BrainStation has been teaching digital marketing classes for years and recently launched an intensive, career-changing Digital Marketing Diploma program. Julia Osmar, the VP of Education Experience at BrainStation, tells us all about the new Digital Marketing Diploma – including who should apply (and who the diploma course is not right for), the admissions and interview process, and what the new Digital Marketing Diploma will cover.
So what is your role at BrainStation, Julia?
I am the VP of Education Experience, which means I’m responsible for delivering learning experiences – including programs, courses, workshops, panels, and more – across all our global locations.
BrainStation has been teaching the Digital Marketing certificate for a while – why did you decide to launch a Diploma Program? Were students asking for more?
We have a number of certificate courses that fall under the “Digital Marketing” umbrella, including Digital Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, and Social Media Marketing and demand for these courses has been overwhelming, both online and at our campuses. That coupled with the increasing demand for marketing skills and talent made it clear that now was a good time to be expanding our diploma program offering and adding a Digital Marketing Diploma.
Why is digital marketing a worthwhile skill? What’s the job market like for digital marketers these days?
Digital ad spend has surpassed traditional advertising spending for the first time last year, and according to some reports, over 70 percent of all companies are now actively looking to hire marketers. All this to say that the demand for digital marketing skills has never been higher and with the continued growth of social channels and the use of big data, the ability to make data-driven, channel-specific decisions is fundamental.
What can applicants expect from the admissions process? Is there a Brainstation interview to get in?
The admissions process, like our other programs, includes a personal statement, a live video interview and the completion of a technical challenge. The technical challenge asks candidates to creatively solve a marketing challenge by developing a strategy for a specific case.
Would you recommend taking a pre-course before this Diploma Program? What would you suggest?
There is no mandatory prerequisite for the program, although a foundational understanding of marketing is an asset.
I should note that BrainStation's full-time diploma programs are challenging, intensive learning experiences. To ensure the success of our students, we only select committed individuals who we feel will thrive in a fast-paced, collaborative learning environment. And to that end, we do ask for a submission of education credentials as part of the application process, and a college diploma or bachelor’s degree is required to qualify for the program.
What should students expect with this new curriculum?
The Digital Marketing Diploma Program goes into much greater detail than our certificate course, as it is meant to completely transform your skillset and prepare you for a new career.
Our curriculum for the digital marketing diploma program provides students with hands-on experience, and a comprehensive understanding of digital marketing strategies, concepts, and techniques, including:
How often does the team update or iterate the curriculum and what is the process for that? What trends have you seen in Digital Marketing?
Data is playing an increasingly important role in the marketing decision-making process, as marketers and brands can now measure the performance of campaigns to a degree that just wasn’t possible in the past. This will only increase with time and help brands make more impactful content. The trend is now for content to be values-based (in that it says something about the company’s greater ethos), with campaigns that tell a relatable story. This means that marketers have to be able to think like storytellers, all while relying on sound data.
In terms of updating the curriculum, the advantage BrainStation has is that we work directly with an elite group of industry leaders to create and update content. This means that as changes happen (and social media platforms are frequently changing algorithms), we can update content and ensure that students are getting what they need to know.
We realized early on that to be of value to working professionals, courses need to be as current as possible. To achieve that, we adopted an adaptive approach to course development, with curriculum updated on a daily basis, in real-time.
We’re constantly benchmarking our curriculum against what’s happening in the field, and then using our data to figure out what skills are most in-demand, now and tomorrow.
Who are the instructors at Brainstation’s Digital Marketing Diploma?
We put an emphasis on low Educator-student ratios, which typically means that students can expect to be in a class of about 30-35, with two Educators and anywhere from two to three Teaching Assistants on hand to assist and offer direct feedback.
BrainStation’s Instructors are always industry professionals and are among the best of the best in their field – You can expect to see subject matter experts from digital-first brands such as Google, Amazon, Shopify, and Facebook in our classrooms.
We use an extensive, immersive interviewing process and unique scoring system that ensures our instructors are not only experts but also people that will excel at teaching. The process is relatively lengthy, but it’s important for us to be thorough, and to ensure that our students are always learning from the best.
We always start by looking for leaders in the industry, from the top, forward-thinking and innovative companies in the world. BrainStation’s Lead Educators typically also have 10 years of related industry experience, with a track record of mentorship and/or giving back to the industry.
Once we’ve found a professional that really stands out, we have an interview about their most successful career accomplishments, and why they want to mentor the future wave of talent. We’ll then issue an Educator Challenge, which involves delivering a simulated lecture to assess their presentation style and the ability to break down complex topics into easy-to-understand concepts. This is to assess if they can command the classroom, be engaging, and break down complex technical topics into easy-to-understand lessons
Tell us about the ideal students for the Digital Marketing Diploma. Are you looking for someone with experience, a certain background, a certain culture fit?
We aren’t necessarily looking for a certain background, but we do tend to admit professionals that have already achieved a fair amount in their lives and careers. I think it may have to do with the topics we teach, which attracts very ambitious people who can see that this is where the future of work is going.
It’s not unusual for a senior professional with an MBA to be in one of our diploma programs. In fact, as of today, over 20 percent of students entering our programs having already earned a Masters or Ph.D. and the average age is 35 so they have plenty of real-world work experience under their belts. At some point in their career, they’ve seen that the future is in data, or design, or development, and they’ve chosen to make a change. That kind of forward-thinking is really representative of our culture, and I would say the students that excel in our programs tend to be very driven and passionate.
What is the teaching style – is it project-based or lecture-based?
All of our diploma programs are project-based and heavily collaborative. The programs have been designed to prepare students for what they will encounter in the workforce.
BrainStation’s focus is on outcomes-based learning. That comes from constant interaction and collaboration with industry experts, hiring managers, labor economic data, and more. We have hundreds of expert practitioners contributing to our content on a day-to-day basis.
What kinds of projects will students build for their portfolio? Give us an example of a Digital Marketing Project!
Students will complete industry-relevant projects that allow them to work through an end-to-end marketing campaign. They will also work on focused projects in areas such as content marketing, social media marketing, and performance marketing. Students will develop decision-making skills and specific technical skills using tools like Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram ads, and more.
How will career services work for the Digital Marketing Diploma?
Our Career Success Program is a key component of the BrainStation learning experience, providing students with guidance and support throughout their career transformation.
Beginning with the admissions process, the program extends beyond graduation, providing a framework for success built on insights and input from technical recruiters, career coaches, BrainStation Educators, and alumni.
This includes providing industry networking opportunities, and help with resumes and job applications, personal branding and interviewing preparation, as well as ongoing career development.
It seems like there are a lot of specialized roles in digital marketing – what kinds of jobs will graduates be prepared for?
The program is extremely comprehensive and can prepare professionals for a wide range of career opportunities in search engine marketing, demand generation, email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing, to name but a few.
Is there a type of person who shouldn’t take this course? Who is the course not for?
Our diploma programs are extremely intensive – we cover a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time, which means we are typically only admitting those who are most committed to taking this step and who we think will thrive in a very challenging, fast-paced learning environment.
What is your advice for students embarking on a digital marketing program? Any tips for getting the most out of it especially if they are trying to change their careers?
Our programs are developed to give students as much of an opportunity as possible to gain first-hand experience with tools, techniques, and concepts. My advice for students is to really take advantage of those opportunities. Get your hands dirty to master as many skills as you can. Digital marketing is increasingly multi-channel, which means that professionals with a wide array of skills and experience will be the ones to take advantage of the opportunities opening up.