University student John Castaneto is wrapping up a degree in business management, but wanted real-world experience so he can quickly launch a career in digital marketing. The part-time, online Digital Marketing bootcamp at Jelly Academy offered John the real world application and instructional support he needed to understand and integrate his new digital skills. John shares how he was able to land a full-time digital marketing role after graduating Jelly Academy!
You have a business management degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and are in the midst of getting a marketing management degree — what inspired you to enroll at a digital marketing bootcamp this year?
Marketing and business has always been a passion of mine. My dad is an entrepreneur who founded a retail clothing store specializing in urban streetwear, and when I was a kid, my sisters and I would also help him sell apparel at the local flea market on weekends. I grew up in the family business, and that’s what made me want to pursue being in business as well, following in my dad’s footsteps. Plus, I’ve always been in awe of how brands are able to represent more than just the products/services that they sell. For example, Nike has created a brand that people from all over the world can resonate with. They are a sports apparel company that is also a movement, a symbol of diversity, self-empowerment, and so much more. Without marketing and PR, none of that would be possible for a brand! My career goals are to be a part of, or lead, a team that is able to build a brand from nothing into something, and if I’m lucky enough, as big as Nike!
The marketing industry has been trending towards the digital space for some time now, and this has only accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional marketing methods still have validity, but digital marketing is the future. Considering the amount of usership and data that big tech companies have at their disposal, as a marketer it only makes sense that you would want to utilize this information to the best of your ability. This is the one of the main reasons why I decided to enroll in Jelly Academy. I felt that my current program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University lacked the digital marketing focus that the field is inevitably heading towards. Instead of waiting for the opportunity to learn these skills in the future, I decided to be proactive and learn these skills now.
Since there are so many online digital marketing bootcamps now, why did you choose Jelly Academy?
When I began looking for a way to increase my digital marketing knowledge and skills, I started to network with others in the marketing community and Jelly Marketing and Jelly Academy were brought up on multiple occasions. I also wanted to enroll at Jelly Academy to differentiate myself from my peers when applying for internships. Getting practical digital marketing experience was at the top of my priority list when I was looking for bootcamps. As I am in the last year of my degree, I was worried that it would be difficult for me to find a job after college graduation without real world experience. Little did I know that after graduating from Jelly Academy, I would be offered a full-time marketing role!
What was the Jelly Academy application process like for you?
The application process for Jelly Academy was seamless. It was super easy to navigate, and even post-application, your account manager is there with you every step of the way.
Did Jelly Academy have you complete pre-work before the first official day of the bootcamp?
Prior to the first lecture, Jelly Academy encouraged students to do prior readings on the topic that was going to be covered during that class. The pre-work was optional, but we had a lot of material to cover within the 6-week course. For me, it was imperative to be “on the ball” when it came to readings and assignments. I was determined to get the most out of my time with Jelly Academy.
How did you fund your bootcamp tuition?
I paid the Jelly Academy tuition using my personal savings. My mindset at the time was, “You will never regret investing in yourself” and never at any point in the 6-week course did I regret my decision. Jelly Academy offers a BIPOC scholarship and a separate online contest which was run by a partner of Jelly Marketing. I was not awarded either scholarship, but after reaching out to Jelly and expressing my enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, they awarded me a discount code which I applied to my tuition.
Jelly Academy is an online bootcamp — What was a typical day or a typical week like in their online classroom?
Jelly Academy consisted of a weekly, three-hour class. Typically, the course administrator, who in my case was Chris, would communicate all the important information to me via email. In the email, Chis would provide me with suggested readings prior to the class. After class, Chris would follow up with me with suggested readings and additional resources, which would lead up to the assigned certification tests. These tests would focus on the digital marketing platforms that were the focus of that week.
At the same time as taking Jelly Academy, I was also enrolled in online classes at KPU, so I was fairly used to the online learning environment. I enjoy the flexibility that an online classroom provides.
Did the online teaching style at Jelly Academy match your learning style?
Jelly Academy was mainly lecture-based. I loved how the lectures at Jelly Academy were recorded so that I could refer back to them. Projects aren’t within the curriculum, and instead I was assigned homework in the form of readings and learning tutorials. The Jelly Academy team was extremely supportive and answered any questions I had in a timely manner.
What did the Jelly Academy bootcamp curriculum cover?
Jelly Academy has structured the curriculum so that students, regardless of their previous knowledge or background, can be brought up to speed efficiently, effectively, and in a timely manner. Jelly Academy was able to cover a lot of material during the 6 weeks, such as topics relating to social media, PR, paid ads, SEO, Google Analytics, and other Google certifications. My favourite tutorial in the curriculum focused on paid ads because it filled in a lot of knowledge gaps for me.
Jelly Academy also offers a masterclass series where they cover even more topics related to the Digital Marketing industry. For example, in one of the series, they cover how to build a Squarespace website. I enrolled myself in that course as well.
What is the online community like at Jelly Academy?
Jelly Academy has built an extremely positive learning environment. Although online, I was able to foster amazing connections with the instructors. I believe that as long as you ask questions, and put your best foot forward, everyone is super welcoming.
How did Jelly Academy prepare you for the job hunt?
Jelly Academy gave me the confidence to believe in myself and my abilities. With Jelly Academy, I now have a credible source that I can refer to in my portfolio or during job interviews. At Jelly Academy, I had many opportunities to meet new people in the industry who I can reach out to for guidance.
Which roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from Jelly Academy?
After Jelly Academy, I felt qualified to not only cover roles relating to social media, paid ads, and public relations, but because of the different topics that were covered in the course, I also felt confident in planning the overarching digital strategy of a company. Jelly Academy helped me form a solid foundation in which I can build my skills further over time.
You’re now working as a Digital Marketing Specialist for Senior Mortgage Broker, Adam Coultish. How did you land this job?
With the connections I made through Jelly Academy, I was able to land this marketing role prior to completing my post-secondary college degree!
What was the interview process like for this job?
Being my first marketing-related job interview, the interview was nerve-racking. Darian from Jelly Academy assured me that this role encompassed everything I learned at the bootcamp, which gave me some peace of mind. With the prior knowledge provided by my post-secondary classes, I became confident that regardless of what obstacles were thrown at me, I would find a way to overcome them. When asked questions regarding my marketing experience, I mainly outlined what I’ve done in school and my new knowledge I learned through Jelly Academy.
As a digital marketing specialist, what kinds of projects are you currently working on?
Currently, my primary focus at the brokerage is optimizing the company’s digital footprint. As the brokerage is fairly new, much of the digital marketing infrastructure has not been established. It’s been a lot of work to ensure that the business is set up for success. I am working on building the company’s social media presence by conceptualizing the social media strategy, creating graphic content, and running/managing paid ads.
Are you using all of the tools and languages that you learned at Jelly Academy?
Being a Marketing Management Student, a lot of the terminology and tools were known to me but I lacked solid context. After taking Jelly Academy, I can confidently say that these tools and terms are not only familiar to me, but I have a greater understanding of how they are used and how they are all interconnected.
What has been the biggest challenge in this career change journey so far?
One of the biggest challenges is the amount of creative freedom and responsibility I have in my new role. At B.C. Liquor, systems were already in place, but in my new role, I am responsible for creating systems. It can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, but I persevere.
Is your experience at Jelly Academy also helping you with your marketing management studies?
Yes, absolutely! One of my main takeaways from Jelly Academy is the understanding and perspective of how all digital marketing processes are interconnected and instrumental in achieving a company’s success. This coupled with the prior marketing theories I learned in college has given me a much deeper understanding of the industry and its function in an organization as a whole.
Looking back on this experience, was enrolling at Jelly Academy worth it for you?
Without a doubt, Jelly Academy was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have gone from stocking shelves and working late at B.C. Liquor to having my own office space and working no later than 5:30 pm for my new digital marketing role. Being offered a full-time digital marketing job prior to graduating from college has also made it possible for me to help my parents with mortgage payments. I am going on four months now in my new marketing role, and I still cannot believe I’m here. I make sure to not take any of this for granted, and I have Jelly Academy to thank for all of this.
Is there anything you wish you had known before day one of the bootcamp?
One thing I wish I knew before enrolling at Jelly Academy was the amount of reading required for the modules relating to SEO concepts. The material was extremely insightful and complemented my post-secondary studies, but it took more time to get through.
A piece of advice I have for future Jelly Academy students is this: “Work hard, be optimistic, and always put your best foot forward. You will never regret investing in yourself.”
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