student success story

Cleo Studied Digital Marketing for Financially Bright Future

cleo content marketing study2

Cleo Akaroa

Content Marketer

You may recognise Cleo if you’ve been following NZIE for a while; she was Valedictorian of her graduating class and Content Marketing Coordinator at NZIE – working behind the scenes to deliver engaging content to our community!    

A former Graphic designer, Cleo upskilled with NZIE’s Diploma in Digital Marketing and is currently Email Marketing Specialist at Groov – a forward-thinking workplace wellbeing company. 

It was our pleasure to chat with Cleo about her motivations, favourite subjects, career advancements, and the impact of studying at NZIE. Check it out!  

The Decision to Pursue a Diploma

Cleo’s transition from graphic design to digital marketing was sparked by her freelance work, where she noticed an increasing demand for digital marketing tasks from her clients. Although she had been teaching herself these skills, Cleo sought a formal qualification to gain confidence and deliver better client results. Enter NZIE!   

“It was an excellent complementary skill for graphic design to have digital marketing. And it was a perfect way to diversify the opportunities I could get in my career. Plus, there is a higher earning potential with digital marketing skills compared to just graphic design.”  

With 2 young kids, Cleo has to think seriously about supporting them financially and securing the best future for her family.  

“I knew that my salary was capped as a graphic designer and that if I didn’t upskill, I wouldn’t be able to boost my earning potential. So I made that decision after I had baby number two to get back into study, upskill and make myself more appealing to recruiters. And clients as well.”  

Balancing Work, Study, and Motherhood

 Cleo’s journey was challenging, as she embarked on her Diploma while raising two young children. Juggling work, study, and motherhood required sacrifices, but she firmly believed upskilling was essential for her children’s future and career advancement.  

“When I started the Diploma in digital marketing, it was the craziest year of my life. I was a mother of two. I had a one-year-old and five year old when I started studying. So that was a crazy time of my life. Lots of sacrifices, but it was well worth it. Because now, I have a fantastic career and lots of opportunities. And it was all for them anyway so that they could have a better life.” 

Favourite Subjects and the Love for Content Marketing

Cleo discovered her passion for content marketing during her diploma studies. This subject resonated with her because it allowed her to combine her graphic design skills with strategic marketing, creating compelling content marketing solutions. Cleo enjoyed the blend of strategy and creative design, coordinating assets to execute comprehensive plans.  

Career Advancements and the Role of NZIE

Cleo’s study journey took her to Breakthrough Business Solutions, where she initially joined as a Digital Marketing Coordinator. Her connection with a tutor at NZIE helped her secure the interview, and her acquired skills paved the way for her promotion to Marketing Manager!   

The flexibility of NZIE’s study hours enabled Cleo to work part-time while pursuing her Diploma.  

“Working while studying was great because I could implement what I was learning in the classroom at work the next day. And my manager loved it because I was learning from experts and tutors, and I could ask them for advice on helping me roll out and implement our marketing plans. So that was amazing to have NZIE’s support in my workplace. And then that helped me get promoted to marketing manager.”  
cleo nzie digital marketing

Returning to NZIE

After some time working away, Cleo was approached by a tutor to come and work at NZIE! She was eager to dive deep into content marketing which she loved so much whilst studying:  

“It was terrific working at NZIE. Because I got to step into my expertise and do what I loved. My previous role was 50% Digital; a lot of it was in-person marketing initiatives. At NZIE I could focus entirely on digital solutions.”  

The Diploma gave her excellent experience that she could bring into the role.   

Specialising in Email Marketing

 After gaining experience in content marketing, Cleo decided to specialise and focus on email marketing at Groov. This shift allowed her to bring together her love for strategic thinking and creativity while freeing herself from the constant demands of social media. She loves it. 

“It’s been so interesting slipping away from a generalist role and specialising in one area. It’s been amazing because I can give all my energy to one thing instead of juggling multiple disciplines.

It’s an excellent way to hone in on one area of expertise and build it up. I get to focus all my energy on perfecting my craft and getting good results. Whereas if I had to juggle many things, they would all be up in the air and mediocre. But being able to focus on one, I’ve been able to shine and get some excellent results.

It’s been amazing to test my capabilities and see how I can still pick up old skills that I might have dropped off from the Diploma, tap back into them, and make them into a career.”  

Upskilling and Applying Knowledge

Cleo emphasises the importance of continuously upskilling in the ever-changing digital marketing industry. She highlights that the foundational knowledge she gained from her Diploma at NZIE plays a vital role in her current role as an email marketing specialist. A holistic understanding of various digital marketing disciplines enables her to create cohesive strategies and leverage her expertise to deliver impactful results.  

“It’s essential to upskill in digital marketing while in employment. After all, the industry is ever-changing. It’s constantly evolving, and new things are coming into play; emerging trends are happening frequently. And it’s such a fast-paced industry. I recommend studying so you can stay on the pulse and know what’s happening, what’s emerging, and what’s coming through. And just so that you have, like, a basket of tools and knowledge to pull from to better benefit your company and your workplace.”  

Not to mention, if there are massive shifts in the industry or if Cleo decides to specialise in something else, she is ready:   

“If I wanted to explore something else, I’ve got many skills to pick up from the Diploma.”  

Comparing NZIE with Other Educational Institutions

Reflecting on her previous studies at Open Polytechnic and Yoobee, Cleo found that NZIE stood out due to its flexibility, adaptability, and strong support system. Unlike her earlier studies, NZIE provided practical assessments that directly applied to real-world demands. Cleo appreciated the ability to apply what she learned in the classroom to her job immediately, giving her a head start in her career.  

“My previous studying experiences were so different because NZIE was super flexible. They were futuristic, even way back when I studied, which was a few years ago. But they already had started implementing remote study as well back then. They were super accommodating, adaptable and supportive, like so supportive. It was amazing.”  

The practical nature of the Diploma made her feel job-ready:  

“NZIE had more practical assessments that were based on real-world skills and demands in the workplace. I could apply everything I studied at NZIE the next day into my job. At work, I would be tasked with something, and then I’d be able say ‘Oh yeah, I learned that at NZIE!’

Something I learned in my degree at Open Polytechnic didn’t apply to the world. I did a stats paper, and don’t use stats at all. But that was just something I had to do to get that degree badge or, like that certification, that qualification. But it has yet to benefit me in terms of my skills. I use only a few skills from previous places. I studied everything I said NZIE; I’m still applying every day, all these years later.”  

Invaluable Skills

Based on her journey and the invaluable skills she acquired; Cleo wholeheartedly recommends NZIE to aspiring digital marketing professionals.   

“I would 100% Recommend NZIE. It has opened up a world of opportunities for me on my career front. Also, I can start a side business or freelancing with my skills. One of my favourite parts about studying was all the skills I was learning. I could practice with clients and earn some money while testing and learning with new people. So definitely a great way to expand your career opportunities and boost your earning potential.” 

Is studying Digital Marketing the right move for you? Check out our Diploma in Digital Marketing – your ticket to a financially bright future. 

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Entry Criteria:

To be admitted into NZ Certificate in English Language Level 4 General, all applicants must meet the following requirements:

a) Be a speaker of English as an additional language; and

b) Hold a NZCEL Applied Level 3 [3667] qualification; or

c) Pass an NZIE entry test that meets the requirements for the CEFR B2 requirements or equivalent; and

d) Be of a minimum age of 16 years or older; and.

e) Be a New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency OR Certificate of Refugee Status and evidence of eligibility to study for the duration of enrolment.

Entry Criteria:

To be admitted into NZ Certificate in English Language Level 3 General, all applicants must meet the following requirements:

a) Be a speaker of English as an additional language; and

b) Hold a NZCEL Level 2 qualification; or

c) Pass an NZIE entry test that meets the requirements for the CEFR mid B1 requirements or equivalent; and

d) Be of a minimum age of 16 years or older; and.

e) Be a New Zealand citizen or resident; or have Certificate of Refugee Status and evidence of eligibility to study for the duration of enrolment.

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