Campus News

For Graduating Senior, Path to Google Went Through UK

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Kymberley Johnson poses by a Google logo
Kymberley Johnson poses in front of the Gatton Student Center in cap and gown
Kymberley Johnson poses in front of her poster at Google

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2020) — University of Kentucky senior Kymberley Johnson capitalized on every opportunity she received during her four years as a college student. Her initiative and drive served her well as she will soon graduate and head to her job at Google in Colorado. 

Originally from Memphis, Johnson’s family moved to Union in Boone County when she was in high school. Her interest in fashion design and the fashion industry led her to UK’s Department of Retailing and Tourism Management

“The Department of Retailing and Tourism Management gave me so many opportunities, from seeing the fashion industry firsthand in places like New York City, Atlanta and Italy to teaching me about the science behind merchandising and the importance of timing in marketing a product,” said Johnson, a student in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

At UK, the merchandising, apparel and textiles major grew passionate about the business side of the fashion industry and credits department faculty Mika PryorScarlett Wesley and Vanessa Jackson with giving her the tools and motivation she needed to succeed in the industry.

Her work ethic caught the attention of her professors, who encouraged her to seek out opportunities to further her education and career.

“I love her enthusiasm for whatever she is doing,” said Wesley, associate professor and Johnson’s advisor. “With anything she tackles, she always gives 110% effort.”

Before her path led to Google, she interned with the UK Cooperative Extension Service during the summers before her sophomore and junior years. She credits those internships with helping her strengthen her communication skills, so she could be competitive in the job market.

“Those were some of my most fun summers,” Johnson said of her internships at the Kenton and Fayette Extension offices. “I learned so many soft skills that helped me get my Google internship and now my job, like how to effectively communicate with many different groups of people that I didn’t know beforehand. I learned how to answer interview questions in a way that showed my skills and my personality, and I learned a lot about creativity.”

It was through the Management Leadership for Tomorrow program that she connected her education and experience with her future career. She was one of nine UK students accepted into the national program that strives to empower a new generation of diverse leaders. Through this program, she gained exposure at Fortune 500 companies including Google.

She was selected to intern with the technology company during the summer of 2019 as part of their Build Opportunities for Leadership and Development Internship Program. While at Google’s office in Boulder, Colorado, Johnson worked in Global Customer Care, helping marketing companies and small businesses that advertise with Google optimize their experience. 

“I worked with clients to make sure their ads showed up at the right time and the right place and helped them find marketing tools that worked for them,” she said.

A month after her internship ended, Johnson was offered a full-time position with the company as an advertising specialist. She starts in July.

“Kymberley has always been a model student in our program who strived for the best,” said Jackson, who is the chair of the department. “We are so proud of her success at Google.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.