What I imagine my workspace to look like.

How I learned to stop worrying and trust online courses.

The day I graduated with an MA in English Literature was one of the happiest days of my life. It was the end of a seven-year journey in higher education that taught me critical thinking, deep analysis, and effective communication. The day after I graduated, however, the only thing I felt was fear. My job as a Digital Project Manager at the university library — archiving technical manuals for the government — was dependent on my enrollment as a student. Now that I had graduated, I had no job and no job prospects.

So being unemployed, broke, and uncertain of my future, I did what I always did: I researched. Google returned all sorts of blogs and advice for English majors. With only my lifelong love of computers, a knack for all things tech, and some experience with a digital project, I sent out hundreds of resumes to jobs that usually had “coordinator” in the title, but I got few replies. I asked a friend to look over my resume and his response told me everything: “You say that you have these skills, but there isn’t anything on paper that proves that.” Determined, I scoured the internet for an answer, and I found one: online courses.

My first thought when it came to internet courses was that these courses were not accredited and would not result in anything tangible that I could show an employer. Nevertheless, I took a few coding classes that gave me some solid skills and a portfolio to put on my resume. When I finished these classes, I was hired almost immediately as a Website Coordinator. Having studied HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, I thought for sure that I would end up in an IT department somewhere, but I didn’t. I was surprised to find myself on a Digital Marketing team.

Digital Marketing is a strange mix of everything I’ve learned from being an English student to working as a Web Coordinator. I decided that I wanted to find out as much as I could about it.

Now, I’m embarking on the next stage of my career with a clearly defined purpose and am once again turning to the resource that got me here: online courses. This time I have decided to invest more and try a more rigorous program, one that works with industry giants like Facebook and Google. I am currently enrolled in the Udacity Digital Marketing Nanodegree course (#IminDMND) and have already learned much more than I thought I would. I did have my doubts. Anytime you put down a significant sum of money for something that’s not proven, you’re going to have doubts. (Thanks for the critical thinking skills, English degree!) Udacity has put these doubts to rest. The course is rigorous and thorough. When I got feedback on my first project, I was amazed. The comments made me think about my decisions and why I made them. There was concrete guidance from an expert on how to improve. I’m now committed to finishing the course and seeing where it takes me. It turns out that learning didn’t end with my Master’s degree; with Udacity, I feel like I am just getting started.

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