This Udacity graduate followed her dreams, mapped out her journey, mastered the necessary skills, and successfully launched her own company!
For Sandra Girouard, enrolling in Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree program was a critical turning point on the journey toward building her dream career. Sandra went from being a mother and teacher, to being a first-time independent business owner, to embracing her true passion as a digital marketing consultant, helping individuals and organizations grow their businesses, and achieve their goals. She learned a great deal along the way, including the skills that ultimately made her dreams a reality.
Promoting Technology in the Classroom
Sandra began her career as an elementary school teacher in the early 1990s. Initially, she worked in a liberal arts role, but transitioned to working as the computer science teacher after the principal witnessed her early use of computers in the classroom.
She quickly became an evangelist for integrating technology into the traditional classroom environment. She began to attend tech-focused seminars and training sessions, and along the way, learned that in order to effectively encourage other teachers to adopt and utilize technology in the classroom, she would need to master some elementary marketing skills. It was an early lesson about the importance of communication in the digital age, and one that would play a pivotal role for Sandra in her not-too-distant future. Through her educational advocacy work, she discovered that helping people do things better with technology was something she deeply enjoyed.
These were important realizations for Sandra, but for the time being, her priorities were elsewhere—she elected to pause her career, and start a family with her husband.
Launching a Business
As her children grew and became more independent, she and her husband found time to start thinking anew about a dream they’d long shared—owning their own business.
Their first foray into being independent business owners was to open a B&B. It was an intensive learning experience, and among the challenges she had to overcome was mastering the then-still-new world of social media marketing. Of necessity, her transition from novice to functioning social media marketer was a quick one; before she knew it, she was even training others, as when she had to help a preferred caterer build an online presence to help support both their businesses:
“The caterer we worked with at the B&B didn’t have a website or social media presence of any kind. I tried to talk to her about it, but she just wasn’t motivated. I took a chance and just made her a website … she ended up loving it. It was a huge help—my B&B customers, and members of the public, could research her catering services, which ultimately grew her business.”
This was a transformational experience for Sandra; assisting someone with their digital presence was unforgettably rewarding, and it both recalled her earlier experiences in education, and pointed the way to a new future.
Mastering New Career-Ready Skills
Sandra and her husband moved on from the B&B business, but the experience she’d had with the caterer continued to resonate with her. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became that digital marketing represented a plausible business opportunity. There was a problem though: she didn’t yet have the relevant skills and knowledge to make it happen. So she began searching for a solution. As it turned out, she already knew the answer!
As a homeschooler, she was already familiar with Udacity, because she’d enrolled her eldest son in the Intro to Programming Nanodegree program. As fate would have it, Sandra received an email offering a free preview of our Digital Marketing Nanodegree program—she was immediately intrigued. She explored the preview, and discovered that the course content and projects included email campaigns, Google AdWords tests, and Facebook campaigns—everything she needed to know to launch the business she’d been dreaming of!
“I quickly realized after enrolling in the course that this was an investment in not only my business, but myself, in building my own skillset with leading industry platforms.”
Submitting her first project was an eye-opening experience:
“Frankly, my age was a factor in my project submissions. I was functioning under this old school idea of ‘you only get one shot to submit a project’. Once I realized this was not the case, I began to excel. Udacity helped me overcome a sense of uncertainty about my own work.”
Launching A Company and Achieving a Dream
Sandra successfully graduated from the program, and she and her husband subsequently launched their new company, Pecan Media Services. Their slogan? Taking the mystery out of marketing!
“Our clients have this notion that they need to be online, but they aren’t sure of how to go about it, and are generally timid. With my new skills, I am able to create a custom, clear and actionable plan that shows them how their business will grow with the appropriate spend. It really takes a lot of fear out of the process!”
Pecan Media Services is growing. They are serving a variety of clients with multiple services. They are helping a new author build visibility in support of a pending book launch. They are assisting a residential solar company with email campaigns, online review management, and engagement optimization for their website. Across the board, Sandra is using her new knowledge and skills to coach clients on digital marketing best practices, and how to leverage digital marketing to improve business results.
Sandra found her passion in helping others grow their business through digital marketing. We are honored to have helped her learn and master the skills she needed to make her dream a reality.
Cheers to you Sandra, for always looking to achieve something new, and following your dreams We can’t wait to hear how Pecan Media Services grows!