Back in March, I questioned my choice of career.
It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying my current job. Quite the contrary – I absolutely love being a freelancer. It’s the only job I’ve ever had that I’m actually excited to do every day.
But alas, freelancing was not bringing in much money.
As a creative person, it’s hard to put a dollar value on your skills. Photographers, Writers, and Graphic Designers all struggle to get paid what they’re worth. There’s so much competition for creative jobs that people just aren’t willing to fork out much for those services.
So, I decided to re-evaluate my skill set. I listed out everything I was somewhat good at, and to my surprise, I realised that 2 years of blogging has given me a fair amount of expertise in social media management and content marketing. I could definitely freelance those skills!
There was just one problem – I couldn’t just say “Hey, I’m a Digital Marketer now! Hire me!”. I’d only ever used those skills for my personal blog, and never for a business. I needed a way to build on my knowledge and show potential clients/employers that I had the ability to help them.
To fix this, I started a 10 week part-time Digital Marketing course at General Assembly in NYC. This week I had my last lesson, and just received my certificate of completion.
A few people have asked me about the Digital Marketing course, so I’d like to share my experience in the hopes that it might help some of you decide whether General Assembly is the right path for you to take.
What’s the course about?
I took this Digital Marketing course, which was held on campus in New York City. Classes were held two evenings per week, and we were also given about 4 hours of homework per week. Some of the subjects we covered were:
- Brand strategy
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- Google Analytics
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Facebook Advertising
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
- UX (User Experience)
- Mobile Marketing
- A/B testing
- Referrals and Winbacks
The course actually changes slightly every time it’s taught, because the world of Digital Marketing is constantly developing. I think this is very valuable, because it means that I’ve now been given the most up-to-date and relevant skills.
I felt like a got a decent overview of how to be a Digital Marketer without going too deep into any one subject. Some of my classmates wanted to specialise in different areas, so this allowed us to go forth and learn more about the part of the course that we liked best.
how difficult was it?
The lessons were made up of presentations and group activities. I found some lessons easier than others depending on the subject – the lessons on Google Analytics and Adwords were the hardest for me!
The course required us to complete a ‘final project’ which meant selecting a real-life company to work with, and completing a campaign for them. I chose to do an email marketing campaign for a local small business that does key exchanges and package acceptance for nearby residents.
The course is intense as it compacts a lot of information into 10 weeks. As a freelancer, I was able to put aside time to complete the homework assignments and lessons, but I imagine that for someone taking the course on top of a full-time job, it would be a big commitment of time.
If you take the course, be prepared to that your evenings and weekends will be partially tied up for 10 weeks!
What were the teachers like?
I actually did some online research before I took the course, and found some opinions that having a good teacher (or ‘instructor’ as they’re referred to at GA) makes a big difference. I checked out the course page on the General Assembly website which said that the instructor was a woman named Kimberly.
Well, it was a bit of a surprise to find out in my first class that my instructor was named Jon and he was not listed on the website at all. I was a little worried as I’d based some of my decision on the instructor, but luckily Jon knew what he was doing, and I found him to be very competent in both teaching and Digital Marketing knowledge.
We also had 2 teaching assistants who sat in on most of our classes, and were available for us to use for help with any of our classes or projects. They were great and had different Digital Marketing specialties.
Did it get me a job?
Before I took the course, I wanted to know whether I would receive assistance in getting work afterwards. I think this might depend on how invested your instructor is in their students, but here’s my experience:
- Jon regularly posted in our group Slack channel with job opportunities that he’d seen around.
- There was also a noticeboard board in the General Assembly campus where job opportunities were posted.
- The course included one optional extra lesson, which went over interviews processes, resumes, online profiles, and best practices for job searching. I found this lesson very useful.
As for getting a job, well, I’m still working on it – I haven’t been fully invested in job searching just yet as I’ve got a 3 week trip to Europe coming up, but when I get back I’ll get right onto it.
Was it worth it?
I was apprehensive of the price tag – $3500 is no small investment. However, Robert did point out to me that this is about the same cost as one semester of a university course. When you think of it that way, it doesn’t seem all that bad.
I wanted to know that I would get enough experience to apply for jobs or get freelance work afterwards. Even though I haven’t had the chance to look for work yet, I’d say that my chances of landing something are probably pretty high.
I’ve been taught the most recent Digital Marketing practices, I’ve got a widely recognised educational institution on my resume, I have teachers who would be willing to give me references, and I have a network of people to connect with in my job search.
Sure, there are cheaper courses online, but I felt like going into the classroom twice a week drove me to learn more and do better. It was nice having classmates who were going through the same experience as I was. So while the on-campus course was the most expensive, I’ll say that it was definitely worth it.
By the way, I did not receive any compensation for this post. I paid the full course fee, and was not asked by General Assembly to do a review. I wrote it purely so that you might get a decent idea of what the Digital Marketing course is like at General Assembly.