Entrepreneur & Ole Miss Instructor
Describe your current position at Ole Miss.
I've been at Ole Miss since January of 2016 as an Instructor in their IMC, or Integrated Marketing Communications, Program. It's a relatively new program (five years young) that utilizes multiple media platforms to form comprehensive campaigns. Students learn everything from print and digital media marketing, to design and writing content for print and web. They all graduate with a minor in business to accompany their major.
How did you find yourself in education?
I was in business for a little over a year when a former professor reached out to me via social media to let me know about an opportunity to teach at the University of Memphis. I was in a Summer entrepreneurship intensive at the time and had very quickly grown my own network of business owners and creatives in Memphis. Based on my background and how quickly I learned about owning and operating a business, the school hired me to be an instructor of entrepreneurship in the Fogelman College of Business. The first semester was eye opening in that I soon realized that I first had to teach students to think beyond borders in order to get them primed for the mindset of an entrepreneur. I discovered that even more than teaching entrepreneurship was instilling some lessons and skills learned outside of the classroom to help further students along.
What’s your day-to-day like?
I have dedicated office hours for my students but my day-to-day is a myriad of teaching, grading, classroom prep and learning more about each individual student. There is the flexibility of being off for Summer, Winter break and Thanksgiving week, which is likely one of the best benefits you can ask for.
How would you describe your classroom environment?
My students never know what to expect when they come to class. One day we played dodgeball outside so they could learn how to shoot video using their phones and create 60 second promotions using apps. Another day we had an entire class held via Twitter, utilizing a hashtag to communicate with no actual words spoken — which was interesting as many of my more reserved students are much more vocal via social media. We'e done brainstorming sessions with post-it notes flying across the building, Google Hangouts with the Mayor of Oxford, and game shows to practice skill sets. I think of my classroom as the perfect marriage of collegiate lessons bottled in kindergarten methods. While we have done a lot of off the wall, atypical lectures, students have also learned how to utilize Google Keyword Planner to estimate the cost of running a SEM campaign, defined target demographics using Facebook's Power Editor, and dived into Google Analytics to discover how web visitor insights can chart the course for a marketing campaign. What I learned in Corporate America is what I teach in the classroom. Students turn in written assignments, or content-based articles, via LinkedIn articles posted to Twitter using the class hashtag #MeekJourno. Every article is tailored towards their specific industry of choice, so if the assignment is to analyze social media brands or websites for strategy, content, and structure, they may choose brands within the fashion industry, or technology, or sports — whatever their interest lies.
The rationale is that if you're going to write about something it might as well be about something you truly care about. The benefit is that employers now see the articles they've written and count it as a nod to their expertise. Many students have told stories of being offered jobs or interviews from the new content they continuously push via LinkedIn — allowing their schoolwork to benefit them before graduation. If we plan to educate young people, we have to learn how to reach them where they are.
Do you have any advice to young women with an interest in your field?
Learn everything you can, connect with people in your field of expertise who are smarter than you and take the challenge of failing as a necessary step in succeeding.