student success story

Meet Jenni. Here is her incredible success story and journey as a mature student discovering a new-found passion in her fifties.

digital marketing student review

Jenni Harrison

Diploma in Digital Marketing Graduate

Tell us about yourself? What were you doing before study?

My name is Jenni. I am solopreneur. 

I have a Virtual Assistant (VA) business. 

And I specialise in the Digital Marketing arena. 

I upskilled to study digital marketing later on in my life, in my fifties.  

Before study I got introduced to social media marketing (SMM) by a friend. But that was at the very early stages of SMM in New Zealand. However this person had a product and I wrote to bloggers asking them to write reviews in exchange for products. Subsequently I fell into the position of Marketing Manager and found myself managing social platforms. Consequently I didn’t know what I was actually doing and if I was doing it right. In contrast, I knew I wanted to learn more about this industry so began considering how to get started.  

How come you choose to study digital marketing with NZIE?

I knew it was something I needed, to update my portfolio and not be left behind. Previously I had dipped my toes into a two-day short course and loved the content and what I learnt. From there I did some research and saw that NZIE offered a part-time Digital Marketing Diploma. As a result, I eventually signed up with NZIE and started the evening classes. Additionally, I was a mature student with no degree so was unsure if I’d get accepted. Furthermore I was working full time. However I really wanted to learn more about websites and digital design from a marketing perspective. 

What were your goals coming into the programme?

My main goal was to gain confidence in my abilities to work in the industry. I already had the job but wanted to upskill in what was happening in digital world. There was a wide selection in subject matter and I wanted to see where to focus and specialise in. Thankfully I got the chance to try them all in the diploma.  

While I was studying, the best way to put my skills into practice, was to be a part-time virtual assistant. I loved it so much and have stuck with it ever since! 

I went down to part time hours with work supporting me with days off for study. Then whilst learning I made the transition to virtual work for my part-time job. Simultaneously while studying I got lots of practice in, using friends businesses for assignments at NZIE. 

What was your favourite part of the Digital Marketing Diploma?

I really enjoyed the connection with other students and backgrounds. I was quite nervous being a mature student but the tutor relationships were lovely and I really enjoyed them. Moreover I enjoyed the flexibility of part-time study. I was offered an opportunity to travel and NZIE allowed me to take the opportunity and be flexible with learning. To sum it up they were very supportive. 

How did you find studying part-time?


It wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be and required a lot of extra hours. Consequently it influenced my family time, stress levels and I was met with a lot of sacrifice. For example, there is a lot of theory and research involved to help with the practical implementation. Therefore I had to really listen and tune in during class. On the whole, it was a huge thing to undertake this type of study, and a major achievement. 

How did you manage your time studying and also working full-time?

That was the best thing about becoming a VA. As I had control of my time, how work fit in, my family time, and study obligations etc. For instance, I could get up early and complete my assignment and then hang out with family. That’s why I decided to become a VA which took place in term 2 during the diploma. 

What was the most valuable thing you gained from your time with NZIE?

Confidence! Followed by knowledge, practical experience, great support, feedback and connections for business. Also my VA specialisation, which is in social media. On the other hand, I don’t like the technical side as much as the creative side. But I love the understanding I’ve gained from learning these skills in the diploma. For example, I am able to talk about the technical side with other experts and inform my clients accordingly. Furthermore the great thing about NZIE is I connected with people alike. Such as friends that I can call upon to supplement my knowledge or to collaborate on parts I don’t enjoy. 

What are some achievements, highlights or milestones  you’ve reached since graduating?  

 1. Prana Therapy Partnership Opportunity 

What started strictly as a client relationship turned into a passion project and partnership opportunity. Prana Therapy had some funding right on covid and needed some digital marketing work done. While getting into the work we realised there was so much more than we first thought. Namely a website overhaul and improved social media presence.

“I loved the product so much that I went into a partnership with this business.” 

I can build a business with what I’ve learnt at NZIE. And Prana was one of those businesses I wanted to develop further. Especially now that I understand business fully from a digital marketing point of view.

2. Virtual Assistant New Zealand Network Member 
Moreover, I am now a member of the Virtual Assistant New Zealand Network with 1000+ other VA’s. Being a VA can be quite lonely, but I can bounce ideas off other VA’s on our Facebook group. They also host a virtual summit every year. For instance, they bring on guest speakers, host business workshops etc, it’s a great support network and highlight. 

Would you recommend NZIE? What’s your last parting piece of advice to new students?

Yes I would recommend NZIE’s Digital Marketing Diploma. I love the flexibility and being in charge of my own time as a digital marketing VA. My advice would be to pay attention in class. Equally important, do as much reading and research as you can, ask lots of questions. Also don’t think any question is too stupid either. 

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.

Fees 2020

Student loans available through Study Link. Check if you are eligible here. 

Fees-Free Study.  

You are only eligible for Fees-Free if you haven’t previously undertaken more than 60 credits (half a year of equivalent full-time tertiary education, 0.5 EFTS) at Level 3 or above on the NZQF – New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

To check if you meet the requirements, visit the New Zealand Government’s Fees-Free website and enter your National Student Number (NSN)

If you do not have an NSN, contact your Student Support Advisor.

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