Vandna Cheena Jain is the US Creative Director at BlippAR, am augmented Reality app that unlocks exclusive content from everyday things. She has worked on several accounts including United Airlines, Reebok, PediaSure, Kodak, Kraft Foods, and Dove Chocolate, and more. She has BFA in Graphic Design from Rochester Institute of Technology and a MA in Design Management from the University of Arts London.
Please briefly describe your current position in more detail, including your responsibilities and job tasks:
Currently, I oversee and provide creative direction on all “blipp” experiences within the US and Canada. Our company is the world’s largest augmented reality agency, so we curate experiences based on client requests. I don’t quite have a typical day. It’s a mix of going over project workflow, checking in with my designers on their projects, attending client meetings and ideating concepts based on what they hope to achieve, and delving deep to summarize and define user experience and user pathways. Part of this is understanding and collaborating with our development team and the other is look at how we can innovate even more within the space to create more engaging experiences since the realm of advertising is drastically changing.
Please briefly describe your career path, including the reasons behind job changes, since graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology:
Once I graduated I worked in Syracuse and Rochester for a little over 2 years before deciding to move back to my home town, New York City. I continued in the Art Direction realm until the recession hit and it was hard for find job opportunities so I applied to and attended a school in London. I moved there for a year, where I earned a Masters in Design Management, a program that deals with strategy, innovation, change management, design thinking and design efficiency. It was a game changer and allowed me to learn about relevancy of design for consumers, user experience, insight and design beyond a visual mechanic. I also learned a significant amount about psychology and media and behavior theory. Once I came back, I began freelancing and taking more mid to senior level roles as well as teaching three courses at Miami Ad School. My portfolio was well regarded by the NY recruitment community along with dozens of others. So it was my mix of experience and expertise that proved unusual and highly regarding, which eventually led me to my role at Blippar.
How did your experiences at Rochester Institute of Technology (e.g., academic studies, extra-curricular activities, student groups) prepare you for your career?:
I was involved in way too many things at RIT and I think I had a ridiculous sense of time management, which really helps me today. Being president and secretary of AIGA was intense, but was also an avenue to try and build a community at RIT. I also acquired a total of 3 degrees while I was there so that I could have a more rounded perspective. Often times people silo themselves in one hemisphere, but it was great taking Small Business Management and Marketing classes at the Center for Multi Disciplinary Studies because it expanded my viewpoint. I also felt lucky enough to focus on the old fashion creation of visuals with the photography department, obtaining that appreciation and attention to detail. And then I had excellent mentors, most of whom I am still in touch with and visit. They instilled the understanding that it isn’t about grades or subjectivity, but about your dedication and passion. It’s not about the degree, but rather it’s about what you learn.
What job resources (internships, summer opportunities, work experiences, or individuals) have influenced your career choice(s)?:
I found internships through a summer program at Pace University my freshman year. I think at the time, design and arts were not viewed in the perspective that they are now. Now we have start ups and apps and innovation, which design heavily influences. But at that time, there were limited resources, partially because agencies didn’t really recruit, you had to go to them. And the traditional agencies were these scary giants that you drooled at, but later had to reinvent themselves or become outdated. My professors were incredible. I still look at them as my mentors and now my friends and peers. I dealt with a heavy situation my first year and I think my passion for design and the influence of my professors is what helped me excel.
What advice would you give to a student interested in your field?:
Be curious. Be daring. Be bold. Be dedicated. Be intense. Be weird. Be fearless. But don’t BE a slug.
(A slug is a person that just scoots through their life/career/education doing the bare minimum to get to where they need to go. Or someone who goes through the motions but doesn’t actually truly make anything of it.)
You’re only ever going to BE as good as you allow yourself to BE.
Click to view Cheena’s portfolio
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