By Arial Starks
In today’s digital age, it is nearly impossible to find a professional industry in which social media is not utilized as a business tool. Whether you are in the food industry or a marketing professional, it can be expected that you will use social media to some extent as a part of your job. Vanderbilt Master of Marketing graduates Amelia Green (MMARK’23) and Jen Reynolds (MMARK’20) share where their marketing careers have taken them since leaving Owen and how the program prepared them for a career in social media and beyond.
The Vanderbilt Master of Marketing curriculum
The Vanderbilt Master of Marketing program offers students a holistic understanding of the world of Marketing through an applicable and customizable curriculum. Graduates of the program, like Reynolds and Green, are a product of how the program equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a marketing career.
Green was a Public Relations (PR) major as an undergrad, so she says skills like copywriting and digital creation were already strong suits of hers. But, she was looking to expand her skills and knowledge by furthering her education.
“I always tell people my undergrad experience taught me the how, but I wanted to know the why,” Green said. “So I describe the Master of Marketing program as the why to my how, and it really just added that extra level of business knowledge that I feel I needed to be able to work in any industry – whether that’s marketing for a sports team or an aviation company like I’m working for now.”
Reynolds shares how, before the program, she was not a numbers-savvy person and enjoyed the more creative elements of marketing. She says the experiences she had in the program were very applicable to her current role, and she pulls from those experiences often.
“I think the Master of Marketing program really set me up for this particular role that I’m in now,” she said. “Estée Lauder wants everyone to be end-to-end with marketing, similarly to how Vanderbilt Business approaches the curriculum where you learn the analytical side of the company through the Consumer Insights, Pricing Strategies, and Statistics courses. All of those numbers-facing classes are balanced with all of the more creative classes we took. What I am doing now really blends all of those together, and I am really pulling experiences from all of those courses, which is so wonderful.”
Using social media to dive into a marketing career
Reynolds entered the Vanderbilt Master of Marketing program in 2019 with aspirations of landing a marketing role within the beauty industry. After graduating in the spring of 2020, Reynolds began her marketing career working with snack company Daily Crunch, where she held the position of Social Media & Digital Marketing Lead. Through her experience with Daily Crunch, even though she was not yet working in her desired industry, she gained transferable skills she still uses in her role today.
“In that role I helped with projects like investor decks and digital marketing. I was able to do so many things that I don’t think I would have been able to do in my first role right out of the program, because sometimes when you apply to a social media role, that’s all you’re doing,” Reynolds explained. “Being at a start-up, I was really lucky and I feel like I got to dip my toes in all of these different projects and see what I like, what I don’t like, and what I’m passionate about.”
Green began her career in September 2022 working on Social Media for Employment Branding at Dollar General. While she knew she did not want her career to only consist of social media, through this opportunity, she learned that the skills you use to run social media for a company are transferable and can be used as stepping stones to take you anywhere in the world of marketing. Green says one of her most important takeaways from her social media role is adaptability.
“Being able to adapt is huge, mainly because things can change in a split second,” she said. “In undergrad, I was in journalism school and I thought that moved fast, but social media is so instant and at customers’ or users’ fingertips in an instant. I think it (social media) teaches people how to think on their feet in a very strategic way. I think it also refines your writing skills, because I was not only doing the social media calendar for Dollar General, but also working and collaborating with PR, writing copy and jumping through hoops to get all of that approved. So, learning how to write in the voice of a company and almost being the gatekeeper of that voice through my role with Dollar General was very important for me to learn.”
Honing social media skills as a gateway to marketing expertise
Since her first marketing role with Daily Crunch, Reynolds has since worked in a Social Media Coordinator role for Tarte Cosmetics, which led to her current role with her dream company: The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., where she holds the title of Associate, Global Marketing, AERIN Beauty.
“I felt like I wasn’t really tapping into my full potential with my previous role because it was very defined to just social media,” she shared. “At the time, I thought I liked it, but I later realized I needed something a little bit more multifaceted, broad, and challenging. I was very challenged in the Master of Marketing program, and social media comes a bit easier to me – so I didn’t feel super challenged in the role. When I moved on to AERIN at Estée Lauder, I felt this immediate sense of ‘I’m learning so much, I’m really being challenged, and most importantly, my managers are being so supportive of my upward trajectory’.”
After leaving Dollar General in the summer of 2023, Green began a new position as the Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Foreflight, an integrated flight app for pilots. In this new role, her primary focus is no longer social media, but she instead collaborates with the social media team as a part of her new job.
“I am now more of a copywriter and taking on more of a leadership role in creating that content,” Green explains. “Social media really was a stepping stone for me, because I could come to this position and bring all of the transferable skills I gained from my social media role and continue to add on from there. I think of it (social media) as legos that you just keep adding on to.”
Reynolds says even having moved into a more multifaceted role, she still believes social media is one of the most important marketing tools you can possess.
“With influencer marketing, PR seeding, and all of these new outlets companies didn’t have before, brands get so much more exposure now via social media,” she says. “I personally find out about so many products through influencers and brands that I follow on social media. I’m not necessarily checking brands’ websites everyday or just browsing on Google waiting for advertisements from brands to pop up on my screen, so the ability to have targeted ads on social media is monumental.”
Green has some insight for anyone looking to pursue a career involving social media:
“I think a lot of people underestimate how much thought and work goes into social media because it is something that most everyone has, but only a few can do it really well,” she said. “It has a low barrier to entry, and retention is not really great, because it is a really tough job. Everyone has an opinion and you have to focus on what’s best for the company. You are speaking on behalf of an organization, and you have to keep in mind the values of the company that you are representing.”