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Industry professionals critique advertising student portfolios

Dec 28, 2018

Posted in: News

By Adam Hamza, Communication Intern

Advertising students at the Robertson School displayed their work portfolios to their peers, faculty and industry professionals on Dec. 12. Students showcased projects like websites, art, blogs and short films and received critiques from industry professionals and faculty. Students were stationed at booths reviewers to listen and see what they have done. Many professionals use this opportunity every semester to recruit new talent from VCU.

Lauren Thomas, a sophomore with a focus on creative and strategic advertising, said she was excited to “even be considered” alongside other students with more experience. Her booth was full of artwork: an acrylic painting of Monroe Park, her process journal and handmade business cards which were also done with acrylic paint. For her, the review was a chance to connect with professionals and see what other students created.

“I just think it’s a really good networking opportunity,” Thomas said. “Talking to different professionals and just getting my name out there, especially when the time does come to have an actual portfolio, and also [getting] to see other people’s tables.”


Dianna Davis, a 31-year-old returning student with a focus in creative advertising, has done similar events like this before as a painting and art making major before switching to advertising.

“It’s kind of like having a solo show where you can show your work, but it’s really condensed where you don’t have a whole room to fill,” Davis said.

Davis returned to higher education after 10 years working as a freelance creative and licensed tattoo artist. She felt as though she had become a "Jill of all trades" and found that she could take advantage of her skills through advertising. 

“In an ideal world, if I can have anything I wanted, I’d like to work for Weiden+Kennedy and do really creative projects with them,” Davis said. “I would love to work for an agency like that.”


Hugh Callahan, creative director at Tilt Creative and Production, said he came to the review looking for potential talent as well as offer feedback for students. He was impressed by the diversity of skills VCU students showed and added how being proficient in different roles helps them to stand out to agencies.

“It seems like everyone’s trying to wear multiple hats,” Callahan said. “So, if you can do a little bit of both [art direction and copywriting], which seems like a lot of these students can do that, that helps.” 

“I remember when I was in art school and we had these types of things too,” Callahan added. “It was hugely beneficial because of the exposure but also the feedback that you got from working professionals,”


Scott Sherman, associate professor and coordinator of the advertising sequence at the Robertson School, said the review benefits both students and the Robertson School. It's good for the school, because it gives the community a chance to see what the school is doing. It’s also good for students because they gain confidence by hearing from professionals.

“They hear from teachers a lot … but for people who are out there to say ‘wow, that’s really cool stuff’ really builds confidence,” Sherman said. “To hear from someone else is really nice, and I hear that a lot from students.”