Even with 10 years of communications experience, Deepti realized she needed to learn a new skill set to move up the career ladder. By enrolling in The Digital Marketing Boot Camp at Texas McCombs, Deepti explains how the curriculum helped her fill knowledge gaps and gain a new sense of confidence to go after an Associate Manager role. Deepti answers all of our questions about the Digital Marketing Boot Camp and shares tips for juggling a part-time program with a busy work schedule.
Your background is already in communications and marketing, so what inspired you to enroll in a digital marketing boot camp?
I have around ten years of experience in communications, in the traditional form of PR, corporate communications, and also digital communications. In my most recent job role, I was part of the digital marketing team, with a focus on social media. Even though I was a social media subject matter expert, I felt that there were certain skills within digital marketing — like SEO, Search and Display Ads, and fully utilizing Google Analytics — that I was lacking and that was making me dependent on my coworkers to inform what I was doing at work. I wanted to learn those skills so that I could become more self-sufficient.
Why did you choose The Digital Marketing Boot Camp at Texas McCombs?
I did a preliminary search online and when I saw that this boot camp was offered by UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business that piqued my interest. When I read through what the boot camp was offering, it really spoke to me. The admissions team answered all my questions, and confirmed that they would teach me those exact skills I hoped to learn.
I'm a mom and a full-time working professional, so I needed a short and intensive program that would help me learn those skills without eating too much into my time. The boot camp’s part-time, 18-week time frame seemed absolutely doable for me. I jumped in with both feet and I'm very thankful I did!
What was the boot camp application and interview process like for you?
The application process moved fairly quickly. I had an initial conversation with one of the advisors and she walked me through what to expect and learned what I hoped to gain from the program.
I then did a 30-minute, preliminary online test to assess my digital marketing skills and get an understanding of whether I was a complete novice, amateur, advanced, or somewhere in between. Having experience working in marketing, I was able to answer most of those questions. There were certain things that I did not know, which were the gaps I was hoping to fill with the course, so I gave it my best shot. The aim of the assessment was not to make it so difficult that you couldn't clear the test, but to let them know where you stood from a learning perspective.
Did you have to complete any pre-work?
Since there are only 18 weeks to get through this intensive boot camp, we were assigned pre-work that covered the basics of digital marketing. They sent a very detailed, informative email with steps on how to complete the pre-course work. The pre-work covered how to set up accounts on social media platforms, plus preliminary reading to familiarize ourselves with key terms.
Any tips you can share about paying for tuition?
The boot camp offers an early sign-up discount, which was great because every dollar counts and it dramatically reduced my financial burden. The boot camp also offers payment installments, broken up into three or four installments over 18 weeks.
What was a typical day like in the remote digital marketing boot camp?
Classes were held via Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30pm–9:30pm CT and on Saturdays from 10am–2pm CT. There were 30-minute office hours offered before and after class which gave us an opportunity to ask our instructors and TAs questions.
This is a great time to hone your remote work skills and cast a wider net when applying for jobs. In my experience, most companies have become more comfortable with 100% remote opportunities and have altered their expectations of their employees. That opens up the job market even more, because now you're not restricted by geographical boundaries. Living in Texas, I could now work a job in New York!
Did the teaching style match your learning style?
Absolutely! Our instructors did their best. The fact that they took the initiative to make this available to us in an online format is great. The instructors made the boot camp as collaborative as possible with screen-sharing and Google Drive. We had absolutely no issues, no glitches at all.
Were you able to balance the part-time boot camp with a full-time job?
Since this course is mostly geared to either full-time students or working professionals, the boot camp is considerate of other time commitments. They understand that life happens and you might need to miss a class. Every class is recorded and posted, so if you miss a class you can go back and catch up with the recording.
What did you actually learn about digital marketing in the boot camp?
It was a full soup-to-nuts approach to digital marketing. The curriculum started slow and touched every integral part of digital marketing, including:
We were also given homework assignments that tested our knowledge and pushed us to explore concepts on our own. This digital marketing boot camp is extremely in-depth.
Since you did this boot camp remotely, how did you connect with your cohort and instructors?
Since the boot camp wasn't restricted to students in a particular geographic location, it was more accessible to people who otherwise would not have been able to join the course. We had participants from all over the country calling in every evening. Our cohort and instructors were always accessible to us through a dedicated Slack channel where we could post questions and get answers within a reasonable timeframe. In the virtual classroom, we were encouraged to work on group activities in break-out rooms, which opened up new channels of communication, helped us get to know each better, and become comfortable with each other so we weren’t all strangers by the time we got to our group projects.
Who are the instructors for this boot camp?
The boot camp instructors and TAs were sourced and hired by Trilogy [Education Services, a 2U, Inc. brand]. We benefited from these professionals who were actually in the field and sharing their knowledge. It was such an enriching experience. I cannot recommend our instructor, Daniel Bisset, highly enough. He was so knowledgeable, such a great mentor throughout the whole program. He made the boot camp as immersive and engaging as he could.
The TAs were so knowledgeable and came from such a wide background. One of our TAs uses digital marketing to further her own online business. Another one was a digital marketing professional from the corporate sector who had a completely different outlook. Someone else did digital marketing from a lobbying/political sphere, who offered a completely different angle.
What kinds of group projects did you work on in the boot camp?
There were two group projects: one halfway through the course and the other at the end of the course.
Our first group project was to create a website for a nonprofit of our choosing. We were asked to implement what we'd learned about SEO, content, web design, accessibility, and everything else to build them a website.
Our second group project was to create a marketing plan/loyalty program for a business. We had to use all the skills we'd learned in 18 weeks to develop a holistic digital marketing plan/loyalty program to boost the sales of any business of our choosing.
Our groups were 5–6 people and everyone got to work on their strengths; for example, if someone felt more confident in content, they took that on, or if someone was more confident in building the website, they took that on. Even though we were all talking and reaching a consensus before moving ahead with our tasks, we each had such a huge part to play in our group projects, owning one full aspect from start to finish that was a capstone project in itself.
How did The Digital Marketing Boot Camp at Texas McCombs prepare you for the job hunt?
The boot camp has a robust career services team who did everything they could to help us land our jobs by the end of the boot camp. It was really up to the individuals to make the most of the career services they offer.
From the beginning, the career services team encouraged us to connect with each other on LinkedIn, which helped grow our networks exponentially. Our Success Manager, Brett Payne, said he would act as a point of contact and reference. Career services hosted information sessions on Zoom on career-readiness topics, such as resume building and job search tips. There were milestones where we had to submit content, such as our resumes, at various times throughout the boot camp. They would offer feedback and then we would work on it and send it back for reviews. Every few weeks they would have a different milestone to talk about regarding our job search.
Since graduating, has the career services team continued to help you in your job search?
I frequently get emails from the career services team checking in on how things are going for me. On top of that, we have lifetime access to the course materials, so we can utilize any of the projects or homework assignments as examples of our work in job applications.
Has this boot camp helped you level up in your marketing career?
I was a Senior Associate in my last role, so my next step up is a managerial role, such as an Associate Manager. I have the knowledge now to speak confidently on those job responsibilities and I am able to apply to one rung above where I was before.
Digital marketing is not an end-all, be-all. The more you do, the more you learn. This boot camp offers the foundational theoretical knowledge to practice on the job and continue learning. If you are willing to get your foot in the door and take up a job that helps you learn those skills until you become more confident, go for it. It may not be a managerial role right out the gate, but if you are willing to work toward it, you’ll surely see exponential growth.
What do you wish you knew before enrolling in The Digital Marketing Boot Camp at Texas McCombs?
The biggest thing I wish I knew before I started the boot camp is not to underestimate the amount of time required. On paper, it's ten hours a week, but there’s also homework assignments and projects, which on top of having a full-time job and a family, can get overwhelming. So, be prepared to put in the effort. You are working toward a certification, so you want to make sure you earn it. Keep in mind that it's only 18 weeks. The days are long but the weeks fly by! If you are willing to put in the time, this boot camp is definitely rewarding.
Would you recommend this boot camp to other marketers looking to upskill?
I would absolutely recommend this boot camp, even for non-digital marketing folks. Several classmates of mine who did not come from digital marketing backgrounds were able to land jobs by the end of the course and are now working full-time in digital marketing. One of my classmates came from a professional dancing background, but is now working in digital marketing. This program teaches the core elements of digital marketing so you can successfully make that transition into the field and land a job. It really doesn't matter whether you come from a marketing background or not. If you want to learn the skills, I cannot recommend this boot camp highly enough.
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