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  • Donna Curry

Alumni Spotlight: A Lifeline for Learners

This DCE Alumna lost her marketing job due to COVID-19, but a program called WIOA helped get her a partner marketing position supporting a major tech company.

Summer 2021

Donna Curry was well established in her marketing career at the start of 2020, working for a start-up based in Portugal, splitting time traveling between the home office and its San Francisco branch. Then COVID-19 began its relentless march across the globe, and her position, like so many others, became a victim of pandemic downsizing.

“At first it was a welcome break from my work, at least for a couple months,” she said. “I tried to stay as active as possible and take advantage of the downtime, but everything was locked down so I really couldn’t do much.”

Donna felt it was a perfect opportunity to burnish her resume and prepare for her next career move, so she sought assistance from local career workshops. She struck gold at NOVAworks Job Center in Sunnyvale where she found a wealth of resources, from resume preparation to job hunting tools.

Since it was an authorized One Stop Center, she learned of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), a program that offers educational grants for disadvantaged or displaced workers who qualify through their local EDD office. It turned out to be a welcome lifeline – and a career turning point that led her to UCI and a new job with a staffing agency where she is supporting Google.

“I learned about WIOA grants through a career and training advisor at NOVAworks,” she said. “It was the right opportunity at the right time. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to update my skill set. I had a lot of on-the-job training and experience with digital marketing, but I was looking for a formal program to round out my education, provide opportunities to add to my portfolio and bring my skill set up to date.”

“UCI has a great reputation, so it was one of my top choices. After researching the Digital Marketing & Communications program, I was impressed with the class offerings and streamlined curriculum.” Donna Curry, Digital Marketing & Communications certificate graduate

Getting a fresh start

The NOVAworks advisor was extremely helpful with the rigorous application process, as well as scouting the right university marketing programs for Donna’s needs.

“NOVAworks is a fabulous organization,” she said. “Without it, I would have missed out on this amazing opportunity. They explained all my options and helped with all the WIOA paperwork. It’s a very generous program. The grant paid for tuition, fees and required textbooks.”

After considering her options, Donna decided that the UCI Digital Marketing & Communications certificate program offered all the tools she needed to round out her resume and gain a new set of skills. Its leading-edge online courses allowed her to complete the program from her Bay Area home, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

“UCI has a great reputation, so it was one of my top choices,” she said. “After researching the Digital Marketing & Communications program, I was impressed with the class offerings and streamlined curriculum. Even though I had some experience in digital marketing, I wanted end-to-end formal training, with hands-on lessons from professionals.”

Her DCE program was an important step forward for Donna, and it had an immediate impact on her career. Shortly after updating her LinkedIn profile, she attracted the interest of Artech, a staffing agency that specializes in partnerships with Fortune 500 and government clients.

A recruiter got in touch and set her on a path to a marketing position at Google. Donna started her new job back in January, a month before she graduated from the DCE program on February 14th. She considered it a perfect Valentine’s present.

“The story of how I landed the role is interesting,” she said. “I had updated my LinkedIn profile noting I was enrolled in the UCI Digital Marketing and Communications program, and I uploaded one of my class projects. Shortly afterward, an Artech recruiter reached out to me about a partner marketing opportunity. I interviewed and received an offer within a few weeks. I was quite excited and very happy to be returning to work, especially at Google.”

Assistance for a career relaunch

The DCE Digital Marketing & Communications program is mainly intended for marketing, communication and product management professionals who want to master the latest digital tools and take their careers to the next level. Students are presented with leading-edge training in writing, design and analytics, addressing strategies that leverage the latest advancements in personal and mobile computing.

Taught by industry experts, the program also provides an overview of how new developments in artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality can connect businesses with customers and shape marketing strategies.

“The instructors are so experienced and helpful, and the projects allowed me to get hands-on experience with the latest digital marketing tools,” she said. “But one of the best aspects of the program was being able to work and collaborate with such a smart and diverse group of students from all over the country. Being based in San Francisco, it gave me an opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have access to.”

Donna quickly settled into her new position, working from home like all of Google’s workforce, at least for now. “Onsite work is projected to start up in September,” she said. “It’s very exciting to be supporting the Google partner marketing team, and the opportunity to put my UCI digital marketing training to work.” In her free time, Donna manages to do voiceover work – audiobooks, PSAs and other projects – and volunteers for animal rescue and community projects in her area. Even with travel restrictions in place, she has maintained an active outdoor lifestyle, kayaking and hiking without straying too far from home.

But when the global lockdown is finally over, she has big plans to take some time off and get out of town.

“I love to travel, and my passport shows 44 countries and counting,” she said. “After my previous job was downsized, I had all this free time but, like everyone else, I wasn’t able to go anywhere. Now I’m looking forward to when we all can travel safely again.”

Learn more about the Digital Marketing & Communications certificate program and training opportunities from the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA).