An Unexpected but Perfect Path: John Billups ’22

John Billups ’22 smiling in classroom

Davidson is one of those places where everybody knows your name. That’s part of what drew John Billups ’22 to it. He wanted to experience a lot of variety in a great community, where he wouldn’t be just a number.

“I was a recruited athlete for football at a few schools but ended up not taking that road,” he said. “I really had to think about whether that was something I wanted to do for four more years, and I decided there were so many other things I wanted to do.” 

“So many things” precisely sums up Billups’ time at Davidson. He sang in The Generals a cappella group, developed a passion for filmmaking, balanced a double major in English and Economics and participated in the Chidsey Leadership Program, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the Davidson in Silicon Valley Program and so much more.

Filmmaking became a leading passion, and Billups founded the Davidson Filmmakers group on campus. One documentary he made his junior year, focused on Charleston’s Black tourism industry, has been added to the PBS digital archives.

With no shortage of interests, he still didn’t have clarity around his next steps as graduation was quickly approaching—specifically trying to figure out how he could combine filmmaking and economics. So he connected with the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and, soon, he was in touch with a variety of Davidson alums. One suggested he consider the advertising industry. That one simple suggestion helped provide much-needed structure to Billups’ job search.

“When Dean [Ernest] Jeffries was still working in Student Life at Davidson, he talked a lot about the ‘Davidson Mafia’ and told students to take advantage of the alumni network,” he said. “I’ve since learned how great that advice really was.”

Since graduation, Billups has been working as a media buying resident—that’s code for intern, he says—with VaynerMedia and is moving into a permanent position in just a couple weeks.

“It’s been a fit I didn’t know could be this good,” Billups said. “I’m learning about short-form media, television, media streaming, internet-based advertising. The company advises all employees to create and make things, and that’s part of why it’s such a good place for me to be.”

Billups’ work is fully remote, but he’s planning to start this next phase in New York City. The likely plan is to get an apartment with some Wildcat classmates because, as most know, all roads lead back to Davidson.


  • November 28, 2022