Taking the leap into a second career can be daunting, but an Edmonton mom of two is embracing the demand for digital marketing skills and launching her own business at the same time.
After two decades in the commercial printing business as a project coordinator, Maria Hjort Guiney was looking to do something different, but as with many people, life often delays jumping in with both feet until circumstances present the opportunity to embrace a dream.
“My parents were in the printing industry, and I started there and never really left,” she says.
The seeds of her next career were planted four years ago when she purchased an e-commerce website after her twin boys were born. The idea was that she would start a side business and continue with her day job.
“I quickly discovered that I enjoyed the content writing and social media aspect of the website the most,” she says. “I had been in commercial printing for a long time, and digital marketing just kind of spoke to me — I realized it was where I should be.”
Keen to learn more about digital marketing before leaving her long-time job, Hjort Guiney began researching courses and came across a Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) program offered through a partnership at a local polytechnic college in her hometown. A skills assessment quiz revealed that she was more than qualified to take the course. However, taking the program in-person while working full-time would have been challenging to accommodate. It would have required reducing her work hours and being away from her family to take classes. With four-and-a-half-year-old twin boys, it would have been a challenge.
Instead, she discovered the same Certified Digital Marketing Professional program, offered by DMI, could be accessed entirely online, and the course material was available to her when she had time to do the lessons.
Flexibility of online learning
Hjort Guiney started researching DMI’s online programs and discovered she could take the same courses independently, which was a better fit for her lifestyle. She spoke to a DMI advisor and realized the flexibility in the learning platform meant she could learn in a way that fit her schedule, mostly in the evenings and early mornings.
“The videos that accompany the materials are of very good quality and there is a transcript with each one. After each lesson, there is a mini-quiz to make sure you understood the lesson. It’s nicely presented, and there was always support if I needed it,” she says. “Tutors always reply within a day with answers on everything from technical questions to ones about the actual course.”
She completed the DMI Certified Digital Marketing Professional program in December 2019 and returned to her work at the printing company while looking for roles in marketing firms. Then COVID-19 started to affect businesses in Canada, and she was laid off from her job.
“I was at home wondering what to do,” she says. “I took some additional continuing education programs through DMI and decided it was a good time to dive into self-employment. I have always thought about working for myself, and the circumstances kind of forced me to do it.”
Now, Hjort Guiney is helping other small businesses with their digital marketing needs.
Even though she has graduated from the DMI program, she says keeping up on digital trends is aided by having a membership from the school. According to DMI, 88 per cent of its members are working at a senior or management level, and 90 per cent say the DMI Membership has had a positive impact on their career. Membership also provides access to short courses, webinars, community forums to pose questions, and templates, toolkits and discounts.
“You get access to their membership while in the program, and I have opted to renew my membership because you get access to webinars and exclusive guidebooks to help you market in these difficult times. There is continual support, and I have found it a really worthwhile investment,” she says. “Recently, they sent out a toolkit for Google Ads, as well as trackers and planning sheets — those things are beneficial right now.”
Hjort Guiney is busy working on her website and promoting her content development work, Search Engine Optimization, and Search Engine Marketing skills. She hopes to help small businesses in her community as they look for creative ways to increase revenue and boost customer loyalty.
“To be able to work from home has been great. I’ve built my own website, and I’m building the business now,” she says. “I’m working with small businesses as they are the ones who need help the most right now.”