Like many college students, Emma Gaddy didn’t stick with the same major she had freshmen year. After studying geological engineering for three semesters, she had to make a very important decision – which of the 78 majors that the University of Mississippi offers would she pursue for an undergraduate degree?
After doing extensive research, the Moulton, Alabama native decided to major in integrated marketing communications in the UM School of Journalism and New Media. That decision has led her to become a leader of the Social Media Ambassadors for the UM Department of Communications.
“I had never heard of integrated marketing communications before doing research on different degrees at the university,” said Gaddy. “I did not even know much about what having an IMC degree is until I started my classes for this major. I started to realize that there was so much I could do with it.”
In her junior year of college, a graduate assistant did a presentation about the Social Media Ambassador program for her Creative Visual Design class. UM’s Social Media Ambassador Program allows students to work closely with UM’s Marketing and Communications Department to brainstorm, create and implement social media content and campaigns for the university. Instantly, Gaddy recognized a great opportunity in the program. She joined the Social Media Ambassador program her second semester of her junior year.
“My first-semester senior year is when I first started thinking about what my next steps were going to be,” said Gaddy. “For the longest time, I thought I was going to law school.”
Her experience and connections made through the IMC major and Social Media Ambassador program changed her mind about attending law school. A few people in the Marketing and Communications Department introduced Gaddy to the IMC graduate program. She began the next step in her career by deciding to pursue a master’s degree in IMC.
“This year and a half have been super transformational and have given me a look into what every day would be in this field,” said Gaddy.
Many people within UM’s Marketing and Communication Department appreciate Gaddy’s hard work for their department, including UM Digital Marketing Specialist Webb Lewis.
“Emma has been a great asset to our team here at University Marketing and Communications,” said Lewis. “Her ability to take a huge workload and execute at a high level has made her seem much more like a colleague than a graduate assistant.”
Gaddy takes on numerous roles within the University Marketing and Communications Department that give her real-world marketing experience. She works with multiple departments within the university to help with their marketing campaigns and channels.
“I have worked on everything from creating content for an email campaign for the Admissions Department to helping the Financial Aid Department remodel their website,” said Gaddy. “I have gotten to write communication plans for both the virtual commencement last year, as well as the two commencements this year.”
Gaddy said her time as a graduate assistant and as a graduate student has helped her navigate what she wants her future career to look like.
“Marketing can be a little overwhelming because there are so many aspects of it,” said Gaddy. “With the graduate assistant position, I have been able to hone in on what I want to do in this field.”
One of the roles Gaddy has acquired while being a graduate assistant is leading the Social Media Ambassador Program, the same program she was an ambassador for in undergraduate.
“Gaddy was my first SMA when I got hired in this position and she was in undergraduate school,” said Lewis. “She now leads a team of more than 20 students creating amazing content for our social media channels.”
Gaddy recommends the graduate IMC program to anyone considering it.
“In graduate school, we do a lot of projects, a lot of papers and a lot of discussions,” said Gaddy. “It feels like you are really in the workplace, which has been beneficial to me because I feel more prepared to step into a job role than if I had not gone through with this graduate program.”
Lewis said Gaddy has always had talent for creating social media content.
“But over the last two years, her skill set has evolved into other areas of marketing and branding,” said Lewis. “I have seen her take on so much more responsibility, such as email campaigns, website redesign and full communication plans for some of the university’s most important events.”
Gaddy hopes to continue in the marketing and communications field for the rest of her career. She hopes to stay in the social media realm of marketing and communications.
Gaddy also hopes to continue working in marketing and communications for UM after her graduate program in a full-time position.
“I love finding ways to tell the Ole Miss story,” said Gaddy.