From Ad-Grad to Think-tern
December 11th, 2016, was the first day I hadn’t been enrolled in school in over 17 years. It felt tremendous at first, but without a job lined up, it was a day slowly overtaken by a panicked feeling of dread and “What the hell do I do now?”
Luckily, and very uncharacteristically, I had taken some early precautions to prepare myself during my last semester at VCU. I started bothering my teachers more and more outside of class and meeting with them to talk about my work and future. But what singlehandedly helped me the most was applying to the Richmond Ad Club’s Mentorship Program.
I was paired up with owner and creative director of Think, Jason St. Peter. When I first came by the shop in September and saw the swords on display, the growlers of craft beer, and the blue-eyed animal statues; I knew it was going to be a great fit. I started bothering Jason all the time, asking for opportunities to help, and for critiques on my work and website. The second time I ever came by the shop was for an anniversary party dubbed Think Day; I believe it was a test to see if I could hang, and hang I did (although I broke a frame in the bathroom and deservedly still get made fun of to this day). By the time I graduated we had been to every networking event together, as well as some craft beer extracurricular meetings with the whole Think crew. I was coming in weekly with something to work on and was always welcomed like part of the team. I think it’s safe to say that we had all become friends.
My first big project was to create a box. Well, more of a press kit. I was tasked to come up with the interior packaging, which held several other parts and pieces for one of think's Richmond Ad Show submissions. Without spoiling anything, I can say that making them took a lot of wood stain, cardboard, and trial and error. But the best part was that I started the project as a mentee and finished it as an intern. Thanks, Think.
For any undergrad reading this, I can’t stress enough how impactful this opportunity was for me. I highly encourage you to apply to the program in it’s next cycle, and take advantage of it in every way possible. Go to the networking events, put yourself out there. Ask for as much work as you can take on. Early in the program, Jason told me about his past experiences, saying that you can only get out what you put in. You have to set goals and expectations and then work towards them. I applied to the program to get real agency experience and put myself out into Richmond’s advertising scene, but most of all, I wanted to make interesting and creative work. Now I get to do that everyday.