April 8, 2008

VCU Brandcenter from a Student's Perspective, Guest Post by Luis Carranza

If you’re thinking about attending VCU Brandcenter, there are some things you should know. First, there are other ways to get into advertising or branding. You can create a great book at other portfolio schools or get a master’s degree from Miami Ad School. I opted for VCU.

The advertising industry is not what it seems. We are in a period of realignment. I registered for VCU Adcenter, but I am graduating from VCU Brandcenter. The name change illustrates a trend. Creative people are understanding business better and business people are gaining a deeper appreciation for creative problem solving. Technology is another major changing force. Google generates more revenue from advertisers than all the big advertising conglomerates combined. Traditional agencies are becoming more digital and digital agencies are becoming more traditional. Advertising is part of a bigger picture.

A lot of the same things that have worked in the past will still work today, but you are not bound by anything. Actually, there are some mandatory restrictions, like staying on brand and making a profit, but big ideas can live on any platform. We are in the idea industry! We create products, entice action, and start conversations on all types of media. Creating a television show can be more cost effective than advertising during commercial breaks. Although that’s not really the kind of thing you can showcase in a portfolio. Your curiosity about media and how well you document it will make you a better applicant (hint, blogs, social media, video, photos.)

If you are accepted into the VCU program for any track, you are going to be making a lot of work and telling a lot of stories. You will improve your public speaking by up to 1000%. Seriously, being able to present and sell your ideas is one of the best business lessons you’re going to learn here. I’m not saying you’re going to enjoy giving dozens of presentations, but you’ll be far more successful for doing it.

You will also be dealing with a wide spectrum of personalities and egos. This can work in your favor or against you, just like in the real world. You will learn to work with thinkers who all have something unique to offer. You’re not always going to like everyone you work with and everyone is not always going to like you. Unless you manage to be really likable while always completing great work and not being too arrogant or stepping on any toes. After a few semesters everyone adjusts to this new environment and it magically becomes better. Or maybe everyone just learns to work together; another valuable industry lesson thanks to VCU.

You will work hard at VCU Brandcenter and you will get a job in the industry if you want it. The hard part is deciding what the job will be. You’ll have to decide what cities you want to work in, negotiate a salary and choose an agency or brand culture where they like you and you like them. But you’ll have to do most of this while you’re busy working on projects and preparing your book during your final semester. Still interested?

If you are there’s one more thing you’ll get that no other school has, you’ll gain access to a network of professionals in the industry. Some are alumni, some are board members, and some are both. I have six weeks left and I’ve made the most of it. I am prepared to work in the industry today, but more importantly I’m confident in determining my future. If you want to break into the business you’ve come to the right place. But if you still want to know what industry leaders are looking for I’ll tell you. Better yet, I’ll let them tell you with these Youtube videos. Good luck with your application.

VCU video 1
VCU video 2
VCU video 3
VCU video 4