Vanessa Pena,

"My analytics classes are not what I expected, in the best way possible!"

COVID-19 has impacted every industry, including leisure and hospitality that accounts for a whopping 39% of pandemic job losses. Due to the pandemic, Vanessa Pena found herself quickly unemployed after earning her Bachelor’s in Communication. 

In this interview, Vanessa shares her experience as an online Digital Marketing and Analytics (DMDA) student, including how it has elevated her perspective and career. 

What were you doing before you enrolled in the DMDA program?

I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication and started as an Assistant Marketing Manager in August. By March, I lost my job due to the pandemic.

Although I thought it would be well in the future, the opportunity to earn my Master’s presented itself. I knew how big data analytics is becoming in the field and I didn't really know anything about it. I started taking online courses to try to get certificates for things like Google Analytics, but I’ve never been very motivated if I'm not getting a grade. I knew that I would put it off and watch Netflix instead. The only way to actually follow through was to enroll in school.

Why did you choose Emerson College?

It was the first one I looked into and was 2 in 1: digital marketing and data analytics. It was a sure thing right then and there. It was a very easy process, really. My Enrolment Advisor was super helpful throughout the whole process. I got accepted and within a week and a half I started the program.

What attracted you to the DMDA online program?

What really attracted me to the program was the convenience of them being two-in-one. I didn't know much about data analytics and how to apply it to marketing. This program helps you see that those topics go hand-in-hand. It’s also designed for people who work full-time. I like how this program really lets you have all the freedom to study at your convenience and not actually have to go in for class at a certain time and speak to a professor.

What was your perception of an online degree before you inquired about Emerson? Has that changed after you enrolled in the DMDA?

Before this program I didn't know what to expect with an entirely online degree. I had taken two online classes during my undergraduate and it saved me a lot of time. Now, I work 9-6 and then study and read on my schedule. A lot of the things I read for my classes actually apply to my everyday job. I think everything being online has really helped with that. My perception has changed in a really positive way,

Was there anything that surprised you about the program or the online experience?

My analytics classes are not what I expected, in the best way possible! I’ve never been good at math. I went into analytics knowing that I needed it, but not knowing much. It’s not scary, just numbers and data that it can apply to things that happen every day. Even how it applies to campaigning, which I work with at Mediahub. It’s been really helpful and a lot different than I expected it.

What has been your favorite class so far and why?

My favorite classes have been Digital Storytelling & Branding and Social Media & VOC Analytics. They gave me a good overall perspective on what digital marketing and data analytics was gonna be. There were so many things that I thought I knew about marketing that I just really didn't. Everything I learned in those first two classes have applied to my other classes.

Have there been any skills you’ve learned in the program that you have had the opportunity to use at work? 

When I took Web Analytics, we learned Google Analytics. At the time, I was working a part-time job and applied it to our website traffic. It was really nice to gather and understand all the insights from Google Analytics and pass them on to my team. It really helped with a campaign we launched, so it was super cool to apply it to my real world. I no longer work with them, but I heard that they continued to use it after I left. 

What are some advantages of pursuing a degree online at Emerson?

I think one of the advantages is flexibility. The way the program is designed really saves a lot of time for me. I can work at my own pace and schedule. Also, Emerson specializes in communication. It's a huge advantage to actually learn from professors who have tons of connections and have worked in big companies. It's really nice to be able to ask them real-world questions and hear their experiences. Also, every now and then we’ll have a guest speaker share a different experience from the industry. 

How were you able to feel connected to your classmates and professors?

I think they do a great job of keeping us connected through team projects. There are a lot of people in different parts of the world, in different stages of their life with different backgrounds. It's been nice to even learn from them. During the discussions, I learn a lot about their experience and what they do to see how other industries work. I've made some good connections through it.

Can you describe your relationship with your Student Success Advisor?

My Student Success Advisor calls me about once a month just to check in on me, which I think is super nice. They're always on top of everything— asking how we're doing in our personal life, how the program is going and any other questions we may have. I haven't had many questions, but anytime I've had a question they reply within seconds. They're always up-to-date and helping with anything I need.

How do you feel about your career now vs. before you started Emerson Online?

I feel a lot stronger in my career now that I’ve started the program. This program has really helped me in my career. I think it's one of the reasons I was hired at Mediahub! I’m learning things that I use in my career daily. The way that I've thought about marketing has evolved through this program.

Funny enough, in one of my first classes they gave us reading about the role of a media planner. I had just recently applied to be a media planner. Fast-forward to today, I'm actually working as an assistant media planner. Now that I started this job, I went back to that same reading and can honestly say I know everything in that now. 

What are your career goals or future plans?

I've always wanted to work at Mediahub and have applied there multiple times throughout the year. I just started as an Assistant Media Planner at Mediahub! I'm hoping to stay here as long as I can. This is a great place for me to start my career. My end-goal has always been to end up in Europe and we have offices in England in Germany.

What advice would you give to those thinking about Emerson’s 100% online DMDA degree?

Getting a master's sounds scary and very time-consuming but this program is designed for people who work full-time. If you have knowledge in marketing, you will learn a lot. This program forces you to keep up to date with what's going on in our industry— reading the latest trends and understanding tools that you can apply to your job every day. In less than one year, I've learned more than I did in my four years of undergraduate study.

Is it time to elevate your career? Discover how Emerson’s online MAM program could propel your future.