An aspiring Whitianga Digital Marketer who skipped university finally discovered a reason worth going back to school for. Thirty years after leaving school she’s taken up studying digital marketing through NZIE.
“I’ve always joked that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but now I’ve found something that suits me perfectly.”
A chance meeting with a web design company led Kat to investigate this career path further. She began exploring her options with the idea of acquiring new skills and furthering her education. Nowadays it’s possible to study online to become a Digital Marketer! Something Kat never thought could happen. We spoke with Kat to find out how she is finding the NZIE’s Digital Marketing Level 7 course and online study in general.
Meet Upskilling Career Changer Kat
Hi, I’m Kat Neilson-Jones, I live in the seaside village of Cooks Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. I work locally in Whitianga just a five-minute ferry ride away. I’ve always been creative and also enjoyed numbers, I never knew if I should go to art school or be an accountant. In the end, I put university on hold and decided to get a job.
I’ve had a varied work career from banking to running a fruit packhouse, working in aged care and then education. I’ve never really known exactly what I wanted to do until now.
My current role is Office Administrator / Project Co-ordinator for the All About Whitianga website. That means I do a bit of everything, including the digital marketing for the website. After the first year in the job, I was keen to understand more about digital marketing and started to look around for study options.
A career change that allows the opportunity to learn while I earn.
Since joining the All About Whitianga team, my role has slowly morphed more towards the digital marketing aspects of the business. For instance, writing content, social media, email marketing, design and analytics are all part of the things I do each week. By studying the Diploma in Digital Marketing, I’ve been able to strengthen my knowledge and skills in all these areas. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to implement my learnings into the business and see the positive results.
Studying and working is challenging, that’s no secret. I have been lucky enough to have a very supportive family and employer while I take advantage of this opportunity.
How I discovered NZIE and the Diploma in Digital Marketing.
A sponsored post promoting the NZIE Digital Marketing course caught my attention on Facebook. When I arrived at the website, I was intrigued by the eight different papers listed. Truly, I was surprised by the number of options available and how relevant they were to my work. I could see that they would help cement my knowledge and help me build confidence in my current role.
“It was so easy, I just filled out the online form and the next thing I knew was talking to Phil in recruitment, enrolled and on my way.”
NZIE qualification reinforces career credibility & digital marketing confidence.
It was vital for me to have that “piece of paper” and a recognised qualification. You never know when someone might ask for your credentials. These days there are so many people who are ‘experts’, so for me, it’s confidence-boosting. And, adds credibility for my customers to know I’ll have a qualification.
With the diploma, you’ve got access to all the learning material that you need. I’ve enjoyed learning how to use tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and the video editing programme PremierPro. During my study, I’ve been able to design a logo for my husband’s business. Also, set up a website for my daughter’s cake business using WordPress. I’m also really looking forward to learning about Google Analytics, I can’t wait to make sense of it! Another thing I like is that the tutors at NZIE are working in, or have recently worked in the industry. Therefore, they know how it is in the real world.
“It’s absolute gold to have the NZIE tutors teach from their own experiences and knowledge. Along with guest speakers each term who talk about their roles, it cements the learning. It’s great to know how things work in the real world.”
What its like living rurally and learning digitally.
The online aspect was one thing that sealed the deal for me. I really enjoy the online learning format using Zoom and the online student portal -Canvas, it’s awesome. Sometimes you forget that there are students from Christchurch to Northland and all over the country. I appreciate how supportive the tutors and the students are, it’s like a big family.
Living rurally, about two and half hours from both Auckland and Hamilton, previously if I wanted to study, I’d have to travel. It just wasn’t an option open for me. So NZIE’s Digital Marketing Diploma being delivered online meant I could achieve my study goals.
Learning digitally is so flexible, it has meant that I’ve been able to go on holiday and still study! Last year we went away travelling in a camper van and I was able to Zoom in for my weekly lecture.
“For me, living in a rural area, I’m excited to have access to something I would otherwise only be able to me if I lived in a big city. I highly recommend the online aspect of NZIE.”
What goals do you have for the future of your digital marketing career?
I love my current job at All About Whitianga, so hope that I can soon add Digital Marketer to my job title! There are many ideas for All About Whitianga’s future which I’m excited to help bring to fruition. Businesses that outsource their marketing can concentrate on what they do best. So I’m looking forward to supporting more businesses in Whitianga with my digital marketing skills.
Because 95% of New Zealand businesses are small, there is a massive demand for these new skills. Online marketing is now a vital part of any company’s marketing strategy.
I am also aware that the Diploma will significantly benefit me and my career opportunities no matter what comes along in the future. Many of my classmates now have the confidence to apply for digital marketing roles at agencies or are going to freelance or run their own digital marketing businesses.
What advice do you have for others studying with NZIE?
My best advice would be to:
- Allow yourself 15 hours per week for part-time study or 30 hours if you are full time.
- Set a routine that also allows you some free time. It’s your reward for doing the hours.
- Do your prep work before class. It really does help the online class run smoothly and saves time answering questions.
- Don’t procrastinate. I listened to that advice when I did the orientation. The previous graduates said to get started as soon as you can on your assessments. It’s great advice!
What advice do you have for those who are on the fence about studying?
My advice is don’t procrastinate – just to do it. The time just flies by, you’ll be finished and qualified before you know it!
“Even though it’s challenging, if you’re genuinely interested in Digital Marketing, you’ll enjoy it and get what you put into it.”
Digital Marketing is a great industry to work in as the world changes. Understanding it is fascinating. Would I classify myself as an upskilled professional? Yeah… I guess you can say that with my Diploma, I will no longer be “faking it until I make it!”