering.


Baked goods from the first class.


Class picture at the end of the pastry camp.

STEP Computer Build

  1. My STEP project was to build my own desktop computer. This involved selecting and purchasing appropriate parts and assembling them on my own to gain a better understanding of computer hardware.


  1. This experience developed my ability to interact with computers, with both hardware and some software components. I went from nearly zero technical ability, including with items that I needed to interact with and understand daily, to being able to not only customize and build basic desktop computers, but also to make repairs, changes, personalization, and troubleshoot computer hardware. These skills have buffered and augmented my liberal arts education and have helped me to flourish as a well-rounded individual.

  1. There were many events and interactions with faculty, friends, and family during this project, all of which contributed to its success as a transformational experience and towards its actual completion. During this project, I received advice and assistance from my friend Sam in computer science and engineering, who helped me brainstorm and figure out what parts would be appropriate, and a basic background know-how that came in handy later. This helped me to understand the what and why of the project, which contributed a lot to developing my own ability to make proper calls for what parts to use and which to purchase.

I also developed a better relationship with Classics Professor Aaron Palmore. He guided me through a nitty-gritty difficulty I encountered, which was a problem I have encountered before but was unable to resolve then. My computer’s central processing unit was on the fritz—but I did not know that yet. We corresponded over the summer thinking about how to fix the problem (the computer would not start!). With his insight and assistance, I could effectively troubleshoot and eliminate irrelevant choices. This skill was useful, and I eventually pinpointed the problem with the CPU. I fixed this problem and got the computer running. This relationship and interactions over the course of the middle of June got my project back on track and I finished it on time and well.


The skills afforded to me by this project were more than the basics I first mentioned. It would be a dishonesty not to include the ever-important abilities of independent work, which was a major goal of my project, along with time management, money management to economize for a better model, and even coordination with effective communication. Knowing how to build desktop computers is not the real takeaway from this project—it was learning how to learn quickly and effectively about something of which I am ignorant. This skill is what I really value about this experience.

  1. I learned how to build a desktop computer. I now know how to fix problems I have had before, how to avoid them, how to change parts and upgrade, and much more. By being equipped with the tools to better handle technical work in general and self-education on topics outside of my specialty area, I have utilized this project to its fullest and have gotten a lifelong appreciation of learning and practice, and the former is especially important since I appreciate expanding my horizons and pushing outside of my comfort zone, expanding my interests and seeking well-rounded education. I went beyond my usual interests in philosophy and economics, and developed a basic understanding of something entirely different, which is what I valued about this project.

Creative Endeavors Reflection

My project was part of the Creative/Artistic Endeavors category. I went to Monterey Bay, Yosemite National Park, and Lake Tahoe California. As part of my STEP project I learned to relax and go with the flow as well as push myself physically and mentally.

The transformation that occurred while I was doing my project was my mindset. My mindset on how we get our food changed. In Monterey, I was able to see how their seafood is sustainably harvested. Water means more to them because of their previous droughts. California’s conservation on food and water is something that isn’t seen in the Midwest. They term their resources as “precious” and I feel that the United States as a whole should embrace that mentality in order to see a change; instead of a single state.

Another part of my mindset transformation was in Yosemite. Upon arrival, I was breath-taken by the amazing views that our country has to offer. The people surrounding me seemed to be from a variety of different nationalities. I feel as though so many people are not taking advantage of nature and what is has to offer and are therefore losing touch with it. In addition to this, my mindset on what I can do and can not do changed from the challenges I faced while exploring the beauty of the park.

The views that nature has to offer are often indescribable. Not even pictures can do it justice. This gave me a new insight on how much nature can give people a sense of serenity. I was relaxed and had not a worry in the world besides looking at the amazing views in front of my eyes. It wasn’t just Yosemite but every place I visited, amazed me in different ways.

I learned more about myself during my project than I thought possible. I climbed the infamous Half Dome while at Yosemite and pushed my body to limits I didn’t believe I could go before. Before starting the climb, a woman had just gotten off from climbing and told me that, “You can do more than you think you can, your body is capable of more than what your mind thinks.” Her words brought a new lookout for the climb to me. Before, I was slightly terrified of climbing and now that she has encouraged me, I was ready to take on the world.

While in Yosemite, I had the chance to witness the world-famous Alex Honnold; a re-owned professional rock climber. He scaled El Capitan, being the first person to free solo the 3,000 foot ascend. It was so thrilling to see someone make history right in front of my eyes. It has inspired me that I can face my fears. I saw him shortly before I start my hike to Half Dome so I believe that also gave me a push in an upward direction.

This transformation of my mindset is significant in my life because I never pushed myself out of my comfort zone before going on this trip. I love being outside because it gives me a chance to relax and look at what’s in front of my rather than worrying about what’s behind me. Being a college student has put so much stress on me and this has taught me to take a step back and let nature heal the soul.

I hope to continue to go on backpacking adventures to soothe my mind and let the stress fade. This trip has inspired me to focus more of self and well-being and to allow myself to do things I otherwise wouldn’t do. I am very fortunate to have done the STEP program because without them I wouldn’t have gone on this trip and wouldn’t have learned so much about myself.

Project Photos

My character that I portrayed is the one with blue hair, yellow shirt with blue vest and blue pants. (The one blasting off the cannon and on the stilts.)


Step Reflection Questions

Name: Joe Huddle

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavors

  1. This creative endeavors project was a 5 day long performance at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church. The project included writing the script, designing and building the set, designing and programming lights, and performing the drama. The final drama was a 2 hour and 45 minute show split between 5 days. Each day was 30 minutes long (45 minutes the last day) and the story continued throughout all 5 days.
  2. During this STEP project, I learned a lot about what it looks like to be a leader, what it looks like the lead by delegating tasks to others, and also what it looks like to work on a massive team of people (over 50 people were part of the drama as set crew, actors, techs, costume designers, etc.) This year I realized that as a leader, my job isn’t to necessarily do everything myself, but rather inspire and encourage others to do their part with jobs they can excel at. There were times when I would have to get down and dirty and paint with people or screw in screws for the stage, but there were also times when I would have to take a step back and evaluate everything that was going on as well as analyze how things might need to look different, or what looks perfect. There were days when I would have to roam around to the various set building projects going on, so I learned a lot about how simply encouraging others in the work they are doing can make a world of difference to them. When all the people working on this production are volunteers, there’s definitely a necessity to make them feel loved and valued and show them that I appreciate their work. I had to learn to do this while also guiding them in the right direction if they wandered off track. My view on people’s time also was changed. Not everyone is willing to hang out until midnight working on things, so I had to respect the time of others and work with them so that the time they were there to help, we were using them to their maximum potential.
  3. When working on a big project with many people, there are bound to be differences in points of view and ways people like to execute things. The biggest challenge that led to the most growth was learning how to work with others who think completely differently than I do or who complete tasks in a totally different way. I learned a lot about being patient with others. As mentioned in #2, I had to delegate many tasks to others, meaning I had to trust that others would be able to get it done to the standard I would like them to get it done in. When people didn’t quite meet my standard, I had to learn how to approach them with constructive advice and encourage them, instead of criticizing and discouraging.

Additionally, I learned a lot about communicating clearly. If I had the time and capacity and capability to do everything on my own, I wouldn’t have to worry about communicating my ideas to others. But since this project involved working with others in every aspect (writing, stage designing, lighting, acting, directing, etc.) I had to learn how to clearly communicate what I wanted and when I wanted it. If people didn’t see the vision the way I did, we would have problems. If people weren’t aware of the time frame, we would have problems. I spent a lot of time talking with people, making sure they understood what the vision was and when the vision could hopefully happen.

The last thing I spent of lot of time learning was how to let my own vision change and morph over time. When others would take projects or tasks and run with them, often they would turn out a little different (sometimes better, sometimes worse) than I had hoped for. I had to realize that even though my own vision wasn’t quite executed, I couldn’t let that get in the way of the final production. With a team of people, the final product is going to look like a lot of people had parts in it, which is fantastic, but sometimes difficult when it wasn’t;t my vision that ended up being the final product. Learning to say “okay, this will work as well” was a hurdle that I had to jump over about half way through the process.

4.Something I have always desired is to be a leader that people want to follow. I want to be a leader not not only just leads a project well, but inspires others to dream big and excel. This year during this production, I learned so much about inspiring others to run with their own ideas. When I was busy with rehearsal, I was able to pass off set work to a few other people. At first, they would double check every small thing they did with me, but after encouraging them to think big and go, they felt a freedom that wasn’t there at the beginning. They were able to pour their heart out into the project, which made for a much better final product. I learned that leadership is not at all about doing it all myself; it’s about inspiring and supporting others to do what they are gifted at doing and organizing everyone together to make one big vision happen.

Academically, most of my classes at OSU are engineering, and this past semester many of my classes dealt with forces and loadings, etc. For the show this year, we build from scratch a 10 ft tall, 12 ft wide semi-circle platform that you could stand on top of as well as walk under. It had to be done well. Using my classroom knowledge helped me design something that could function well, and then building it helped me put practicality and real-life application to what I learned in the classroom. Additionally, since all of my classes are pretty much math based, it was a great relief to be able to think creatively and write a script, utilizing story telling skills. It’s not often I get to do that at school, so having that outlet was a big growing opportunity. I are in my ability to tell a story clearly, conveying a message. I learned about plot and character development from one of my mentors who assisted in script writing. I felt like this STEP project made me a much more well-rounded individual, but also someone who is much better at leading and working with a team of people.


STEP Marketing EDGE Project


Artistic/Creative Endeavors

I used my STEP funding to attend a marketing summit in New York City. The organization that puts on the event is called Marketing EDGE – edge being an acronym for the organization’s overall mission: Educate. Develop. Grow. Employ. I was enlightened to the dynamic, innovative field that marketing is, and also given invaluable insight to what the future holds for a career in marketing from professionals in the field.

One of the largest things I realized about myself during this summit is that I need to be taking initiative, throwing caution to the wind, and get excited about my career. When looking at my resume, I get disappointed when I recall all the open doors I’ve had thus far. There has been many times that I have had opportunities to build experience, but unfortunately, I would shut the doors and cower away. I’ve feared a career in marketing even though I know I have a natural knack for it and it’s what I truly want to do. I’m scared of the work, the networking, and trying to keep up with the consistently changing field it is. I fear failure and not being able to be up to par with my peers’ experience. However, I had a click in my mind at the summit – my fears aren’t happening right now. Everything that I’m fearful of is something I’ve made up in my mind – not something that has actually happened to me. So what is the point in being scared? Fear is irrelevant. Allow me to explain more.

While most speakers at the summit were very specific to certain focuses, approaches, and sects of marketing, one speaker stood out to me the most: Brian Wong. His talk was the last one of the summit – and I couldn’t be more thankful for the perfect timing of it. Towards the end of the summit I was starting to feel a bit defeated. I was inspired and educated, absolutely. But I was also growing anxious about where I can even start to pursue an incredible career like the professionals speaking to us had. With a notebook full of all sorts of analytical and technical marketing jargon and a piping hot cup of black coffee, I sat down, a tad weary, ready to listen to Brian. I was not expecting the inspiration that he gave to us that day – and it came to me at just the right time. He pumped us up, got us excited, and made us all feel like we have what it takes to have a great career in marketing. All we have to do is go at it full force – giving it our all and telling ourselves that our fears are irrelevant. The advice that he gave that most excited me and somewhat comforted me was that you can make yourself better at anything. You can literally learn anything you want this day and age – and on your own time. The internet is an incredible tool to build your skills – you can learn PhotoShop, Tableau, Google AdWords, Illustrator, you name it. All of these skills you can do on your own time – no fancy job required.

I’ll share a bit about how Brian’s advice has changed my views on my career and has inspired me to take initiative – building my skill set on my own time.

I learned that marketing is headed toward a very analytical and technical future. A professional from Acxiom put it best when he stated that “digital marketing” will not be a term in a few years – it will become the norm and eventually morph into what we know as marketing. The world is growing increasingly connected through technology and digital platforms, and as a result, I as an aspiring marketer am required to learn how to analyze big data, connect data silos, and use all the tools I can to create an overall incredible customer experience.  I’ve realized that I need to learn different softwares like Tableau, get certified in Google AdWords, and so much more. These are things that make marketers extremely valuable in the workplace – and I can become versed in this stuff all on my own. That’s super exciting.

I also took initiative in building my experience. I decided to look at where I am in my life and career, and see where I can start to gain skill and add value to myself as an aspiring marketer. This summer, I was not financially able to secure an internship in marketing – I needed something that would make a bit more money. So, I decided that this summer, finances are a little more of a priority than experience is. But from what I learned from Brian, I can analyze my situation, see where I can derive experience in my own unique way, and build my skills. The job I’m working this summer is the same place I’ve worked at every summer since I was 16. I decided it’s about time to to revamp our marketing strategy. I took over our social media and gave us more of a presence online – communicating news and giving us a certain aesthetic. It’s been very successful! Customers have been very responsive to the digital marketing activity. I’ve built skills in many areas – learning how to operate and represent a business online, practicing my photography, communication skills, learning about the analytics of our sites to determine effectiveness, and so much more. If it wasn’t for the inspiration that the summit gave me, I wouldn’t have felt the drive to take on such a task.

But this isn’t where it ends – I am still trying to fiddle with analytical software and am attempting to master skills that I’m passionate about. Brian Wong also said that we need to be avidly building our skills in our passions. Our passions can turn into invaluable experience when employers look at us. So, here I am, trying to build my skills in everything digital, running social media, photography, videography and more – and loving every second.

The realization about my career that I had at the summit is something I am truly thankful for. The reason I’ve mentioned Brian Wong so frequently is because he gave the most relevant advice to the STEP mission. The other speakers were very technical to marketing and gave more specified advice and insight in things – which I still value tremendously and am constantly reviewing. But Brian’s advice had the most transformative undertone for me. Due to his inspirations, I’ve looked at myself, told myself that fear is irrelevant, and have shifted my gaze to my professional goals. Nothing was holding me back but myself. I will continue to take initiative, build my skills, be passionate about my work, and let everything else fall into place – all the while throwing fear to the wind.