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New York City’s School of Visual Arts' Recent Advertising Graduate speaks on #StudyAbroad

Updated: Sep 18

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RHEA SHAH


Under Grad: The School of Visual Arts New York City, - Bachelor’s Of Fine Arts (BFA) in Advertising.

Current Role - Marketing and Advertising Intern at Fine Organics USA.



LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhea-shah-4b0981b3/


"The faculty at my program comprised of the who's who of New York City's Creative Community."

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your Educational and Professional Background? Which college, company, and role did you work in to get you where you are today?

My name is Rhea and I'm a recent Graduate from The School of Visual Arts New York City. I majored in advertising and having been into it since the past four years has taught me not only skills needed to survive in this particular field, but has moreover transformed me into an avid communicator, thinker, and public speaker; skills needed to survive in any kind of field or industry.

Going a little back in time pre-college, I graduated from St. Gregorios High School Mumbai. Up until the 10th grade I was part of the ICSE and ISC program, and for grades 11 and 12, I was part of the ISE Commerce Program. However, I hadn't made the decision of studying abroad until I was in the middle of my first semester in the 11th grade.

2. What was your undergraduate Major? What prompted you towards it?

Funny story is I started off as a Graphic Design Major but ended up graduating as an Advertising Major. After taking an advertising course during my first semester in my sophomore year, I was convinced that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my foreseeable future. I am someone who is design-driven, but at the same time, I am also someone who is commerce-driven. Advertising allowed me to pursue both at the same time. So I guess that's what prompted me to switch majors at that time.

3. When and why did you decide to study abroad?

I decided to go abroad to pursue my further studies when I was in grade 11. The only reason was to gain exposure. Studying in New York City not only gave me the chance to experience and interact with people from other cultures but also gave me a platform to enhance my network, explore career opportunities abroad and gain a greater understanding of the world.

4. Did you receive a scholarship? Do you recommend any good orgs/institutions that provide for scholarships or financial aid?

I did not receive a scholarship to begin college with, but I did receive small scholarships here and there throughout the course of my four years in college for academic success and honors.

5. Why did you choose that particular university/college for your studies abroad? What was the process you went through while choosing the university/college?

My process of shortlisting a few colleges was pretty simple and straightforward. The colleges that made my list after my research did so because they were known for their programs, faculty, and locations. There were a few reasons as to why I chose The School of Visual Arts over all the other colleges I had gotten into:

Firstly, and most importantly, I was impressed by the program curriculum and was super interested in the courses they offered.

Secondly, the college is known for how competitive and challenging it is, and that was an atmosphere that I really wanted to be a part of. Here’s a myth that getting into an art college may not be as hard, but the truth is that it is hard, and graduating from one is definitely harder.

Thirdly, the location of the college was something that I was also attracted to. New York City is the hub of advertising and design and there was no place I would rather have been.

Lastly, I was able to get in touch with recent graduates and current students at the time who attended the college. I was able to get some insight into what going to college in New York City meant and how their experiences had been so far.

6. Any particular advice you would like to give for the application process from SOP Writing to Academic GPA to Other things which you thought were important that helped you get in?

Personally, I think your academic background, GPA, and test scores and all of that are important, but I would stress more on the S.O.P and college essays. I think these speak volumes of your personality, who you are as a person, and what your thought process is like. Colleges read them and often use them to make decisions that couldn't be made with just your grades or test scores. When it comes to design and art colleges, your portfolio is definitely the most important out of all.

7. Were you satisfied with your choice of university? What is your most and least favorite thing about the university experience?

I think more than just being satisfied, I was extremely happy and grateful to have made that choice and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. My most favorite part is hard to list because I just have so many from making new friends, building connections, and being exposed to tons of opportunities, to being surrounded by different cultures that bring so many ideas together. My overall experience has been pretty wholesome. The best part about living in New York City is that no matter where you are from, you will definitely be able to find your tribe.

My least favorite thing about my university experience was probably the fact that time just flew by. And I don't know how quickly these past four years have just passed by. But for people who are looking for a campus, New York City is very different. Most colleges in New York City don't have campuses. They're just college buildings throughout the city. The city is your campus. And if that's something you don't mind, then this is the place for you.

8. How is the Indian fraternity over there? How is the overall campus diversity?

Well, my college did not have a lot of Indians. I would say probably one percent or maybe even two percent would constitute Indians. But as far as New York City is concerned, it's filled with Indians. A ton of Indians visit the city to attend various colleges is to pursue an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree. And also more students studying in New York City somehow befriend students from other colleges as well. And that's a trend I've seen ever since I've been here.

9. Tell us something about the faculty and resources which were there on campus

The faculty at my program comprised of the who's who of New York City's Creative Community. They consist of artists, critics, curators, designers, filmmakers, photographers, writers, and other creative professionals.

I think one thing I really appreciate about a few professors is the fact that they aren't just professors. They are also working professionals within the creative industry. And many times they would hold classes at their offices. This led me to not only working in a professional environment but also receiving feedback from the best people that are in the industry. Sometimes we would just be in the middle of class and the CEO of the company would just walk in and critique our work. And I think that was something that was pretty cool.

Resources wise, the college is equipped with the best of facilities and the latest technology needed for you to create your work. Most of its most facilities, like, for example, digital labs, are 24/7 open and are available to the students whenever they need to use it.

10. Tell us about your journey from the first semester to the last both academically and non-academically? What was campus life like? What were the extracurricular activities on campus?

I mean, I don't even know what to think about first. It's been such a journey from the moment I stepped into my first ever class at the School of Visual Arts, and all the way. It just cannot be put into words be it academically or non-academically. The combination of classes I took, the people I got to meet, and interact with, the events I attended, and just the atmosphere around me - it all made my experience so unique and different.

Something that I noticed is that it's so easy to get caught up in preparing yourself to be able to face your future that we constantly need to keep reminding ourselves that college is the best time to learn. And this is something I would definitely give as a little piece of advice to students starting college or to students who are currently enrolled in one throughout these four years. Like I mentioned earlier, I have not only been able to learn skills relating to my field, but also skills needed to get me through life. So, in a nutshell, I would say that my entire journey has been that of a learning process.

11. Any suggestions or recommendations for freshers starting out?

College is different it’s hard to explain unless you have actually experienced it yourself. It is okay to feel nervous or overwhelmed during the first few days or weeks even. But it’s also important to remember that everyone’s sailing in the same boat as you. College in most cases will not be what you expected it to be and that’s okay because it usually is better than your expectations.

12. How is the quality of education compared to Indian institutes? How did you manage to cope?

Firstly I think studying abroad comes with a lot of extra benefits besides the quality of education. An international bachelor’s or a Master’s degree defiantly opens up a lot of doors to employability prospects abroad. I also feel like the Indian students who return back to their home towns seeking job opportunities definitely have an upper hand in most cases as well.

Secondly studying abroad in a way has also helped me study further than in your chosen field. So for e.g. for all you know you could be pursuing a major in engineering and a minor in philosophy or artistry.

Lastly, colleges abroad engage students in active learning through class participation, case studies, teamwork, group projects, on-campus experiences, off-campus trips and I think all of this just makes learning so much more fun and meaningful.

It’s just a wholesome experience.

As far as coping with the level of studies is concerned there are tonnes of people on campus who are willing to help be it your professors, faculty members counselors, anyone even your fellow students and classmates, they are always there to help you out in any way. But I think in all it eventually comes down to how interested you are in your course and how hard you are willing to work.

13. What were the career opportunities available? How does one manage to grab them?

Unfortunately due to the Covid -19 pandemic and suffering job market the career opportunities available to me were very few. However, in cases other than such there are ample opportunities available within the fields of advertising, design, photography, or be it any creative line. The School of Visual Arts also organizes Career Fairs every year where students in their senior year get to meet and interact with employers. They also get the opportunity to showcase their work. Other than that, online platforms like LinkedIn students can also get in touch with previous or current professors and have them recommend you to potential employers. Another thing that I think is super important is to have some sort of an online presence in the form of a website, blog, or even like a basic Instagram account. Employers search online for creative talent and potential employees so I think that’s something that’s very important when it comes specifically to advertising or design fields.

14. Tell us a little bit about your current job profile and work.

Currently, I am working as a marketing and advertising intern at Fine Organics in the USA. My job profile includes but is not limited to conducting market research, assisting with content writing for website, social media, and marketing collateral, and in collaborating with the marketing team to create new ideas for promoting products. It’s been only 2 weeks since my internship started but I already feel like I am learning so much and I am excited to see what’s in store for me in near future.

15. How did a study abroad help you?

Studying abroad has been a life-changing experience for me. As far as my educational and professional background is concerned the benefits to my educational and career has been significant apart from that I have also seen a change in my personal development from expanding my global network to exploring new cultures, making new friends, trying out new things. Generally, my entire experience has been very engaging. I would definitely recommend a study abroad be it a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, be it in art, science, or commerce major, and be it now or later on in life.



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