Digital Marketing Skills Give Journalist a New Angle on Her Career

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Armed with an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Lauren decided to add digital marketing skills to her tool-kit to make herself even more competitive. Now, Lauren works for Aha! leading their content strategy and marketing.

Follow Lauren on Twitter: @laurenmaffeo

What brought you to General Assembly?

My first GA event was a networking party in July of 2012. At the time, I was writing my MSc dissertation, but I consider that party my first introduction to the global startup scene. Prior to that evening, I had never considered joining a tech company.

From there, I continued to network, pursue new projects and attend occasional workshops at GA’s London campus. In January 2013, I got an email about GA’s Spring 2013 Digital Marketing course. I knew the quality of GA’s courses, so I decided to pursue it.

Tell me about Aha! and how you ended up at the company.

I first heard about Aha! on LinkedIn. In the fall of 2014, our CEO’s articles on leadership, management, and career advice started appearing in my emails from LinkedIn. His advice resonated on a personal level, and after months of reading his work, I saw that Aha! was hiring a content specialist.

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg talks about how Eric Schmidt convinced her to join Google. “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat,” he told her, “You just get on.” The Aha! job description read, “We are looking for a forward-leaning marketing content specialist who wants to reach an established global audience — and jump on a rocket.” I don’t believe in coincidence.

Why leave journalism for digital marketing?

I have always loved reading, writing, and storytelling. Growing up, I saw a news career as my path to do those for a living. Upon graduating from LSE, I worked as a contributing writer for The Next Web, The Guardian, Mic, and more. One of my articles for The Guardian was even cited in The Atlantic—my favorite magazine—which was an incredible honor.

At the same time, it’s no secret that the news business is on shaky ground. After graduating, I realized quickly that if I wanted to do what I love for a living, I needed to gain a more business savvy skill set. I needed to understand the value of my writing, and how it could impact a growing business.

What have you learned about yourself over the past year?

I have learned a lot about how I work and what I value. Aha! is based in Menlo Park, CA, but I work for them from Washington, D.C. I was not convinced that I would like remote working. And I don’t—I love it.

The fact that I can give up commuting, work from anywhere, and be judged by results rather than office hours has been life changing. I’m more productive, well rested, and satisfied than ever. I’ve learned that you don’t need to sit next to your boss to collaborate with them. I don’t have to sacrifice time with loved ones at the expense of my career, and vice versa. This freedom is a luxury right now, but I believe it will become the norm over the next few years.

Any advice for job-seeking Digital Marketers?

I’m an Alumni Advisor for GA. When I speak to GA students and graduates, the advice I give is to be confident in what you do well, but adaptable about how you do it. Digital Marketing is such a vast field that is growing so quickly. Most likely, you can find a niche—whether it’s content, online advertising, user acquisition, etc.—that allows you to use skills that you love. And because the industry is so new, you can quickly build your own career path.

Learn More About Digital Marketing at GA

Brianna Plaza is a Email Marketing Producer at General Assembly. As an alumna, she conducts interviews with her peers to capture success stories from around the world.

Disclaimer: General Assembly referred to their Bootcamps and Short Courses as “Immersive” and “Part-time” courses respectfully and you may see that reference in posts prior to 2023.