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Somerville Academy Review with Alison Sagar

May 06, 2020

Growing and Inspiring

After working in different roles and trying her hand at entrepreneurship, Alison knew it was time to make a change. Graduate Alison Sagar shares what she learned in our program and her experiences afterward in freelancing and 9-5 roles in this Somerville Academy review.

What were you doing before you entered Somerville’s program, Alison? What changes were you hoping to make in your career that caused you to enroll?

I had been working for a real estate investment firm in Italy for 2 years. Then I moved back to Vancouver because I wanted to stretch my entrepreneurial skill-set. I had always worked for companies and had them up on a pedestal. I needed to become entrepreneurial to get to the nitty-gritty of what a company is and what the rules are.

I founded an event planning company. I worked for a variety of things. I did a wedding, political campaigns, and Vancouver Fashion Week. It really helped me grow as a person but I wanted something else. I always knew I wanted to get a bit more involved with technology but I didn’t want to be a software engineer or programmer. I wasn’t sure what the right path was.

I was recommended to Somerville Academy by a friend’s mom. I was always in the arts, fashion, and events. Being able to understand all the things behind digital marketing felt like the perfect fit.

When did you graduate from Somerville’s Digital Marketing program?

I graduated mid-May 2020, in the height of the global pandemic.

After you graduated what did your job search process look like?

It wasn’t the most traditional route. I’m thankful that during the Somerville program they worked on our resumes, LinkeIn profiles, and our “above and beyond” projects. While in the program I started a new job in business & development. I was open and honest with my whole network about being enrolled in the program. I was excited about digital marketing, my projects, and my success.

Because of that, my boss reached out to discuss creating a new role for me since they haven’t been working on their marketing. I also had people in my network reach out regarding freelance opportunities. I did apply for a few roles but I was lucky that sharing throughout the process caused people to be interested and excited to collaborate when I graduated. Digital marketing is a skill-set that is in such need these days that so many are excited to collaborate.

Did Somerville prepare you well for the job search process?

I’m really happy how Somerville focused on thinking outside the box. Before I looked at sites and judged myself way too harshly against the requirements they had and didn’t apply. Even if I did apply, I had a “beggars perspective” of “Oh, I hope they’ll even consider me” instead of standing in my value.

With Somerville Academy’s help, I finally understood my worth and my perspective changed. I now know I have this incredible skill-set. I’m able to say “you don’t even know you need me yet, and let me show you why you need me”. Somerville gave me a really different way of seeing the job market.

How long did it take before you found your current position?

Right now, I’m still in transition at my 9-5 position. I did start taking on a more traditional side of marketing during the program. We’re still figuring out exactly what the new role will be. We do know it will be a combination role. I should probably start taking on this new role sometime in August. To have that and to be freelancing has been great.

In regards to my freelance work, my client and I spoke when I first started taking the program. I started freelancing the week after I finished the course because we knew it was coming throughout the program. Once I graduated we set up a proper conversation. We now have weekly calls and different projects that we’re working on and strategizing together. 

I’m most thankful that our capstones are with real people and real companies. Having a discovery call and turning it into a real project, explaining the tech and foundations of digital marketing to the companies really helped ground me in what we were learning.

Since out in the real world I realized that I’m still learning and it’s ok to not to be 100% on all the technologies in the world. There are other technologies I will need to learn. It’s ok to help with a project that I may not know all aspects of. Somerville Academy grounded me in the fact that I will continue to learn. I can teach myself, look up the webinars, and Google the information. That shows I can continue to grow and develop which makes for a good Digital Marketer.

What is your current position/title?

As I said it’s still in negotiation but the current plan is that I will be the Marketing & Business Development Coordinator.

For my freelance work, I have the website I built through the Somerville program, alisonsagar.art. I also own the website domain for my event planning company and at one point I plan to develop that and grow it.

What did you learn at Somerville that is most valuable in your current role?

Learning the skill-sets to continue learning and to trust my ability to keep growing was so important. Working directly with real companies during the capstone projects gave me that confidence in my worth. 

For my freelance projects, right now, I’m focusing on ads management, international virtual event planning, and lead pages. Those have been incredible skills. I didn’t even know what a lead page was before enrolling in this program. It was a great skill-set to understand.

For my 9-5 role, the concept of the nurture funnel has been very beneficial. Even from a philosophical perspective. The idea of creating this digital strategy that will funnel people through a process and create these multiple touchpoints that will remind them who you are without being annoying. And creating important content that they will want to receive. That was important for me to understand.

What advice would you give women looking to change their careers or go into tech?

I would say just do it! The longer you wait the longer it takes before you hit that true and authentic role that you’re wanting to reach for. I also find that by learning new skills you start finding other places in your life that become important that you hadn’t thought about yet.

I noticed not only have the skills been useful for finding freelancing contracts and getting my promotion at work but they’ve also come in handy in other aspects of my life. By taking that first step you’ll really benefit from Somerville Academy’s program.

What are your key takeaways from all the experiences you’ve gained?

My key takeaway would be that I CAN learn it. That, one step at a time, I can help so many people around me that I didn’t even know needed help. That there are incredible women out there that are mentoring and I hope to help inspire more women. I am so thankful for Somerville Academy.

Showing Others They Can Too

Hearing about Alison’s journey from enrollment, to graduation, and after is definitely an inspiration. It is so wonderful to see a student start with very little knowledge of a topic to then go out and just kill it! We couldn’t be more proud to call Alison a Somerville Academy Alumna and can’t wait to see what else she’s going to do.

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