Now that we were fully in the digital world due to the pandemic, I realized I needed to learn to use the tools of my trade, and use them well.
Social Media was my friend, but there were days it could feel like a stranger, too. Now I was tasked with navigating the business side of it, and the rules were very different. While I’d spent the better part of the last decade experimenting with the back end of my own website trying to teach myself, it made sense now that I should invest in learning how to use these tools well so I could be a good steward of my time and the dollars being invested to use them.
With a bit of help from my aunt, I enrolled into Rice University’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp and embarked on a paradigm shifting 16 -week journey into the tech world.
It was in this virtual class that I met Catherine Funderburg, M.Ed.
Cathy is other-worldly in the way she showed up for class every single session with a light, joy, and passion that was so refreshing at the end of a day’s work. During our first night, I was brought to tears as she recalled her own “take the leap and build your wings on the way down” moment as she shifted careers. I just knew right then that my prayers for “a change” had been answered, and I was in the right place with the right people. Across each module, Cathy pushed us all to think on our feet, work quickly with accuracy, and while aiming for success, to be honest, kind, and determined. Her warmth in every session was like a Mom’s hug at the end of the day reminding me to keep going, even on the days when it got rough.
And boy did it get rough!
I called Cathy in tears on the day I was suspended from my job without an explanation. When I was exhausted from speaking up and not being heard, Cathy was present; she listened, and gave me very clear directions as to my next steps. And she continued to check in, to reassure me that she believed in my abilities and what I have to offer, and make sure I felt supported along the way.
It was in this class, too, I realized that here I was matched with other extremely talented professionals with whom I could communicate expertly, have good rapport, complete tasks on time, be creative without fear of being judged harshly or unfairly, and have fun while completing assigned tasks. With every group and solo project we completed I realized I was beginning to find my voice, and that I could thrive in this industry.
Perhaps the things I’d imagined for myself professionally were possible? Why hadn’t I studied Communications before this?
By the time the 16-week class was over in the last week of June, it was very clear to me that I wasn’t the same person who’d enrolled at the end of January.
And by the end of July, life as I knew it was going to change. I would never be the same.