STEP Reflection 8/31/18

John Bates

Community Service Project


As part of my STEP project, I volunteered with different organizations around Columbus. My primary focus was the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar (HOBY, for short) in which I designed the entire program booklet and t-shirts for the seminar. In doing this, I learned a lot about how to use the design systems of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Likewise, I transported patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, interacting often with the kids at the hospital.

My award-winning cover design for HOBY’s program booklet



A picture of my group at HOBY

Before my STEP Project began, I was struggling to decide where I wanted to go after college – my options were essentially split between higher education/student affairs (HESA), teaching, psychology, non-profit work, and medicine. In my project, I greatly narrowed down these options, and now know that I would like to pursue a career more towards the area of HESA and Psychology. More than likely I will still like to work with non-profits, however, I do not wish to make a career out of this. Likewise, the medical field will always be fascinating, but it is not for me. I am a very social individual and want the main part of my career to be communicating with people, which is exactly what I’ll get out of HESA and Psychology.


My STEP Project also opened me up to new talents I didn’t know I really had. As part of my involvement with HOBY, I worked a lot with Adobe programs like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. Most of what I did with these programs was self-taught, but I also watched a lot of YouTube videos and read articles explaining different features of these programs. I’ve always enjoyed photography and design, but never fully embraced those as talents that I have, and now with these new-found skills, I may be able to do so.

Being at Nationwide Children’s Hospital this summer put me in contact with a wide variety of people each with their own story to tell. From kids on the 11th and 12th Floors battling cancer and other similar diseases, to families of those getting transplants, to other kids simply getting their tonsils removed. I find everyone’s story unique and fascinating, and hearing these different stories was eye-opening for sure. After hearing from those already in the field, such as nurses, doctors, and other medical staff, it became apparent to me that this work, though inspiring, is not the best fit for me.

As opposed to this, at HOBY, I heard a lot of students’ goals and aspirations for their own future as well as their communities. Hearing the hopes of these young individuals is what inspires me greatly to make a difference in my own community, and so on. For this reason, the career route of HESA was much more appealing to me, and I could see myself fitting easily into this role. As my first year leading a group of my own, I truly enjoyed the connections I made with the students within my group, and in my future career, I would enjoy having a similar leadership role, such as a hall director, honors liaisons, or even a wellness coach.

Even though this was not a planned part of my STEP experience, from staying in Columbus this summer I met someone who shared their experiences with prior mental health difficulties. Psychology is another one of my potential career fields and meeting someone who I could talk to directly about their experiences with mental health was really eye-opening. Besides depression and anxiety, which are some of the most well-known, I learned through discussion and research of my own about other mental health issues like personality disorders. I also learned about what language is best to be used in particular circumstances. Likewise, I learned how mental health can affect different people based on their identities. These interactions and subsequent learning reassured my passion for psychology and mental health education.


As someone who severely needed a sense of direction after their sophomore year, my STEP project gave me much needed clarity. I can now for certain cross many “options” off my list of possible careers, and have successfully narrowed down to two specific interests. Now, my academic plan for the next two years is much more solidified, and I am much more excited to take the classes that I am in because I know they will be benefitting my future career. With my last two years, I can focus not on what I could possibly want to do, but what I need to do to get me there.