Check out some of VCU’s graduating Brandcenter students — and their stellar work

A new website, brandcentergrads.com, is a showcase of student work and a way for new graduates to establish connections with potential employers.

Portraits of some of VCU's 2021 Brandcenter graduates. [View Image] Portraits of some of VCU's 2021 Brandcenter graduates. Visitors to brandcentergrads.com can learn about all 105 students and browse their portfolios.

The 100-plus students graduating from the Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University this semester are more than just problem solvers, strategists and creatives.  

Nana Dadzie is “a product of hip-hop culture, a lover of all things 1990s Nike and [Michael] Jordan nostalgia … and a born leader with over 15 years of experience who can do it from the player or coach POV.”

Bianca Naidoo’s “spirit and tenacity were established by a long line of people that were relentless in the pursuit of their dreams.” However, first and foremost, she is “a tactical empath.”

Chris Cole is a “washed-up D1 swimmer, avid Judge Judy watcher, award-winning painter, side hustler and scummy soap maker.”

They and their classmates — and their portfolios — are also now being featured on a Brandcenter website, brandcentergrads.com, as the Brandcenter has moved its annual recruitment event — traditionally known as the “reverse job fair” — online. 

“For everyone, at first, it was a little disappointing to not have the recruiter session in person,” Cole said. “Part of the fun I think, before, was getting to set up your own little booth and decorate it, and have things to give to recruiters to draw their attention. … I was looking forward to [that] when I started my time at [the] Brandcenter, because that's what we're building up to.” The painting "Le Désespéré" by Chris Cole. [View Image]
"Le De´sespe´re´" 2020, oil on canvas. "I decided to capture that look I give myself in the morning as I get ready for another day," the painter, Brandcenter student Chris Cole said. (Courtesy of Chris Cole)

If given the chance, Cole may have displayed some of his paintings or swim paraphernalia on his table. He could have told prospective employers how he got into advertising. (Cole started out as a painting student before switching to advertising after he realized he didn’t want to be an artist or a professor. “I tried out advertising and I loved it and haven't looked back,” he said.) 

But Cole and his peers soon realized the perks of having the recruitment session online. Visitors to the site (including prospective employers and people interested in checking out some of the stellar work from the Class of 2021) can browse all 105 student portfolios and search by concentration — art direction, copywriting, creative brand management, experience design and strategy — as well as by skill. Employers can set up meetings with students that they think might be a good fit for their company.

Brands, agencies, and consultancies hosted virtual information sessions with students May 3-7, but the Brandcenter website will remain live as a showcase of students and their creative work, providing a digital entry point for future discussions among Brandcenter students and industry employers. 

“Before, the recruiters' session was two days, and now it's as long as we want it to be,” Cole said. “We can fit in more talks with recruiters. … The recruiter session is helping me make a lot of the connections that I'll need. I'm actually applying [for jobs] with my partner, Jason [Colliton], who's a writer, and we have some potential opportunities.”

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