Column Five Side Hustlers: Meet Travis Keith, The Professor

It seems most people have a side hustle these days. While some companies might balk at the idea, Column Five supports and encourages our side hustlers to pursue their passions. (We actually think it makes them better employees.) In our Column Five Side Hustlers series, we’re meeting the members of our team who moonlight as everything from makeup artists to calligraphers.

Today we’re talking to Account Director Travis Keith about his adventures in teaching, balancing work and side hustling, and more. 

Meet Travis Keith, The Professor

Years at C5: 7

C5 Title: Account Director

Travis Keith Column Five

C5: So, Travis, what’s your side hustle? 

TK: I am currently an adjunct professor at Chapman University in Orange, California. I teach the Graphic Design Business Practices course on Monday and Wednesday nights. This course is only offered to seniors, as it is meant to prepare them for life after college. Throughout their entire collegiate experience, these students have learned the tools necessary to be top-notch graphic designers, but they have never taken a business course (unless they volunteered to take one outside of their standard course curriculum).

We talk about portfolio-building, preparing for an interview, getting their first paycheck, why taxes take so much out of that paycheck, and how to build and sustain a flourishing freelance design career. It’s a crash course in the business behind graphic design.  

C5: What inspired you to start your side hustle?

TK: I’ve always loved teaching. Whether it be guest-speaking opportunities or teaching classes for some of my other hobbies (sports, guitar, parenting, etc.), teaching has always brought me a ton of validation and fulfillment.

I was asked to do a guest-speaking appearance at Chapman a couple of years ago, and after that speaking engagement, an adjunct professor spot opened up in the graphic design department. I was approached by another professor who mentioned that I would be a great fit for the subject matter of that course. So I hopped on it right away, and have loved every minute of it.

C5: Did you face any challenges starting out?

TK: Well, since I’ve never taught a full course prior to this experience, there were a ton of challenges. I had to learn how to build out lesson plans, and get all the information out to the students in an engaging way that resonated with generally “visual” learners.

I’m a very auditory-driven individual, meaning I process information by talking about it, formulating opinions and connections with the information through conversations. However, most of the students in my class are visual learners. They need to see the information in real life and how it fits within the larger picture. Striking this balance was probably the biggest challenge in my first year teaching the course.

Generally, I try to avoid long lectures and make the class very participatory in nature. I’ve found that students are less likely to “check out,” and they stay engaged through the lesson.  

C5: What do you like most about teaching?

TK: As cliché as it might sound, the best part of teaching is seeing a student finally grasp a concept or understand a perspective they didn’t have before. You can almost see the light bulb go off in their head. When that happens you feel like you’ve made an impact in that student’s life—a small impact but an impact nonetheless.

C5: How do you balance Column Five and your side hustle?

Balancing both is definitely difficult. It’s even more difficult given that I have two small kids who literally try to burn down my house every day. The nice thing about this “side hustle” is that it’s only twice a week. There’s obviously prep and planning that go into this as well, but I usually leave work at about 5:30 p.m. on the days I have class and can get to the campus a couple of hours before class begins.

In those few hours, I can tweak the lesson plan and review how I want to communicate the main messages for that day. I live and die by my calendar, so I have very specific events in my calendar that help me balance work, class, and family time.

C5: Is there another C5er whose side hustle inspired you to start yours?

TK: We have so many crazy talented people here at Column Five. It’s why I’ve been here for almost 8 years. 

  • Walter Olivares, who is an Art Director here at Column Five, is also one of the best photographers I’ve ever seen. The way he captures a moment in time, an object, or a feeling is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
  • Jenny Famularcano literally went back to school to learn how to create her own typography, and now has an amazing boutique business where she creates handmade items with her signature touch.
  • Desiree DeLattre has her own beauty company (Hustle and Glow) that focuses on cosmetics, and while I know nothing about makeup or beauty products, watching her run a business like an absolute boss is really inspiring.    

It’s so inspiring working with people who take pride in what they do and constantly push to make themselves better.

C5: Was there a time when C5ers helped you celebrate a side hustle win?

TK: Absolutely. Since I’m teaching senior graphic designers, an incredibly visual bunch, I’ve learned that bringing in guest speakers helps spark their excitement about life after graduation.

I’ve brought in Brigette La, who was an Art Director here at Column Five for quite some time, and Creative Director Nate Butler is slotted to come in and help me teach a lesson on presenting portfolios in an interview. Also, Josh Ritchie, one of our co-founders, has opened up the invitation for any student to come to our office and “see how the sausage is made.”

I’ve had a couple of students come into the office and chat with other C5 employees, and when they leave you can tell that they are inspired and motivated to take the next step.

C5: Thanks for sharing, Travis. Now where can people find you?

TK: Hit me up through LinkedIn or Chapman University.

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