“Journalism dramatically changed over the years, and lots of what I’ve learned is now obsolete,” Karen Tshimanga said. “However, I must say that my time at the Reynolds School did shape me to learn key skills such as communication, editing, entertainment, etc. And until this day, I still use some of my knowledge since it is applicable to the digital world.”
A December 2010 graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, Tshimanga focused on public relations during her time at the school. The summer before she graduated, she became an intern for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
“I lived there for 3 months and was able to learn so much about event marketing and PR. I was assigned to the German and Ghana teams who I planned local events for,” she said. “Once both teams were eliminated, I just worked on various events for the remaining of the cup such as VIP guests hosting and private parties.”
After graduation, she moved to New York City to start her career in public relations, working on events like New York Fashion Week, Fashion Brands and Love & Hip-Hop. She realized quickly event marketing was not her career path and started work as a stylist in retail.
“Being broke and a big shopper was a dangerous combo, and I learned the hard way that I was not going to be able to sustain this lifestyle without a solid job,” Tshimanga said.
She used Instagram and Facebook to promote her stylist business but had to think creatively since the shopping features were not yet available on the social media platforms. Using the services piqued her interest in how digital advertising worked.
“I became fascinated by all those online ads that kept following me on all websites and then sent me coupon codes. I wanted to understand the full mechanism of how those banners were created, how I was targeted, how they got my info and who decided what content would resonate with me,” she said. “I thought, if I could understand that flow, I could also apply it to my work.”
After taking a digital marketing course at New York University, Tshimanga enrolled in the graduate program and graduated in 2015 with a Master of Business Administration degree in digital marketing.
“It was truly fascinating to learn skills and tools about advertising, online marketing and digital strategies. After completing and graduating from NYU, I had no idea where to use those skills, so many jobs, so many paths,” she said. “One thing was for sure: I wanted a 9-5 job at an advertising agency. There were so many jobs opening in various departments, and I could not pick one, so I picked all of them and applied for a project management job.”
Tshimanga landed her first advertising job at McCann, serving as a project manager for Verizon. She moved to a smaller agency and then took her current job as a senior campaign program manager at VMYL&R, working with the New Balance team.
“I've produced and worked on amazing New Balance campaigns such as the NY Marathon, London Marathon, Real Time Exception Spotting, and our team won multiple awards across the globe.”
For upcoming graduates about to enter the workforce, Tshimanga had some simple advice.
“You will fail. You will cry. You will be scared. You will feel discouraged. But at the end, if you have a plan, a real plan and take actions toward following it, you should achieve your goal.”