From a Double Major to Digital Marketing: How a Boot Camp Made it Happen

Sarah Calaman graduated from college with a double major in psychology and French in 2019, with an initial goal to pursue a career in children’s speech pathology. However, that changed when she landed a PR and communications internship with a nonprofit focused on bringing poetry to New York City communities.

“Through that experience, I discovered a fascination for communications and PR,” said Sarah. “I also saw firsthand how organizations and businesses thrive with a strong online presence, which then inspired my passion for digital marketing.”

In early 2020, the pandemic caused widespread lockdowns and massive shifts in how the world did business. But, rather than discouraging Sarah, these challenges further ignited her desire to pursue a future in marketing. After doing some research, Sarah made up her mind: she would enroll in Columbia Engineering Digital Marketing Boot Camp and take the next step in her career.

Taking the first step toward her future

After stepping through the boot camp’s digital doors, Sarah was pleased to discover that the experience she’d gained through her internship had started her on the right foot. “Just like in PR, marketing is all about presenting yourself to the world,” said Sarah. “I knew about that process firsthand.” 

Her natural familiarity with digital media was another major asset. As she explained, “Being part of a generation that grew up with the internet and social media shaped the way I see things and helps me anticipate how the industry might evolve going forward.”

Saturday classes particularly stuck out for Sarah, since they started earlier in the day. She jumped headfirst into learning different digital marketing subjects alongside other learners — asking plenty of questions to better grasp the boot camp material and regularly meeting with her course assistants to discuss concepts and work on assignments.

“Our instructor and the course assistants were marketing professionals, so they were able to give us insight into what real digital marketers do on a day-to-day basis,” said Sarah. “That was really helpful, because we got to have people with real career experience ensure that we were going to succeed in a real job setting.”

One of Sarah’s favorite boot camp projects entailed performing content analysis of a small business’s digital marketing efforts — from their website to their social media presence. She chose a boutique store in Brooklyn, leveraging their boot camp learnings to determine how the business could improve its digital marketing efforts.

“I really enjoyed observing how they presented themselves online, and it was cool being able to use my expertise that I’d gained solely through lectures and presentations,” recalled Sarah. “That experience made me think more deeply about how real businesses benefit from great marketing.”

Landing the career of her dreams

Of course, landing a digital marketing role takes more than just knowing a lot of information. As marketers know, it’s also about presenting that information in the right way and making a great first impression. Luckily, the boot camp’s career services team suggested improvements to Sarah’s resume and gave her useful tips on how to bolster her LinkedIn presence — all so she could succeed in her job search.

These refinements were invaluable for Sarah and, before she knew it, she’d received a message from a recruiter seeking someone with digital marketing experience to fill a position at a boutique New York City law firm. She now works at that firm as a Business Development and Marketing Assistant.

“I do marketing, event planning, and communications work from the business development side of things, which is great because I was always interested in those areas,” said Sarah. “I’m responsible for creating social media posts, publishing announcements on our website, working on email campaigns, and gathering insights on audience engagement through analytics.”

One project Sarah particularly enjoyed working on in her current role was developing an electronic holiday card for clients. Using skills gained in the boot camp, she created and managed the campaign with an eye for detail to ensure that everyone was successfully sent a card.

When the firm sponsors events, Sarah makes appropriately branded advertisements for event journals. And, if an attorney asks about a specific company they want to know more about before a meeting with a client or contact, Sarah can develop a research packet for them.

“Performing market research on competitors for one of my boot camp assignments did a lot to prepare me for that work that I do on a regular basis,” said Sarah.

Going into the digital marketing boot camp, Sarah wasn’t sure if she had made the right call. But she walked away from her experience with both expertise and lasting memories. “I remember thinking at the time that the boot camp was a great way for me to just focus on something that I really wanted to pursue and learn a lot about. I really was able to get a lot out of it.”

Are you ready to learn in-demand skills that can help you succeed in a new tech career? Consider Columbia Engineering Boot Camps in coding, product management, data analytics, cybersecurity, fintech, digital marketing, UX/UI, and tech project management.

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