'08 BS, Public Relations
Kimberly Kump had already begun a career in political science when she realized following her dreams meant following a different career path. That’s when she turned to Belmont University’s Public Relations program.
Modeling herself after a fictional White House press Secretary – C.J. Cregg from The West Wing — was just the first in a series of steps that allowed Kimberly Kump, age 27, to move from campaign manager to a seasoned public relations executive.
“When I chose political science as my college major the first time, it was because I wanted to be C.J. from The West Wing,” says Kump. “After I graduated with a political science degree and worked in the field, I realized that I really wanted to be working in the public relations side of political science.”
Kump, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Columbus State University in May, 2004, moved to Tennessee after graduation and worked for the Tennessee Republican Party as a campaign manager. She ran state House campaigns and worked with a state senator, and her job included everything from knocking on doors to handling media relations and public relations. When the 2004 campaign season ended, so did her seasonal job.
“I knew I had to have a Plan B,” says Kump. “I was very involved in journalism in high school, and I also enjoyed public speaking and the political realm. You get to see more “in your face” pr when you’re in politics.”
Kump turned to Belmont University and pursued a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations as a second degree, graduating in December 2008 after just four semesters. “I never thought I wanted to go back to school,” says Kump. “But for people to think I was capable of working in Public Relations, I needed the educational background. The best part was that I knew what to expect. Being in the corporate world, I knew which parts were important and why it was important. At the same time, going to Belmont wasn’t a typical college experience. I found myself all over again.”
Kump said it was a huge benefit that she could build her professional portfolio while attending class at Belmont. “I thought I would have to finish classes and then go out and build a professional portfolio on my own,” says Kump. “I was shocked to have projects assigned within class that helped me build a portfolio right away. I was afraid it would all be textbook, but I had hands-on public relations experience in every class.”
As part of that hands-on experience, Kump had the opportunity to work on the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate 2008 hosted by Belmont University in October 2008. She said she learned about the opportunity through one of her public relations classes and helped assemble media packets; including newsletters, pamphlets and fact sheets and passed them out the weekend before the debate. “It was amazing to be a part of that unique experience,” says Kump.
While she was pursuing a second degree at Belmont, Kump also changed career directions, working for a national insurance company as an Account Manager, where she services specific accounts, partners with them, travels to their site when needed and sells additional coverage. Kump says that when she started back to Belmont’s Public Relations program, she was in a lower level position within her company, but received a promotion as a result of keeping to her work schedule and maintaining her quality of work.
“Sales and public relations go hand in hand,” says Kump. “To be able to grow in the job I’m in now, I needed to differentiate between myself and others within the field. As a result of the specific public relations skills I learned at Belmont, I was able to make myself more marketable in the business world and to my own company.”
Adds Kump, “Competition is steep. I have the confidence to know that I did it. There is a prestige to the Belmont name. It stands for something here.”