Allison Grazia is a candidate in the full-time MBA program and the co-President of Design Club. In the first edition of our Student Club Spotlight, we sat down with Allison to discuss the short and long term benefits of joining Design Club.
1. Q: Why did you join the Design club, and ultimately decide to become a leader in the club?
A: I was very fortunate last year in getting paired with Lauren Nelson through Case’s Buddy program. Lauren and I met a few times prior to school starting, and upon hearing what her goals were for starting the Design Club at WSOM, I was intrigued and eager to help out. A lot of my interest came honestly from her enthusiasm, and obvious passion to bring design in that capacity to Case, and I was hooked from the beginning. I was their Secretary for my first year, and saw incredible results and potential for the club, so when the time came for my Presidents to part, taking over was a no-brainer. Throughout my first year, I also became good friends with my co-President and fellow designer Kevin Verne, and the two of us knew we would be great partners in this endeavor.
2. Q: What are your day-to-day duties in Design Club?
A: Day to day is mostly about communication—with my co-Pres, with members, with guests that we are bringing to Case, and with those we are collaborating with. We are lucky in the relationships that were established last year through Design Club, and have continued to build on those.
Right now, the name of the game is planning for events. We really wanted to have 2 large events for this semester, and with the first one coming up in a week and a half, we are in the final stages of coordination between our guests, and making sure we get the word out. We are constantly emailing, planning, reaching out to companies, making presentations, designing posters and flyers, planning workshops, agendas, spreading the word about competitions, and talking through ideas of how we can elevate Design Club this year. Another important item to note is that co-President Kevin is leading our Design for America team this year as well. Along with Design TA Jonathan Lerner, the two of them are continuing the work they did last year with DFA, and are seeking new students to bring in to be a part of a current, real-life project.
3. Q: What big projects are coming up?
A: Our two big events will be focused on Entrepreneurship and Healthcare/Innovation. We love Cleveland, and wanted to shed light on businesses that were started here, and are thriving, and discuss how design falls into the entrepreneurial spirit. We are involving 6 local businesses (whom Kevin, Jonathan, and myself all love) to come speak with students about how they got started, what design means to them and their company, and how important it is to know how to problem solve. We knew from the get-go that any event we held we wanted to be hands-on and interactive, so another aspect of this event will be about helping solve current problems. Guests are coming to us with some dilemma they are facing, and students will work in a rapid-fire style deep dive into how design thinking can help frame the problem in perhaps a new way. This gives students and attendees the opportunity to learn new skills, and the companies hopefully a fresh perspective on their problem.
For the Healthcare and Innovation event, we plan to bring in designers and innovators from Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, as well as guests from the tech industry such as Plug and Play and Samsung. This will be held at the end of October, with a planned happy hour afterwards so students can spend time mingling even more with our guests.
4. Q: In your opinion, why is joining a club at Weatherhead important for students?
A: When you are a part of a club, that club is there solely to bring you information and opportunity. It is our goal to teach students some new skills, give them a new way of looking at something, to expose them to others, meet new people, and broaden their horizons. When we have events, it’s an opportunity to practice networking skills, meet leaders of companies, showcase your skills, and just simply have fun. Being a part of a club can also show those after graduation that you are a go-getter, that perhaps you don’t just do the bare minimum, and that when you have interests, you pursue them or are open to new things. Of course, being a part of a club takes time, but it’s time that I truly feel is valuable.
5. Q: What would you tell students who are on the fence about joining Design Club?
A: I would tell them, and have told them, that we are a low risk, high reward club that is all about getting people to think about things a little differently, while having some fun. We like to think we know what students really want: a low time commitment, to meet large companies, and to do something that’s easy. It might be a hard truth, but it’s common when you are dealing with young professionals who are juggling school, work, and social lives. Ultimately though, we want people to want to come to Design Club, and who want to see what we’re doing. We feel that what we are creating this term is all about opportunity, and we are hoping that those who are on the fence about what design and design thinking is, might just have enough of those basic desires checked off, to take the step towards us and see what we’re all about.
6. Q: How can interested students join the club or participate?
A: Students can reach out to myself and Kevin via email – email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also message us on Facebook – WSOM Design Club / @weatherheadDESIGNS or join through Campus Groups.