Mother-Son Duo Pursue Integrated Marketing Degree to Further Respective Careers
When Tammy Dodderidge needs to team up with a fellow student on a project in one of her integrated marketing classes at KU Edwards, she doesn’t have to look far.
Her adult son, Tim, is often right in the seat next to hers.
Together, the Dodderidges are pursuing a master’s degree in the topic — a rare mother-son study buddy combination, but one that’s benefiting both as they seek to grow their respective careers.
"Usually he's the youngest in the class,” Tammy says, “and usually I'm the oldest."
The Dodderidges already shared a legacy at the University of Kansas; Tammy earned her degree in journalism in 1983; Tim duplicated the feat in 2016. While Tammy has had a long career in marketing and communications — she’s the marketing and communications manager for the International Essential Tremor Foundation — Tim was looking for a way to separate himself from other recent grads seeking jobs in the field.
"My mom said, 'I'd love to go back to school,’ but she didn’t want to take the GRE,” Tim says.
As he researched his own grad school possibilities, Tim discovered a fact about the integrated marketing communications program at KU Edwards that proved fateful.
"He came home and said, 'You don't have to have your GRE, mom, you should do it!” Tammy says. "That really gave me a great opportunity. I thought, 'By gosh, I'm going to do this.'"
So the two plunged in together, sharing classes in three of the last four semesters.
"I was worried” about returning to school, Tammy says. “Ohmigosh, I thought he was going to be so far ahead of me.”
Instead, Tim says: "She's been pushing me! I've been surprised."
In fact, the integrated marketing program is mostly aimed at students just like Tammy Dodderidge, according to Matt Tidwell, Ph.D., director of the program.
“Integrated marketing communications is designed for people who are working professionals, and are already working in some aspect of marketing and communications,” Tidwell says.
“We absolutely are prepared to meet people wherever they are in their career journey,” he adds. “We really think that our particular curriculum is adaptable, and certainly suitable for a marketer — whether they're brand new out of college, or with experience all the way to senior level, as with the likes of the Dodderidges.”
While she’s enjoying the time spent with Tim, Tammy Dodderidge also finds other things to value about the program. She’s learning things that she takes straight back into the workplace.
“For me, it's always been a goal of mine to have my M.A.,” she says. “Since I've been in the field a number of years, a lot has changed. The Internet is here, social media, the ways people market and promote have changed. I've learned that along the way, but it sure doesn't hurt to hear from young people about those things."
Tim, meanwhile, figures the degree will give him an extra edge in the jobs marketplace. He’s already networking with other students in his classes.
"Having that M.A. degree will hopefully show people I'm serious, I really care about the profession,” he says. "There's nothing better than a program where you bring your skills from the workplace, go and exchange ideas with people across the city, then take them back to the workplace."
Tidwell says the Dodderidges have turned their pairing “into a strategic advantage.”
“The one thing we say when you earn a master's degree is, ‘You need a support system,’ because our students work all the time,” he says. “In their case, that support structure is really ready-made.”
It’s more than just support: The Dodderidges have also used their student status to enjoy KU basketball together.
"I hadn't been for years and years," Tammy says.
"And you get to sit in the student section with me!" Tim adds.
Currently, Tim is set to finish the program in another year-and-a-half. Tammy expects she’ll need two years, but she’s not worried.
"I'm not thinking about when I'm going to be done,” she says. “I'm just enjoying the process. I really like learning."