Ally Kennedy: Why did you decide to pursue your master's in IMC?
Lindsay Tjepkema: I did always have a goal of completing a master’s degree. It is something that has been important to me for as long as I can remember - a higher bar I had set for myself early on. I actually pursued an MBA first, shortly after undergrad. I thought it was the degree that would be best for my career, but I quickly realized it wasn’t right for me. I’m a marketer and a leader, and the most important elements of an advanced degree for me were those covered by the IMC program, not so much in an MBA.
AK: Why did you pick the WVU IMC program?
LT: I chose the WVU IMC program because it offered the subject matter that directly aligned with my career and professional development goals, while also providing the flexibility I needed at a price I could afford. It was the one program that checked all of those boxes.
AK: What is your current position and what are your job responsibilities?
LT: I am the global head of content for Emarsys, the largest independent marketing platform company in the world. Here, I oversee a team of content marketers as we create and execute a global strategy to reach, engage and build trust among our identified target audiences. I work with leaders throughout the company to understand what information our business wants to share (Product Team), what our current and prospective clients want to know (Sales and Client Success Teams) and how we can most effectively engage with them through various marketing activities (working with my fellow marketing leaders in Demand Gen, Product Marketing, Communications, Creative, etc.).
Although the primary role of my team is content marketing, and I do focus quite a bit on content strategy, creation, optimization and measurement, I also spend a LOT of my own time working to integrate strategies and tactics with others to achieve shared goals.
AK: Do you feel that your degree helps you stand out from the crowd?
LT: I have found that many marketers today are really focused on one area of marketing. Their experience and education has lead them to specialize in a single approach or just a couple of channels. In contrast, the IMC program helped me expand my knowledge of several areas, tactics, strategies and perspectives. Because of this, I think the real value of my master’s degree in IMC is not in the line it added to my resume or LinkedIn profile (though that IS, in fact, valuable), it is instead in the breadth and depth of overall marketing knowledge I bring to the projects and teams I work with.
AK: How has your IMC course work helped you in your current position? Are there any specific examples of projects at work where your IMC courses came in handy?
LT: Along with the professional experiences I’ve learned from over the years, my IMC education taught me to think more broadly about the marketing projects I’m involved in and strategies I'm responsible for. It would be easy in my role, for example, to focus exclusively on content strategy, but that would be irresponsible as a marketing leader in my company, as it would lead to missed opportunities, inefficiencies and less-than-optimal campaigns.
The IMC program forces students to look outside their existing experience and education
to approach marketing from a more holistic perspective. To me, that’s incredibly
valuable for marketers at every level.
AK: What would you tell someone who is thinking about starting the IMC program
but isn't sure if online education or the IMC program is right for them?
LT: Only you know what you’re looking for in a graduate program, but if you’re seeking flexibility, you’re willing to provide the focus and discipline necessary to truly learn from the curriculum and content, and you are committed to actively participating in the online community to build relationships, the WVU IMC program will likely be a good fit. The saying that “you get out what you put in” is so true here. Regardless of what program you choose, the value you get from the program is a direct correlation to the effort you put into it.
AK: Overall, how do you feel about your time in the WVU IMC program and your master’s degree in integrated marketing communications? What was your biggest takeaway from the WVU IMC program?
LT: It took me 5 years to complete the program. Why? Because during that time I had all three of my children (two of which were twins), changed jobs twice, started my own company, and moved three times - including one interstate relocation! This program allowed me the flexibility to do it, but I had to provide the motivation.
To say that managing coursework, my professional work, and parenting three very small children was difficult is an understatement. But I did it. And I’m extremely proud of that.
In addition to the curriculum and what I learned through the courses and from my professors and classmates, I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of when I put my mind to it. It’s part of my story - one I have shared personally and professionally as evidence to others of my commitment, my work ethic, and my ability to achieve more than others think is possible.