The Master of Marketing graduate pivoted from studying sociology in Wisconsin to running social media campaigns in Colorado

Haley Jo Kimmen

Like most first-year college students, Haley Jo Kimmen (MMark’18) entered the University Wisconsin-Madison with no idea of what she wanted to study, much less what career she wanted to pursue. After taking classes in a variety of different subjects, Kimmen developed a strong interest in sociology, eventually declaring a major in the field. Then during her junior year, she enrolled in a sociology for business course — and realized that plain sociology might not her true passion after all.

“That (class) is when it became clear to me that I wasn’t necessarily interested in social behavior but was more interested in consumer behavior and the way we interact with brands,” Kimmen said. She began taking more marketing courses and pursuing marketing internships, eventually graduating with a minor in business alongside her sociology degree.

Finding a Graduate Program

Kimmen decided to further her business education before entering the workforce and began searching for Master of Marketing programs. Fittingly enough, the future social media marketer first learned about the Vanderbilt Business Master of Marketing program through a Facebook ad. Since Kimmen came from a college with over 40,000 students, the close-knit community at Owen appealed to her a lot. “I really liked that I was going to be able to use the resources on a more personal level,” she said.

Another big draw of Owen’s Master of Marketing program was the MBA-level coursework. “You have exposure to classes with MBA students, so even though most of us were coming into the Master of Marketing program without having been in the workforce for very long, or at all, we were able to interact with some of the MBA students who had more experience and (could) give advice about interviews and company culture,” Kimmen said.

Kimmen (center) studies with her Master of Marketing classmates at Owen

Kimmen found that the close, collaborative nature of the Master of Marketing program was the perfect fit for her. “It was so much fun having such a small class size (as) we all did get really close,” she said. “At the end of a mod, we always leaned on each other and celebrated together…We were able to laugh at each other’s mistakes and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.”

From Sociology to Social Media

During her time at Owen, Kimmen explored different fields of marketing, from researching consumer insights for Nashville’s annual Oktoberfest to consulting for local businesses during BrandWeek. Kimmen found herself especially drawn to social media marketing, and became a Social Media Coordinator for the Owen Marketing and Communications department to gain more experience in the field.

In her Social Media Coordinator role, Kimmen essentially targeted people who — like herself — were interested in pursuing graduate business education. She drew on her knowledge as a member of the target demographic while also looking at the data to inform her decisions. “What I loved about working for Owen was that we were so ready to learn,” Kimmen said. “Even if we thought… people are going to love (a certain campaign), maybe they don’t. That’s okay, but being able to be agile and adjust to make sure to provide content that is relevant (is important).”

Ultimately, Kimmen’s experience confirmed her desire to launch her career in social media marketing. She says she enjoys the personal nature of connecting consumers to relevant products. “What interested me about social and paid social is that it’s so one-to-one,” she said. “You can make it so relevant for the audience you want to speak to and I think that’s part of it that’s rewarding is that I’m trying to get in front of people (for whom) this product is a good fit already.”

Marketing in the Mountains

Kimmen at Rocky Mountain National Park

When Kimmen began recruiting for full-time marketing positions, she kept two criteria in mind: She wanted to work in social media, and she wanted to live in the Denver area. The city’s prime location near the majestic Rocky Mountains appealed to her, as did the growing business opportunities. As Kimmen began researching Denver-based positions, DISH was the first large company that caught her eye. “Their marketing department is in-house, and they have programs that prioritize each employee’s professional growth, so there would be plenty of opportunity to learn and grow,” she said.

However, as a millennial consumer of streaming services, Kimmen was also well aware of the decline of paid TV. She made sure to do her research before pursuing a position at DISH, and what she found convinced her that the company was the right fit. “I admired the way they were keeping a pulse to the market and understood that consumer behavior was changing and took action to innovate,” she said. “It’s promising to see that such a large company would still be so receptive and reactive to changing trends.”

Kimmen began applying for marketing positions at DISH in spring of 2018, and secured a full-time offer as a Paid Social Media Specialist for the digital marketing department shortly after graduation. Her role involves working with the customer acquisition team to bring in new customers. She manages social media campaigns, collaborates with the in-house creative agency to create visual assets and copy, oversees the day-to-day execution of the ad, and analyzes performance before reporting back to key business stakeholders.

“Getting to be a part of these efforts from start to finish is rewarding, and being able to be seen as the paid social expert and drive meaningful results across the business keeps me excited to come to work every day,” she said.

Want to know more about the Master of Marketing at Vanderbilt Business? Visit the program page or request more information.