Barbara Kalicki spent 12 years working in the financial services industry before she found herself, accidentally, falling into her first marketing role.

“I was tasked with taking over social media and SEO because the manager I was working for at the time had no experience in those areas,” she said. “I’m pretty technically inclined, so my manager said, ‘I don’t want to deal with social media or SEO, can you handle it?’”

Excited by the opportunity to develop a new skill set, Barbara jumped headfirst into learning about social media, email marketing, and SEO by devouring content online and taking whatever courses she could find. But just as her excitement was growing, her position at the company was cut and she found herself back on the job market.

“When I had to find another job, I thought: now I really need to learn digital marketing, if this is what I want to do with my career,” Barbara said with a chuckle.

After discovering Springboard and reading a couple of reviews of the digital marketing bootcamp, she decided to reach out to the team to learn more.

“I told them I’d just been let go from my job,” said Barbara, who expressed concern about her ability to pay for the course given that she was newly unemployed. “Springboard gave me a scholarship and told me about their payment plans. I looked at other courses, too, from Cornell and a couple of other places—they were way more expensive and didn’t have the one-on-one mentorship with an expert in the field, which was really important to me.”

The structure of the curriculum itself also appealed to Barbara. “The assignments make you really dive into the actual content as opposed to just reading some things, studying, then taking a test,” she said.

Learning from an experienced entrepreneur

As Barbara dove into the online curriculum, she was paired with mentor Dave Bascom, an experienced entrepreneur who had previously founded and sold SEO.com.

“Dave was really, really great,” she said. “He said, ‘Barb, you’ve got this. You know what this stuff is, you just need to put it in a context that other people understand.’ Many times instead of talking about the course we would chat about real-life problems that I came across—what I’d do for this event or how I’d improve the SEO of a particular webpage—that kind of thing.”

The opportunity to work with a true subject-matter expert had benefits far greater than just helping with understanding new course material and concepts. “Meeting weekly with Dave showed me how to think from the perspective of somebody that has tons of experience in the area—he was definitely a great resource for me,” said Barbara. “Even after the program ended, Dave said, ‘If you ever have any questions, or need any assistance, just let me know and you can reach out. Text me, call me, whatever.’”

Finding a digital marketing job

As Kalicki neared the end of the Springboard program, her conversations with her mentor turned increasingly toward finding a new job. After working in a series of more task-oriented positions, Barbara knew what she was looking for.

“I really wanted to get into a more strategic role,” she said. “That was one of the reasons I took the course to begin with—I knew if I could start talking and learning analytics, then I could analyze things and come up with strategies to help businesses grow.”

Soon after completing the program, Barbara landed a job at TCS Education System, a company she had first applied to two years prior. The company provides resources and operational expertise necessary for several affiliate colleges, allowing their partner schools to focus on creating new programs and providing a great student experience. Barbara is now part of a 25-person marketing team, acting as the company’s digital measurement and insights strategist.

“My job is basically to take data, analyze it, and come up with recommendations,” she said. “I’m providing recommendations to deans, professors, and presidents of colleges based on insights from Google Analytics, AdWords, Salesforce, and other tools. My job is to create and tell a story that they understand. I show them how our marketing programs influence things and why things like social media do matter.”

Being ‘the glue’ of the marketing team

Aside from delivering insights based on TCS Education System’s marketing strategies, Barbara has also been asked to act as an agent of change within the organization. The company was operating with distinct design, content, and digital teams, but the groups were operating in silos. “My VP has said, ‘If we want to be an award-winning marketing team we have to stop operating in silos and start talking to each other,’” Barbara recalled.

Barbara’s new role put her in a position uniquely suited to open up communication between the groups, as the data she’s analyzing is typically the output of the work of the entire marketing team. “Barb, I want you to be the glue between all of the different teams, because it’s kind of your role anyways,” Barbara’s VP said to her.

For Barbara, playing the role of unifier struck at the heart of what she’s grown to love about digital marketing. “My whole thing with digital marketing is it shouldn’t be siloed, like, ‘Oh you’re going to do SEO, and then social media, and then this other channel or tactic,’” she said. “Digital marketing really works best when all of the channels are working together, so if there’s a problem, for example, a program with falling registrations, we can bring everybody together to figure out why it’s happening and what we can do across the team to fix it.”

Advice for aspiring digital marketers

Now at home in a career that she loves, Barbara reflected on her own journey and experience in Springboard’s Digital Marketing Career Track.

“I’d tell anyone thinking about the program to take advantage of the Google AdWords Ad Grants program, which pairs students with a non-profit organization and a $10,000 marketing budget,” Kalicki said. “It’s one thing to learn in a school setting where you’re taking tests and doing projects, but it’s another thing to actually get your hands dirty and dig in. Doing the work to try to improve a business in the real world is very different from learning theory. It’s important to get as much real-world experience as you can, to pick your mentor’s brain, and get as much information out of them as you can.”

But be careful about the information that you do extract; next thing you know Barbara might just be analyzing it.

Interested in starting or growing your digital marketing career with the support of a mentor? Check out the Digital Marketing Career Track—you’ll learn the skills and get the personalized guidance you need to land the job you want.