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Student Spotlight: Jesse Lane, advertising

Aug 29, 2018

Posted in: News

By Robertsonian staff

Jesse Lane (B.S. '18/MC) sauntered into the Robertson School offices with a skateboard under one arm and a contagious smile on his face. His positive energy immediately filled the space he moved in. Lane graduated from the Robertson School with honors with a double major in strategic and creative advertising this year. He’d been at VCU on the G.I. Bill for three years after spending four years in the U.S. Navy — three and a half of those years in intelligence where he specialized in issues of finance and white-collar crime.


He explained that he’s always had a fascination with the darknet and with how it has created a role in social media usage by out-groups seeking to propagandize. At age 19, he was the youngest staff member in the naval intelligence office in Naples, Italy where he was stationed. He was recruited into intelligence with his high test scores, approached and interviewed by the FBI six months into his naval career. Lane graduated from high school in Gloucester, Virginia where his wife is also from and describes himself as “an army brat” who spent part of his childhood in California, Washington State, Virginia Beach and Hawaii. When he came to VCU he had also been accepted to Pratt Institute, but his wife, who is an interior designer, wanted them to be closer to family in Gloucester.

Lane described VCU as a “humble” school with “a lot of kick, community engagement, and a historical urban presence” he finds meaningful. Why advertising we asked him? It seemed far left of navy intelligence. Lane explained that he loves social media and that his time in intelligence taught him about the systematized and strategic use of targeted marketing in politics today. He began to wonder how some of those psychological tactics might be used effectively (and with integrity) by social media influencers in business. He also suggested that intelligence is “sort of the creative side of the military,” and he likes to think creatively, which a career in advertising will allow him to do.

When he’s not studying or thinking creatively, Lane likes to skateboard, read and watch films for which he has a strong love. He also appreciates the art scene in Richmond, describing Art History 104 as one of his most eye-opening classes. That and his advertising courses elevated the way he looks at visual communication.

He sets a great deal of store in electives and a liberal arts education. He admits he likes to have broad knowledge in a lot of different areas and that he will pick up a subject intensely for a while until he tires of it and then move on to something new. His interests are, in other words, multi-faceted. Lane attributes his success at VCU to the fact that he’s always “...treated school as a job. The GI Bill gave me the freedom to just enjoy school and not worry about money,” he said. “I loved it here. I particularly love the way the campus is so ingrained as part of the community and that VCU cares about Richmond, is one with Richmond.”

An earlier version of this article was published in the Spring 2018 issue of the Robertsonian.