BUSINESS

IMC major ‘Pops’ into new communication manager position

Kimberly Conklin, class of 2019

Cloi Bryan
Oxford Stories
Cpbryan@go.olemiss.edu

California native Kimberly Conklin, class of 2019, studied IMC at the University of Mississippi. Today, she is the communications manager at PopMenu, a customer engagement engine that allows independent restaurant owners to control their online presence through interactive menus and hospitality.

Conklin, who was initially a political science major, fell in love with the poli-sci track’s prerequisites, such as Journalism 101 and many IMC courses, before knowing political science wasn’t the right choice for her. She realized she wanted to be creative.

Eventually, after having a “come to Jesus moment,” she switched from political science to IMC the first semester of her junior year.

“I felt so confident in switching my major late because I was enjoying all of the IMC classes I was taking and seriously never had a single bad instructor at the School of Journalism,” she said. 

Conklin said she enjoyed professor Christina Sparks’ account planning class.

“Her classes get booked up so fast,” she said. “She is incredible.”

Conklin also took a fashion elective her senior year and participated in many collaborative assignments with her peers. After graduating, she knew she wanted a career in digital marketing after moving to Austin, Texas, in June of 2019, to take her first job at Vess Consulting Group as a part-time marketing consultant and assistant.

After working there for about four months, she was offered a full-time position at Found marketing agency, which specializes in curating and amplifying the stories of Texas cities, towns, and local businesses through advertising tourism campaigns and hospitality.

Unfortunately, with the significant impact that COVID-19 brought to the travel industry, two weeks later, after the cancellation of one of Austin’s largest events, South by Southwest, Conklin was laid off from her marketing position at Found.

Conklin said she soon realized the IMC program at UM had set students up for success. In every job she took out of college, Conklin felt fully prepared for what she was being asked to do because of the many lessons and skills she learned.

For example, when Conklin was taking a Google Ads class offered to IMC students, she became certified on that platform, which made her stand out among other applicants when applying for jobs in the marketing field. During her time in the Capstone campaigns class at Ole Miss, she developed ideas and created a marketing plan for the UM School of Law.

While taking this course, IMC students learn by creating marketing projects for real clients. Part of Conklin’s job now is to create marketing plans and strategies for new clients every quarter.

“Everything we ended up doing in IMC, which at the time felt so excessive, has been so helpful within my career,” she said.

When it comes to marketing, it is essential to be advanced in many skills. One of the biggest takeaways from Conklin’s journalism classes was learning how to write confidently and professionally. In one of her jobs, she was in charge of recruiting, training and supervising interns. She said it’s important to develop excellent writing skills now, so you are prepared to take on any writing that comes your way within your career field.

After being laid off from her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Conklin freelanced for a while until she started her current job as a communication manager at PopMenu, where she works primarily on digital and email marketing campaigns.

Conklin said she would love to run a recognizable nonprofit marketing campaign specializing in income equality and benefitting women’s rights, or perhaps even Habitat for Humanity in Austin, Texas. During the pandemic, she volunteered at a nonprofit organization called Catchafire, where she donated her time and skills in marketing to assist nonprofits looking for professionals. At Catchafire, she worked as a social media manager.

Conklin and friends at Austin City Limits music festival

Erin McGrath is a friend of Conklin’s and fellow classmate. She said the two have supported each other through their academic and professional careers after becoming friends their freshman year through their sorority. Around the same time of their junior year, they both switched their majors to pursue their studies at the School of Journalism and New Media.

“It was a lot of fun to go through that process together because I don’t think either one of us knew what we could do with our majors at that time,” McGrath said, who was an education major before switching to print journalism. “It’s been a lot of fun being able to experience finding our career paths together… I think that’s an experience not a lot of people get to share with each other.”

Conklin said she has learned time management and establishing expectations that must be met within any job you may find yourself in.

“It is up to you to get the job done,” she said. “Being able to establish expectations with your supervisors and clients has been huge for me.”

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