Is General Assembly's Digital Marketing course worth it?
June 6, 2017 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm ready to make the switch out of publishing, and am looking into digital/content marketing as a potential new career. Should I take General Assembly's digital marketing course? Is there a better alternative? How does it look on a resume? Would love to hear from folks who have experience with this course or others like it.

The course in question:

I'm pretty clueless about both marketing basics and the tech side of things, so I'm really looking for a structured overview that will allow me to get feedback on how I'm doing. The GA community and the availability of career counseling also appeal to me. But it's a big time and money commitment, and I'm waffling, so I'd love to hear your thoughts. Other resources also welcome!
posted by sunset in snow country to Education (4 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not familiar with GA courses, though I've heard good things, but there's also a ton of resources for free online. I'd recommend any and all of Hubspot's free courses first, then running through Google Analytics training a few times, too, and then maybe searching for "free digital marketing courses" and picking out some of the ones whose overview hits the points you'd like to be stronger on.

What helps me in my digital marketing career most are the following skills: Google Analytics, knowing a bit of HTML/CSS (and being familiar with CMSs like Wordpress) to specifically make code changes, strategizing and understanding SEO, and knowing how to be a good writer.
posted by knownassociate at 4:01 PM on June 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

Contact past students and ask them about their experience. You can probably email whoever is in charge of the course and they'll give you some students to contact. It's fairly common practice to have old students promote the courses, whether through email or open house events. Ask about getting in touch with a student who was new to marketing, like you are.

When you do talk to those students, ask them who their teachers were and if they'd recommend them. The teacher makes or breaks the course. If the teacher is returning to teach again, that's generally a good sign. If the teacher is a newbie, there's a lot of variability there. By far the best predictor of a worthwhile course is a teacher who has taught this specific course before and who comes recommended by past students.

(I used to work at GA, but not with the digital marketing course.)
posted by danceswithlight at 5:44 PM on June 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I work in digital marketing, but haven't taken a GA course. Here are the pros/cons that popped up for me.

Pros: The GA class looks fairly comprehensive, which is GREAT. And it seems very directly targeted at digital marketing rather than general marketing with digital thrown in for flavor, which is what you get at most colleges, unfortunately. And the price is fairly reasonable when contrasted against college tuition rates, although still kinda spendy. But having a built in job network is a pretty sweet perk. I'd say, if you know that you do better with structured learning and the price wouldn't be an undue hardship, would the week long accelerated course (either online or at a campus) be something you could carve out the time for?

Cons: Other than the obvious money/time issues, GA is really cool, and in certain circles and companies it has gained a reputation for providing rock solid career skill training. However, not all companies have heard of GA and may not have a full understanding of what it is. If your job search is going to be confined primarily to the GA network, that may not be an issue. But if part of the reason for choosing GA was to change careers, and this course doesn't actually help you get a job because local hiring managers don't think it's a "real" credential, would it still be worth paying that much for the skills training alone?

As far as alternatives go, Coursera is free, and I believe completing one of their specialization tracks is something that you can add on your resume and LinkedIn as an official-ish credential from an accredited college/university, which may have more clout with a hiring manager than an unaffiliated online training course.

Lynda is also supposed to be fairly comprehensive and plays well with LinkedIn/has name recognition. It costs money to use it on its own, but if you check your local library, they may have a partnership where you can use Lynda for free with your library card, which is pretty sweet.

I will say this: as a digital marketer who ended up in this job by way of a history major and an originally unrelated job description, one of the things that has been the most helpful to me in terms of learning on the job and keeping up with new developments (a HUGE part of the job) has just been reading industry blogs. Specifically, the Buffer, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and Moz blogs are all REALLY useful and often have great starter posts and general how-tos. Checking those out might help give you more of an idea of the digital marketing landscape right now. Honestly, there's not a whole lot in terms of coding or "hard" tech--it's mostly just figuring out which tools are out there and how to put them to work.

Hope this helps! MeMail me if you want to chat further!
posted by helloimjennsco at 12:51 PM on June 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Thank you all - this is super helpful! I decided to hold off on taking the course for now, keep applying for jobs, and see how far I can get myself with online trainings. (I did go to a course info session and was a little underwhelmed.) I think I was intimidated at first by the idea of sifting through everything with no criteria to judge by, but I've had three people independently recommend the Hubspot inbound training, so I started with that and it's great. Thanks again!
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:37 PM on June 8, 2017

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