In 2020, Alyssa took the COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity to pivot her career from kinesiology to digital marketing. After several recommendations from folks in her network, she enrolled in BrainStation’s remote Digital Marketing Bootcamp. Alyssa shares how the online bootcamp provided her with professional-level knowledge to launch her new career, and how BrainStation helped her leverage her previous work experiences on her resume, build a network, and ultimately land a Social Campaign Manager position with Reprise Digital.
Alyssa, what inspired you to pivot into digital marketing?
I graduated university with a Kinesiology degree. At the time, I was working part-time as a receptionist for a physiotherapy company, where I was doing guest experience coordinating, managing therapists’ schedules, and working with the ins and outs of the clinic. After transitioning into full-time work at the clinic, I realized that I didn't want to pursue physiotherapy anymore. I received a promotion to work in the head office, and there I did project coordinating before being promoted again to a project management role. When COVID hit, working from home during the pandemic was the push that I needed to reevaluate my career. 2020 made me slow down and think about what I wanted to do next, which is what led me to digital marketing.
There are so many digital skills bootcamps now — why did you choose BrainStation?
I honestly didn't look into many other schools because BrainStation is a well-known bootcamp and I was sold right away. I knew a few people who had taken the part-time courses and my brother took the UX Design course – they all had great things to say about BrainStation. My brother knew some people in the Digital Marketing course, so I spoke with them and everyone raved about the digital marketing bootcamp, the way it’s structured, and the instructors.
What was the BrainStation application and interview process like for you?
The Learning Advisors are really great at BrainStation because as soon as you show that you're interested, they set up a call to answer any questions and address any hesitations that you have. I was a bit hesitant at first to leave my job and pursue this bootcamp because it’s a full-time program — you can't really work on the side. Having those conversations with the BrainStation team really helped.
During the actual application, there’s a questionnaire followed by an interview. In the interview, there were questions like, “Why do you want to pursue digital marketing?”, “Why did you choose BrainStation?”, “Why do you think that you would be a great fit for the course?” Once you pass the interview stage, you complete a project where they give you a scenario and you come up with a digital marketing strategy. The admissions team evaluates your project to gauge if you're ready to take the bootcamp. They want to make sure that you know enough about digital marketing to get the most out of the program.
Did you receive any scholarships from BrainStation?
I received a Women in Technology Scholarship.
What was a typical day like in BrainStation’s online Digital Marketing Bootcamp?
We log on in the morning and have a kickoff with the instructors where we discuss digital marketing topics, such as trends in the industry or topics we covered in lecture. Then we had a morning lecture, followed by a break. There were two lectures per day. During every unit, we were put into a different group of students, and we got to discuss and work on projects together. There was open studio time where we could meet with classmates, educators, or TAs to gain insight on projects or review topics we covered in class.
Since you did this bootcamp remotely, how did you connect with your cohort and instructors?
This online bootcamp exceeded my expectations! Initially, I wanted an in-person learning experience because I was worried that I wouldn’t make friends or connections with my instructors in an online bootcamp. But I found that in the online bootcamp, I was still able to make connections with my cohort and instructors because you are online nearly the full day. The instructors were so supportive and always open to having conversations about the industry, which helped me prepare for the workforce.
In the bootcamp, there was a mix of collaboration and independence. Everyone in my cohort was supportive and open-minded to helping each other. I left BrainStation with a handful of solid relationships that I still maintain today. We have weekly or monthly calls to catch up, see how everyone's doing, and share work stories.
That said, I do believe that it's up to you to put yourself out there in this virtual setting. In an online bootcamp, you have to reach out a little bit more. In person, you're seeing everyone every second of the day, and you're able to just nudge them on the shoulder. It's a little different online. BrainStation does foster that connection by creating smaller pods and hosting trivia nights, but ultimately it’s up to you to make the relationships.
What did you actually learn about digital marketing in the bootcamp curriculum?
The first unit touched on the basics of digital marketing. Unit two focused on content marketing, and we learned how to create a content marketing strategy and what kind of content works for certain marketing objectives. Unit three covered social media marketing, where we learned about all the different platforms, including which platforms are best suited to reach certain audiences. Unit three covered search marketing, and we learned all about SEO and paid search marketing. The last unit was about analytics. We learned how to measure and optimize campaigns.
The project-based nature of the bootcamp lets you immerse yourself in the content, be creative, and come up with your own strategies. It helped students with what we learned in class. Within each unit there was a corresponding project. We had about two weeks to work on each project, and sometimes this was followed by presentations, too.
Did BrainStation host a virtual Demo Day for your cohort?
A couple weeks after the bootcamp ended, BrainStation hosted a Demo Day where we presented our capstones, which was a project that we worked on from day one of the bootcamp. At the time, our capstone was about creating our own brand along with a digital marketing strategy for the brand. We presented it on Demo Day to hiring partners and other students.
How did BrainStation prepare you for the job hunt?
Throughout the 12-week bootcamp, you get to meet with your career coaches. They give LinkedIn workshops to help students tell their story because a lot of us were transitioning our careers. They offer a two-hour workshop with all of the students every week.
During the last week of the course, the careers team really prepares you to enter the job force. We had a full week of workshops, learning how to write a resume, perfect our LinkedIn profiles, prepare for interviews, and more. They would put us into breakout rooms to talk to other students and do mock interviews. I found it really helpful.
Utilizing your network is important when you’re looking for a job, especially when starting out in a new industry. BrainStation is a global network of professionals, and graduating from BrainStation means you are part of this network.
After graduating, you were a Teaching Assistant at BrainStation — What were the benefits of teaching right after bootcamp?
I find that sometimes with these career transitions, because you’re looking to shift your direction in such a short amount of time, it’s easy to feel a bit of imposter syndrome. Being a TA helped me trust that I understand the material because I'm able to support other students. As a TA, I was able to continue expanding my network as well. I made relationships with my students and instructors. I also had the opportunity to teach some lectures, and run tutorials and labs. Being a TA helped me solidify my learning.
Congrats on your new job as a Social Campaign Manager at Reprise Digital! How did BrainStation prepare you for landing this job?
I felt prepared for the online interview process at Reprise because I was online for nearly eight hours a day at BrainStation. The bootcamp got me used to working and making relationships virtually. In that way, I felt okay doing a virtual interview, and it went really well.
What team and projects are you currently working on?
At Reprise, my team is composed of campaign managers, an associate director, and an account manager. Together, we work on digital marketing, social media, and search campaigns for clients.
BrainStation really prepares you to go into a job and understand the high-level picture of what you're doing. BrainStation taught me much of the strategy and rationale for choosing strategies. Now, being in my manager role, I'm learning more of the executional processes, like working in Facebook or Google apps.
For those readers weighing self-teaching versus digital marketing bootcamp – was BrainStation worth it for you?
BrainStation was definitely worth it for me — it was that bridge between me transitioning my career into something that I'm super passionate about. Prior to BrainStation, I tried to do LinkedIn Learning or Udemy courses on digital marketing, but it just wasn’t the same as being in a class. When you actually have educators there to support you and other people who are going through the same course at the same time, it’s much easier to achieve your goal of learning digital marketing. It was helpful to have projects, receive marks for those projects, and get feedback. It's very different from doing self-guided learning.
How have you leveraged your past career in health sciences to help you pivot into digital marketing?
Although I’m not necessarily using my kinesiology education, I’m definitely using the skills of staying organized and on track. I am able to transfer my problem-solving skills. Since my previous job was a startup, it included a lot of project management. Working in that fast-paced environment, having to learn quickly and be on my toes, and being thrown into work has been really helpful in my new career in digital marketing.
What has been the biggest challenge in this journey to becoming a digital marketer?
Transitioning your career is not easy. It’s definitely difficult to leave something that’s comfortable and go into the unknown without knowing what to expect on the other side. I think that just being confident in the skills that you’ve brought from every work or educational experience is crucial. Remember that you have those skills and be confident.
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