Meet Somerville Academy Alumni Kiri Vanderwel

May 23, 2019
Somerville Academy Alumni - Kiri Vanderwel

Say Hello To Kiri Vanderwel

Somerville Alumni Kiri Vanderwel tells all about her experience in our program and her life afterwards.

Hi, Kiri, let’s start with a little bit of background. What were you doing before Somerville?

I was just returning from maternity leave to my job as Community Development Coordinator for West Richmond Community Association.

Were you always interested in a career in STEM?

Not at all. I have always pursued jobs related to customer service, marketing or event planning, but I was very interested in digital marketing and how it could enhance my skill set.

When you decided you wanted to further your career/skill set what options did you consider?

I was actually in the midst of a semester back at University when I discovered Somerville. I then pitted Somerville’s curriculum against all local and correspondence-based digital marketing programs and it won hands down.

Why did you ultimately decide to enroll with Somerville Academy?

What ultimately sold me was two-fold: the first was the ability to achieve a new level in my career in months via Somerville’s condensed, industry-level program, that would have taken me years to achieve at University. The second, and perhaps more important, was that the curriculum was designed for women, by a woman. (As a busy mom coming off of maternity leave, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to tackle a full-time program while working part-time and momming all the time. The ability to do this work anywhere, anytime with Katie’s understanding and support was paramount for me being able to complete the program).

What is your best memory from the program?

Laughing with Katie and our cohort. Often. With big fuzzy socks on.

What was the most difficult thing you faced during the program? How did you overcome it?

The most difficult thing was fitting in the coursework while working part time and parenting a busy infant/toddler. (Not enough sleep!) I overcame it by working really hard when the baby napped, when he was at daycare, and when he went to bed at night. I essentially fit it into all the open spaces I had and got it done. (And I had the support of my husband and family to do it all.) It was a lot of hard work, but worth every moment.

What was something that separated Somerville from your previous school experiences and made it unique?

Katie Jeanes. (I could go on forever here, but…) Katie’s talent, patience, courage, resourcefulness, kindness, humor (dad jokes)…all make Somerville what it is. We learned SO much in such a short period of time, and did it with our arms locked not only with each other in our cohort, but with Katie right there with us. It is absolutely unlike anything that I have ever experienced academically and I am forever grateful.

How has Somerville helped you in your life and/or career?

The confidence (never mind the skill set) that I acquired throughout the program at Somerville has helped instrumentally in my career. (I can do hard things!) I wouldn’t be in the role I am in today if I hadn’t upgraded my skills at Somerville at the time that I did.

What advice do you have for future Somerville students?

I will say that it does require you to do the work to pursue the job/career for you. Katie/Somerville gives you all the tools to be able to easily present yourself as a competent digital marketer, and the career development support to feel like you aren’t alone in your career search/business development. It is a lot of work, but it felt like I was working hard to learn and do things I didn’t know I was capable of.

What are you doing now?

I am a Special Events Programmer for the City of Delta.

What motivates you?

Contribution and collaboration. Being able to contribute tangible and valuable support, ideas, and creativity to a project, group, or event is what keeps me going and what motivated me to sharpen this skill set in the first place.

What is your ultimate career goal?

Director of Marketing.

If you could describe Somerville Academy with one word, what would it be?


Thank you, Kiri, for letting everyone learn a bit about your experiences.

We are so happy to see our Somerville Alumni Kiri Vanderwel doing so well and achieving her goals. We can’t wait to see what else the future holds for her!



How To Change Careers Into Digital Marketing

Join Katie Jeanes, an expert digital marketer, career-changer, and founder of Somerville Academy, in a free 4-part course that will help you change careers into digital marketing and transform your career, income, and quality of life.