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“Looking back, I’m glad I made the decision to go to grad school after undergrad.”

I made the mistake of thinking I was cut out for pre-med but my grades my first year of college told me otherwise.

In looking for something I could actually perform well in and use my skill set, I finally embraced my often neglected artistic side and switched my major. I also took a part time job as a designer. Let’s just say I photoshopped a lot of carrots into Thomas Jefferson’s hands. However, I finally found something I enjoyed and thought this was a sign that I could stay in a business-related career that allowed me to be creative. Advertising?

My fourth year I decided to enroll in the one advertising class offered at my school. Occasionally guests would come and speak about life in the industry. Sitting through these lectures, I realized it was going to be difficult to get into an ad agency on my own as a creative. My school was not one known for producing many junior creatives straight out of undergrad. I also couldn’t rely on a portfolio of carrot posters to get me through the door.

That spring, VCU Brandcenter came and spoke to my class. After that talk, I saw Brandcenter was an opportunity to work on my portfolio, earn a Master’s degree, and build a network. It wasn’t a super easy decision, though. Even after I applied, I was frustrated. Many of my friends and classmates were moving to bigger cities and getting “real jobs” whereas I felt like I was standing still. It took some time after getting accepted in the program to convince me that this was the right investment in my career.

Looking back, I’m glad I made the decision to go to grad school after undergrad. It meant I knew exactly what I wanted. I’ve learned a lot, failed a lot, and found that a new confidence in my work that I can take with me. Two more years of school couldn’t be that hard, right? Coming out of undergrad means you’re still a professional student…

-Chris Lumain, art direction track, class of 2017