Jason Cassidy is the digital marketing manager at Cara Operations, Canada’s largest full-service restaurant company. He was recently named to Marketing Mag’s "30 under 30," but Jason realized the importance of technical skills in marketing and saw the potential to unlock new opportunities at his company. After attending a marketing seminar at Brainstation, Jason decided to take their 10 week Intro to Web Development course. Now approaching the end of the course, Jason chats with us about his experience and why he’s already planning on taking another Brainstation class.
Tell us about your job at Cara.
I’m the Digital Marketing Manager at Cara Operations, Canada’s largest full-service restaurant company. I did an undergraduate degree in journalism and political science and a master’s degree in communications with a thesis on content marketing.
What course are you taking at Brainstation and why?
I’m taking the Intro to Web Development course because I thought Web Development would be a good prerequisite. I specialize in social media marketing and email marketing, so web development seemed like a really crucial pillar. My main goal was to be able to better manage potential developers. The second goal is that I will hopefully open my own digital marketing agency, so having some expertise will help if I ever need to hire developers.
I also think that having these skills will help me develop creative ideas when I start my own business.
Did you have any programming experience before you started at Brainstation?
No; Brainstation gave me a 40-hour Codecademy prep course to complete so I did that 6 months before I actually signed up and learned quite a bit from that.
Since you were working while taking the part-time Brainstation course, was your company supportive?
I was working for a different company when I decided to do the Brainstation course and I actually pitched them to cover the tuition. They didn't see how it would directly apply to my current role, but they were supportive.
What was your pitch to get your employer to cover the course?
My main angle was to invest in growing my marketing skill set. Most companies just don’t know the full possibilities of digital marketing. They still see it as a skill that you tack onto traditional marketing but they’re realizing there’s so much more there.
I also pitched it to my brother who owns his own gym and I offered to build his website if he paid for my course. He didn’t have the capital to invest, but I’m thinking of doing an Intermediate Web Development course; since he’s already seen how far I’ve come in the intro course, I might take a second crack at it!
How did you find out about Brainstation?
Brainstation hosted a social media marketing seminar with Twitter and a couple of other tech firms. I checked out their website and thought it looked cool.
I researched other bootcamps like Bitmaker Labs and Lighthouse Labs. The prices were very similar and the other schools looked very credible but I felt a personal connection to Brainstation after having been there.
Brainstation held a contest to win a free class and I won half off, so I went with Brainstation.
What was the student:teacher ratio in your class?
There are usually 4 instructors for 25 students but only 12 students signed up for my course, therefore they only had 2 instructors. It’s a good ratio.
How often do you meet in person?
Once a week for 3 hours.
Was your class diverse in terms of background and experience?
There is a wide range of people. I was working as a digital marketer, another woman works as a full-time copywriter, there was a Bell technician with no experience at all, and a few people who had some prior experience.
Who was the head instructor for your class?
Rares is the head instructor and Alan facilitates and moderates the class
Did you have assessments or tests in the Brainstation course?
We got a bit of homework at the beginning of the class, but their whole spiel is that there’s no grades or tests- it’s very welcoming.
What technologies did you focus on at Brainstation?
They give us a free membership to Treehouse as part of the course so it was really good to have secondary material. They strongly encourage you to watch these Treehouse videos. So I went home and in the first week consumed about 50 hours’ worth of content.
What types of projects did you work on?
You have a few minor assignments along the way and then halfway through you’re asked to build a website for a coffee shop. I built one for a gym instead, for my brother’s business. It’s a 6-7 page website that will be fully responsive.There’s a final project in the last 2 weeks, which we present to the class.
Even though you weren’t necessarily looking for a new job, how did Brainstation approach job preparation?
Brainstation tried to prepare us to actually start selling our services. So were learning how to do wireframes and how to show those to potential clients. They work with high-potential students on getting jobs. They sent a couple of job postings our way and the class’s way.
Do you think that what you’ve learned will help you at your current job in marketing?
I can now think more in-depth about sites and I’m inspecting everything now and just understanding how they work. I think I’m close to being able to actually save our company a bit of money.
Did you have any feedback for Brainstation and was that feedback taken seriously?
I’ve been pretty open and honest with them. I thought they needed to be a little tougher on students and push everyone to go home and consume every bit of video content and tutorial information- that will make the class better.
Would you take another Brainstation course?
Yeah! I started in this course as a way to round out my skill set. Right now I’m enjoying those new skills and seeing if there can be opportunities to do more courses while still working.