MSU Alumni Dervon Thompson, who earned a B.A. in Journalism with a concentration in Sports Reporting, is already taking his career by storm despite his recent graduation during a pandemic in 2020. Since August of 2020, Thompson has worked as the Associate Community Manager for Ignite Social Media. During his time at MSU, he worked as a reporter for WKAR Current Sports and a writer for Spartan Newsroom. He was also the secretary of the MSU Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists during his senior year.
At Michigan State University, we invited him to share his experiences in a Q&A with ComArtSci.
Q. When you look back at your life and work so far, what gives you the most pride?
A. Something I’m most proud of is firstly, developing as a person and journalist and also participating in MSU NABJ and helping it get back up and running. From joining my freshman year, where we had one meeting, to my senior year, where we were thriving with healthy membership and annual meetings, and even now, seeing that the progress continues to go strong, makes me proud and happy to say the least.
Q. What inspires you to work toward your goals and accomplishments?
A. Family and my community are two of the biggest factors. I’ve always been super family oriented and wanted more for my family and friends. Wanting to see them happy and thrive has always kept me focused to excel at everything I do, to be put in a position to help or provide for them. Also, wanting to help and grow my community in the right direction keeps me focused as well.
Q. Could you describe a typical day in your professional life?
A. Unfortunately, working remotely I haven’t experienced a true typical day. A typical remote working day for me is logging in around 9 or before 9, I check my emails and tasks for the day first, then check the social media accounts for my brands that I am assigned to. I respond to the messages or mentions that come in, then I schedule or post the content that we come up with for the specific channels. Depending on the day, I have meetings to discuss things from research, what’s going on across channels, team meetings and many other things. I also spend a lot of time researching what’s going on, as far as trends with our channels and what can be done by our clients just to continue to grow in followers. I don’t think there is ever just a set day for me, which I enjoy the most. Besides checking the social accounts, my tasks vary day to day.
Q. What are some of the greatest challenges and opportunities working in your field?
A. Working in my current field, I think there is always room to grow. Even though I am technically managing the accounts, I still help with creating content, I can create content, and I’m not just stuck in one spot. The challenging part, to me, is the learning process, and it’s a field where things change rapidly. I feel as if social media relates to journalism and the marketing fields, and those industries have basic foundations, but change very often.
Q. What would you consider to be the defining point in your life or career?
A. My internship with Amrock as a copywriting intern was probably the defining moment for me. It showed me that my journalism skills are useful and helpful in many ways. As a journalist, being sociable, always questioning, being able to write, paying attention to trends and many other things are huge, even in the marketing field, and I noticed that helped me excel. While writing is something I will always love to do, I saw that marketing was the route for me, especially since the fields are closely related, in the social media realm specifically.
Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned along the way?
A. An important lesson I learned is that hard work is never unnoticed. From internships to different classes, the amount of work you put in shows, and people notice it and will call it out. That leads to not only praise but awards and most importantly even jobs.
Q. What opportunities did you have at MSU or ComArtSci that helped you get where you are today?
A. Help from MSU NABJ always kept me focused, being around like-minded individuals that also look like me was always a big help. Help from professors like Joe Grimm and Joanne Gerstner also were a big help, just with support and being there, as well as Professor Grimm helping me get scholarships.
Q. How do you give back to your community or motivate others to work toward the common good?
A. I try to lead by example. Showing people results of what happens when you continue to work hard, and always being there for someone by providing help. Sometimes, it helps others when they know they have someone in their corner. I’m one of those people, and I know the feeling of having someone where you can at least ask someone for help, advice or whatever the case. Even if they can’t help, knowing they responded gives you the confidence in yourself that you don’t have to do it alone, so I always try my best to be the person to help or lead someone in a direction to help to the best of my ability.
Q. What advice would you give to MSU and ComArtSci students?
A. Internships are always something. Find internships, and even if you don’t think you’ll like it or get it, try it out because the outcome can be a shock. Also, work on your craft and yourself. Expand your knowledge of things you know, and do and be a good person while doing it, because being a genuinely good person sometimes put you in positions, before the actual skills you have.
Q. If you could offer a message of comfort or support, what would you say directly to students who are studying at MSU in these uncertain times?
A. I think now is one of the most important times to learn, period. I stress learning yourself, because if you don’t have faith in yourself or know yourself, things become even harder. Learn the industries you want to go into, learn how you can better the skills you have, so when the time does come, you’ll be prepared.
Q. From your experience in the global pandemic, what would you most like to share with the Spartan community?
A. Even with all the uncertainty in today’s world, don’t worry and trust in yourself. Leaving college so unexpectedly, I had no idea what was coming at me. Post-graduation is already tough, let alone a pandemic forcing you into the world makes it even harder. All I could do is prepare myself, read, look into the industries like journalism and marketing, and try to prepare. I reflected on myself and even the world. It’s very tough being in a place of the unknown, especially when all you have really is your immediate family there to comfort you, in person at least. You have to be right with yourself, trust yourself, and believe in yourself. If you are comfortable with yourself, the love and help from others becomes a cherry on top. Find what you want for yourself and attack it, then that passion inevitably spreads to the other aspects of your life, like family, friends and everything else, and things become a bit easier for yourself.
By Demetria Bias