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When Jovanni-Dominic “Jay-Dee” Samonte was applying to college, he was impressed by Virginia Commonwealth University’s culture of a creative atmosphere within an urban campus. 

“I knew that I was going to love that type of environment,” said Samonte, who graduates from the VCU School of Business this May. “I had the urge to push my creativity.”

Samonte studied entrepreneurship and marketing in high school and he wanted to pursue those concepts in college.

“I wanted to work in collaborative environments where we could build a business from the ground up with the hope to gain experience to one day open my own business,” he said. That desire led him to pursue an undergraduate certificate in venture creation at the VCU da Vinci Center, a collaboration of VCU’s schools of the Arts and Business and colleges of Engineering and Humanities and Sciences that advances innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Having [this certificate] has given me the perspective of what it would be like to establish, work for and understand what it takes within start-up culture,” Samonte said. “I think the certificate also has given me experience to learn more about business objectives and how they can be innovative within an established brand.”

It also gave him a leg up when applying for the prestigious Multicultural Advertising Internship Program, an initiative of the American Association of Advertising Agencies that connects aspiring diverse, entry-level advertising professionals with leading advertising agencies. In his application for a position in the art direction track, Samonte created an educational campaign on dyslexia through a virtual reality platform.

After passing the interview round, Samonte became a finalist and was offered a summer position as an art director with the Minneapolis agency Periscope.

“I’ll be working on one account/brand for the summer with a group of interns specifically focusing on visuals and coming up with creative ideas to solve a problem for a client the agency gives us,” he said. “Leading up to the internship, we were able to get training for the ins and outs of working at an agency and throughout the time get mentorship, chances to network, and other workshops to learn.”

While starting his own business — a food truck or restaurant that serves Filipino breakfast-oriented foods — is still in the back of his mind, Samonte said he wants to become established in his field first.

“I plan on honing my craft as a creative through hours of YouTube tutorials and Skillshare, building my portfolio, and searching for opportunities within the advertising industry specifically as a junior art director,” he said.

To his fellow Rams, he leaves the following advice:

“Follow what’s important for you,” he said. “Hustling during school is crucial but only if you want it because everything in life should be a balance. Whenever you can, I’d recommend to take time to sit down with your own thoughts and identify the very seemingly uncertain truths of what’s important to you. Though it’ll change over time, no lie, it’ll save some stress, time, and energy in the long run.

“Enjoy your time at VCU to the fullest and embrace the days here ’cause things can and will get rough from time to time. But at the end of the day you’re here to be a part of the community and learn about yourself.”

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