Dream Big

Meet three recent University of Mississippi graduates who landed jobs with big-name companies.

Written by Abigail Nichols | Illustrated by Esther Sitver

After enduring a global pandemic and conquering a tough job market, Eumetria Jones, Jay Smith and Cate Thompson have turned their dreams into reality with impressive first jobs for some pretty amazing companies.

Each graduate attributes some of their current success to what they learned in the classroom; however, it took much more than textbooks, seminars and trips to the library. They also followed their hearts.

Eumetria Jones | Yeti | Austin, Texas

Eumetria Jones, 21, found her calling in the booming city of Austin, Texas, where she landed a job as a social media coordinator for Yeti. The Byhalia and Memphis native graduated in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications and a minor in general business and emphasis in public relations.

Jones, who had her mind set on moving to Austin upon graduation, originally interviewed to be an intern for Yeti’s account team, and while that position didn’t pan out, something greater came from the experience. During her interview process, Jones fostered a friendship with a Yeti HR Business Talent Partner, who in turn mentored Jones.

“She gave me the tools and knowledge to prepare for my future interviewing process,” Jones said. After eight grueling interviews with individuals all across the company, Jones landed the job.

“I am the eyes and ears for the company,” Jones said. “I am the first person you are in contact with when reaching out to the company on social media, whether it be Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or TikTok, you are in touch with me, and I, in turn, express your thoughts, feelings, comments, etc., on to our senior leadership teams, our content creation team, brand teams and every team in between.”

Her role doesn’t just keep her behind the screen. Since starting full time in May, while still finishing her undergraduate degree, Jones has attended photo shoots for Yeti content and has traveled to events including the 2021 GoPro Games in Vail, Colorado. There, she met consumers in person, helped with event setup and saw firsthand how consumers view and buy Yeti products.

While Jones is loving her experience with Yeti, she also has future plans to attend law school, and then, one day, wants to start her own social media marketing firm.

“I want to learn the corporate side of things from Yeti and then put it towards my own social media marketing firm,” Jones said. “I want to do something that challenges me, and I want to do it by working fully for myself.”

Her advice for other new graduates looking to pursue their dreams?

“Make connections and continue making new connections daily,” Jones advises. “Surround yourself with people you want to be — it could be mentors, leaders, millionaires, social media influencers — anyone. Position yourself and your mind by educating yourself to be the best version of yourself.”

Jay Smith | FOX Sports | Charlotte, North Carolina

Jay Smith, 24, went off to the races searching for a full-time job while earning his master’s degree in integrated marketing communications. The May 2021 graduate scored big time when he landed a job in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a production assistant for FOX Sports’ NASCAR division.

Smith grew up commentating games for fun, from a game he was playing on his computer or video game console to a big game on TV. So, it wasn’t a big surprise when he decided to attend Clemson University, from which he graduated in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in sports communication.

“Before attending Clemson, I wasn’t aware of just how many people comprise the back end of a production,” Smith said. “Sitting in a live control room and soaking it all in made me realize I wanted to do this for a career.”

Today, the Lexington, South Carolina, native has a workweek unlike many others. With most NASCAR races taking place Friday through Sunday, Smith’s workload is the heaviest during the weekends. On top of the weekend races, he has almost daily responsibilities.

“We also produce the daily NASCAR Racehub show out of our Charlotte studios,” Smith said. “So, we usually have at least one event every day of the week. I feel very comfortable under pressure, and I thrive when deadlines are tight.”

In the future, Smith’s goal is to become a producer or director — “the orchestra conductor for the entire show,” he said.

But for now, he’s enjoying where he is. “If there was one thing I could tell my younger self, it is to be patient,” he said. “All of the hard work I poured in over the past eight years has led to this moment and this position at FOX.”

Cate Thompson | Level Group Ltd. | Nashville, Tennessee

Cate Thompson, 23, followed her passion all the way to The Music City where she signs, seals and delivers financial services for clients at music management company Level Group Ltd. The Nashville native graduated in May 2020 with a B.B.A. in business management with an emphasis in human resources and minors in psychology and entrepreneurship.

Like many other young adults and college graduates, Thompson experienced obstacles when it came to the job market. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she faced hiring freezes, small job markets and the lack of need for entry-level positions.

Still, upon graduation she was an events intern at Nashville International Center for Empowerment and worked part time at both ScholarshipAuditions.com as a research assistant and at United Apparel Liquidators as an E-Commerce assistant.

Meanwhile, she continued her search for a full-time job.

While Thompson’s childhood career dreams had changed from year to year, she always wanted to work with people and to be in business where she could use versatile skills in adaptive environments. At first, she thought she might find something in human resources; however, she kept coming back to her interests in the entertainment industry.

So, she narrowed her search to job opportunities that would allow her to utilize the management skills she learned at Ole Miss and line up with her interests in performing arts and entertainment.

Her hard work job searching finally paid off in late 2020, when she came across a post on LinkedIn for a position with Level Group Ltd.

Thompson was soon hired as the new merchandise and royalties associate for the multi-service music business management firm.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” Thompson said. “It really was a blessing, and I can’t thank you enough, LinkedIn!”

In her role at Level, Thompson consults and creates projects for specialized clients. Her responsibilities include streamlining accounting processes and moving clients toward organizationally efficient systems for creating their payments.

Thompson says she is happy to have found a healthy and collaborative culture at Level, and she loves the work that she does. While she hopes to continue to grow her career in the entertainment industry, she is taking time to enjoy where she is now. She advises her peers to do the same, even as they are job searching.

“Focus on the present — be in the moment and enjoy where you are, not what is next,” she said. “If you focus solely on the destination, life will pass you by. Learn to enjoy and embrace the journey.”

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