Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

In NYC with VT Alumna Lauren Walkup

Rounding the corner somewhere in New York City while attempting to keep pace with Lauren Walkup, a freelance designer and alumna of Virginia Tech, we received brilliant insight and advice, like this first comment—

“There is this saying that New York is 80% sh*t, and 20% magic. I like to think it is the latter.” She said with a sense of confidence and coolness that made us immediately scold ourselves for thinking otherwise, ever.

Magic it certainly is. New York City can be a dream for most, but it often exists as a fabricated illusion for us dreamers out there. While most can admit it is the magic which guides our NYC dreams, it is important to understand the reality of living and working in NYC. So, Her Campus at Virginia Tech snagged Lauren for a discussion about what it’s really like to live and work in New York City as a young creative. Making it in New York City involves the expected determination and talent, but it also involves extending courtesy in ways unexpected, while creating your own routine. (Lauren’s routine happens to involve a lot of podcasts.)

Lauren began her career in NYC as an unpaid intern who made the transition into paid work as a freelance designer, in which she currently works. She resides in a neighborhood in Brooklyn called Gowanus, which is quickly becoming a hip, “modern day venice.” You can find her designing just about anything from custom emojis and floorplans to props for sets and window displays.

While she pursued her degree in Industrial Design at Virginia Tech, Lauren devoted her spare time to refining her technical skills. By working over a year in InnovationSpace and learning how to troubleshoot and solve problems, she now boasts the “IT-nerd” badge among her coworkers, providing assistance when needed.

 Also during her time at Tech, she used her talents to take the Fashion Merchandising and Design Society in a very cool direction with her stellar design aesthetic and crash courses in Photoshop.

Now, how exactly did Lauren get to where she is currently? We asked Lauren what advice she had for succeeding in New York City, and her tips for success will prove invaluable for wherever you go and whatever you do. See them below.

Following Lauren’s tips for success, we chatted about her routine and why she likes to keep one, saying: “live a life that’s for the most part simple” and you’ll find “the little things become important.” For Lauren, the little things involve disliking the MTA, Metro Transit Authority, listening to podcasts and making coffee in her Chemex, because “in New York, coffee is a big thing.” For podcasts, she recommends saving “Stuff You Should Know” and NPR news, among others – great for listening to on your morning commute.

“The little things become important”

While mostly talking about “adult things,” like career and success, we managed to delve into Lauren’s inspirations, favorites and other fun stuff by asking a series of questions – starting with her top three favorite places and spaces. First is The Morbid Anatomy Museum in Gowanus because her mom was a taxidermist. In her childhood home, you will find Tico — Tico is a horse rug. If stuffed animals aren’t your thing, then there is a cafe downstairs with great coffee and great vegan treats. Lauren’s second pick is a reclaimed store near Gowanus with lighting fixtures, dishes and other odds and ends. Thirdly, is the Highline for when you want to be alone, outside but still around people. Lauren enjoys the Highline because “the vendors are really nice, and you don’t have to talk to anyone, but you can take their photos.” Honorable mention is Whole Foods because she enjoys cooking.

Next, we talked about some abstract subjects like art, design and inspiration. When discussing inspiration, Lauren mentioned she doesn’t have too many specific inspirations but went on to say, “the most successful people I know have inspirations…if I’m lacking inspiration, I Google what I’m trying to get at.” Another tip for finding inspiration is to “follow blogs, screenshot things from Instagram. Follow people who already kind of have a style.” When asked about design, she enlightened us with the comment: “good design has to do with intent” and that is where “art and design separate.” As for artists, she recommends Wassily Kandinsky and Le Corbusier, a French architect. She also shared of her love for modernism and the Bauhaus in Germany, which was basically the birthplace of industrial design in 1919.

Branching into another section of topics, we found ourselves discussing random things like Renaissance babies and personal style. When asked of her personal style, Lauren said she wanted to look back in 10 or 20 years and see that her expertise was in her skills. She closed this saying, “Do whatever you want, wear whatever you want. Do whatever you want as long as you put effort into it.” Noted.

You can see more from Lauren on her website, and if you make it to New York City soon, she is definitely an alumna worth meeting up with!

Kaley Roshitsh

Virginia Tech '18

After graduating with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising and Design from Virginia Tech in 2018, Kaley moved to NYC to start her career with WWD – the authority on the fashion, beauty and retail industries. She is credited with the relaunch of Her Campus at Virginia Tech in 2016, serving as Campus Correspondent for 2 years, building the team to 55+ members while earning multiple Pink chapter level statuses (top-20% of over 330 chapters) and being awarded "Outstanding Organization of the Year" in 2018 at Virginia Tech. Other notable achievements include the annual "Media Mixer" gala and buildout of many strategic content initiatives.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️