MYTH: You cannot work while at Brandcenter.
You do not work during first year. That’s all I heard when applying to VCU Brandcenter.
So when I accepted my spot, I also accepted that I was going to quit my job.
That is, until I actually had to quit my job. I ran through my speech in the car, I did strange breathing exercises off some random podcast, and I put my game face on.
But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t need to. I was working in Richmond, for a company that was willing to be flexible, in brand management.
So, I called Hawley who told it to me straight.
TRUTH: You can work. You most definitely can. But no more than 20 hours and it is not for the faint of heart.
Three months of working and schoolworking, I’ve learned a few things.
- School is your full-time job. That is your priority, and that needs to be your mindset from day one.
- Be honest with your employer. Show your manager everything you can about your track. Promise them that you will always be honest, flexible, and do good work. Ask in return that they give you that same flexibility. Some weeks you can get thirty hours in, some weeks you can truly only manage ten. Create “part-time” expectations and then exceed them.
- Level-set with yourself before starting. You are going to have to make sacrifices to keep all the balls in the air. You may not always be there to close down the bar and your gym routine may go out the window, but you are giving these up to get something in return. Accepting that from the start makes it easier.
- Talk to your team. First year, you are nothing without your Business of Branding team. The day you get your group assignments, tell your team you work. Ask them when they like to meet and set your schedule around that. My team hates mornings, so I’m in the office mornings. Three months in, I have yet to have to move a group meeting because of work.
- Have fun with it. You are learning stuff that no one at your job is, and your interacting with the business world in a way that few students are. Use that to your advantage. Make your colleagues your focus group, make your BC team meet at your office, leverage all the resources and tools available to you in both worlds. At the end of the day, finding humor in the chaos turns work into play.
So for any of you out there thinking about working, I hope this gives you hope.
You can do it.
-Gabi Levi, creative brand management track, class of 2019