When I reached out to Christina Nichols to discuss her experience in Springboard’s Digital Marketing for Professionals course, she was glowing, her enthusiasm radiating from Denver to California over our Zoom conference call.

“Well, before we start, I do have some news,” she said. “My company has actually been acquired.”

When Christina enrolled with Springboard back in April, she did so with her own business, NicholsGPS, in mind. Christina was working for herself as a consultant focused on helping philanthropic organizations, primarily with their fundraising and donor renewals.

Christina Nichols“I think this course is an awesome fit for anybody focused on fundraising for nonprofits,” she said. “At the end of the day, my job is focused on acquisition and retention marketing—we just call it something different in this field.”

As Christina worked her way through the course materials, she applied the various projects in the curriculum directly to her own business, gaining hands-on experience with content creation, social media management, paid advertising, and conversion optimization, among other digital channels. Her work has since been pulled together into an exemplary digital marketing portfolio, a key asset that students use to highlight their experience and work throughout the curriculum.

“This course was huge for me,” Christina said. “I came into this with some knowledge of marketing already, but this course covered all the digital skills I needed without overwhelming me. It reinforced what I already knew, but filled in the gaps for me.”

Digital marketing analytics, in particular, was intimidating, she said. “Having the ability to experiment with real-world projects, but in a safe space—that’s an opportunity you don’t get in the professional world,” she said. “I was able to learn by taking risks.”

Christina was paired with mentor Scott Chappell, a former CMO who’s now managing partner at Back | Next. The two met weekly, with Scott encouraging Christina to experiment with new digital strategies to grow her business.

Interested in using Linkedin to reach her target audience online, Scott encouraged Christina to experiment with video content. The result was her What’s On The Whiteboard series, in which she directly fields questions related to navigating philanthropic fundraising.

“At the beginning of this course, I would never have imagined that I’d end up making video content,” she said. “At first I felt like such a dork, but Scott encouraged me and was adamant that I didn’t half-ass it. Now people come up to me at conferences and say, ‘What’s on the whiteboard this week?’”

Ultimately, it was the mentorship aspect of the Digital Marketing for Professionals course that stood out most to Nichols.

Related: Why Marketing Mentors Are So Important

“Other online courses where you go through materials online and then just take a quiz at the end—there’s not much value in that,” Christina said. “My mentor Scott—I don’t know that I would have been nearly as successful without him. To have someone like that to meet with regularly and bounce ideas off of was amazing. That’s the element that sets Springboard apart.”

Late this fall, Marketing Communication Resource of Cleveland, Ohio, reached out to Christina to acquire NicholsGPS.

“I never imagined that I would work for someone else again, but they gave me an opportunity I couldn’t say no to and I can bring the skills I have learned to a broader client base,” she said.

Christina now serves as vice president of client development for the company.

“I haven’t even told Scott yet!” she said with a smile.

Find out more about Digital Marketing for Professionals here. You’ll learn to think like a digital marketer while gaining real-world insights from an expert mentor working in the field.