Amy discovered her passion for marketing through non-profits, and decided she needed to formalize her skillset with a digital marketing bootcamp to take her career to the next level. She chose Springboard’s remote Digital Marketing Career Track because of its flexibility while she worked full-time and the opportunity to get additional certifications in topics like AdWords. Amy chatted with us about the value of having a mentor during the bootcamp, a neat partnership with Google Ad Grants that let her put her skills to use, and how her career has changed!
What were you up to before attending Springboard?
I’ve had quite a varied background working primarily in education and non-profits. I did my undergrad at UC Davis in economics and international relations and after graduation, pursued my master’s in public policy at USC and then worked for a number of non-profits.
In the social service space, I noticed was there was a lot of talent and good intentions, but a lack of communicating. I was frustrated seeing a lot of work but no results – this is where my interest in marketing arose. It’s not simply about having a great message, but also communicating it at the right time to the right people using the right medium.
As a college admissions advisor, I created workshops and content for high school students. But I needed a more formal marketing education, which led me to Springboard’s Digital Marketing Career Track.
Since you had some prior marketing experience, why did you need a digital marketing bootcamp?
My marketing background was developed in informal startup settings working from the ground-up and I didn’t understand the theories or the bigger picture. I had taken courses through Udacity and Coursera, and found those helpful to upskill in very specific areas like a question about Facebook marketing. But the self-taught courses just weren’t as in-depth and comprehensive as I needed and there were enough gaps in my knowledge that justified taking a bootcamp.
I knew I was missing some critical skillsets, especially in the digital space. I had no idea how to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is a huge component of digital marketing, I didn’t know anything about strategy and landing pages, and most importantly, I didn’t know how the pieces fit together. I saw a bootcamp as being instrumental in getting me to the next level.
As you researched digital marketing bootcamps, what stood out to you about Springboard?
Because of my work commitments, I knew I had to do an online bootcamp – there was no way I could do an in-person course. I looked into General Assembly’s online option. I also looked at the number of certifications I could receive through the curriculum, and that preparation was baked into the Springboard curriculum. With a little additional outside work, you could get the certifications in Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Facebook.
I think the human touch is so important in learning – that’s what drew me to Springboard. I could see that I wouldn’t just sit down by myself and learn on my own; there was someone rooting for me and giving me that expert knowledge every step of the way. Whether it’s a bootcamp mentor or a good friend, having that human touch is critical.
When weighing everything, I used Course Report and other online resources along with my mentor (who works as a Springboard coach) and I decided Springboard was the right bootcamp for me.
What was the application process for Springboard? Was it easy to get in?
I appreciated that Springboard had an application process – they weren’t looking to just get bodies in the door, they wanted to make sure you succeeded. I had to do an hour-long assessment that showed I had basic knowledge of math, experience working with data, and fairly decent judgement, and then I submitted an essay.
What was the online classroom experience like at Springboard?
The time commitment varied from week to week, but I usually spent between 5-6 hours per week on coursework and the entire course took me just under 6 months. I was part of a cohort, but communicating with them was the one area with Springboard I found a bit challenging – the only place we could interact was through a message board and it wasn’t mandatory to use. But a real advantage with Springboard was the mentor I worked with every week and a career coach I chose to meet with every three weeks.
How was Springboard different from online resources you had tried like Coursera or Udemy?
One huge value-add at Springboard was the assignments – every unit had assignments to submit which were then reviewed by your mentor. There’s no way I could have had that thoughtful level of work experience or that kind of feedback with an online course like Coursera.
Could you give us an example – what was an assignment you worked on at Springboard?
I really enjoyed my capstone project! Springboard connected me to the Google online marketing challenge which gives non-profits a monthly budget of $10,000 for Google AdWords and pairs marketing students with non-profits to execute a digital marketing strategy. I was paired with an animal welfare non-profit and gave them a number of pointers on how they could increase their donations. I was writing the paid search ads, doing the keyword research, and monitoring results. It was a great opportunity.
Who was your mentor?
My mentor, Jonathan, worked full-time in marketing, ran an agency, and worked with a number of big brands like StubHub. I believe that Springboard mentors must have five years of marketing experience before becoming a mentor.
You mentioned a few areas that you were hoping to strengthen at Springboard – did you find that Springboard adequately filled the gaps in your skill sets?
Definitely! Towards the end of Springboard, I did a number of interviews for marketing positions and I felt I was able to speak the lingo. I had understood the concepts before but didn’t have the correct words to express myself or the big picture vision. I wouldn’t consider myself an SEO expert but Springboard laid the foundation for me to take my career up another level.
How did you prepare for the job hunt and how did Springboard assist?
I had to send out my resume and update my LinkedIn to reflect my marketing experience. Springboard and my career coach were great at helping me rework my resume and LinkedIn, and gave me some pointers that helped me get my interviews.
Tell us about your career change!
Currently, I’m working with an educational technology non-profit whose mission is to help first generation, low-income, and historically underrepresented students graduate from college using a virtual coaching platform and the power of data.
I was approached by this company towards the end of Springboard and two weeks after interviewing I was working for them! I manage a team of five – I’m currently doing more content strategy, thinking about our users needs, and thinking about how and when we deliver the content. We had a whole unit on Content Marketing at Springboard so I’m able to use those skills in this role.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in building your marketing skillset?
One of the biggest barriers was my own vision for what I thought was possible for myself. I was really concerned with where my career was, and while I had SOME hopes when signing up for Springboard, I was still a bit skeptical about the impact it could have. By doing each assignment and having a mentor, the course really helped me see what I was capable of. That was the number one thing that would have held me back – I didn’t know if I was capable of being a digital marketer! I was able to take on these skills in bite-sized chunks and was able to see my own potential.
How did you balance your full-time job and a bootcamp?
One important aspect was forcing myself to keep a consistent schedule and at times forcing myself to do work whenever I could. I actually had Mondays off so I was able to designate my Mondays to Springboard. Forcing myself to be consistent with the program and not letting myself take weeks off was critical to completing the program.
Have you stayed involved at Springboard at all?
Springboard is building their alumni community, so I got to attend an alumni event recently. Every member of Springboard has gone above and beyond. Catherina Leopold went above and beyond to answer any questions I had. Jeff Roberts, who helped design the curriculum, volunteered to jump on a call with my Google non-profit to help resolve an issue. I’ve been very impressed by how dedicated the Springboard team is to student success.
Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!
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