LaNedra Brown, graduate of the iDiverse Digital Advertising Program at the College of San Mateo, shares her insights into the program and its importance for interactive media and advertising companies.
As a professional basketball player with an international career spanning eleven years and four continents, working effectively with a rainbow of people from every corner of the globe was an essential element of success. Having teammates from radically different backgrounds helped me learn and grow by having to communicate with people who aren’t like me in new situations and have deeply-held assumptions challenged. As a result, I built strong cross-cultural awareness, empathy, and resilience — skills that I apply to all aspects of my life.
The same dynamics apply to interactive media and advertising companies, where success is largely defined by the ability to channel storytelling that transcends differences, capture the imagination of diverse audiences, and tap into universal truths.
Early in 2016, I learned about the Digital Advertising Program at the College of San Mateo, as part of iDiverse, a diversity initiative led by the IAB Education Foundation. Given my interest in digital media—and upcoming entry into the job market upon earning my MBA this spring—I jumped at the chance to apply and learn more about digital advertising and marketing.
The program covered fundamental skills of the digital media economy, including campaign planning, execution, and analysis for media buying, selling, programmatic, ad operations, data solutions, and marketing. Sessions on “softer” skills such as customer service and building effective teams filled in additional holes often left by even the best academic programs.
Walking through the nuts and bolts of live campaigns reinforced the skill foundations, preparing me and my fellow students to hit the ground running in entry-level ad ops positions. One of the themes of the class was building skills that transcend silos, helping each of us broaden our competencies to prepare for the cross-functional teams of the future.
Participating in the iDiverse Digital Advertising Program helped me land my current position, as social media and marketing director for the MBA program at Holy Names University. I’ve applied so many of the skills gained from iDiverse, from helping build a full circle marketing approach to promoting the school’s brand and attracting and retaining new students. By applying a few basic audience analysis metrics and a more comprehensive social media outreach strategy, we’ve been able to significantly improve engagement and build a larger qualified pipeline of potential students in just a few months.
When our class gathered to celebrate graduation from the program, we reflected on the fact that the program came along at a time when we were all searching for something different. The students in the class resembled America today, representing a rainbow of colors, ages, and backgrounds. Some of us were young students or recent graduates looking to land their first professional gig, while others were simply seeking to modernize their skill set. The class had several international students who were respected professionals back home, but found themselves facing obstacles to obtaining even entry-level positions in the Silicon Valley.
By offering these training and certification programs, iDiverse is developing a pipeline of qualified and diverse talent to fill 10,000 jobs by the year 2020 while enlisting over 200 digital companies to commit and hire diverse candidates. Scheduled follow-ups with career counselors and one-on-one recruiting interviews will try to match program graduates with entry-level openings at IAB member companies. The post-program placement assistance will serve the additional goal to help close the substantial skills gap in the digital media industry, creating a classic win-win scenario.
Diversity is the reality of our world, but not the reality of our workplaces. It’s exciting and heartening to see programs like iDiverse step up and help fill that gap.
LaNedra Brown is the social media and marketing director for the MBA program at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA, where she expects to earn her MBA in spring 2017. She graduated from the first class of the iDiverse Digital Advertising Program at the College of San Mateo in December 2016 and she obtained her Digital Advertising Foundations Certification in January 2017. LaNedra Brown is a graduate of the IAB Digital Advertising Certification program that prepares students for entry-level jobs in the digital media and marketing industry. She is currently pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and Management Leadership at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA, where she expects to graduate in Spring 2017. Passionate about all things tech, she is seeking opportunities within the digital industry where she can apply her experience and interest in digital marketing, social media management, and sales operations.
Outside the classroom, LaNedra uses her 10 years of professional athletic experience to train and condition young athletes in the Bay Area as founder and head trainer at LaB Works Training.
LaNedra holds a BS in Business Finance with a minor in Communications from Seton Hall University. ____________________________________________________________________
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