Nearly three years ago, I graduated from a small historically black university (HBCU) in Austin, TX, Huston-Tillotson University. As a true born Austinite, when mentioning my alma mater I am often met with the same look you don’t know you’re giving when you look up at the McDonald’s lobby menu. They either never heard of it, or thought it was in Houston.
It’s actually in Austin, and it’s got some history for you! Some might think the University of Texas at Austin is the oldest institute in the city, but actually, Huston-Tillotson University is. Established in 1875, HTU is the first institution of higher learning in Austin, Texas.
After four years of paying elaborate dues to the university, I earned my bachelor’s degree in communication. However, after graduating I was thrown off when potential employers kept telling me the same thing but on a different day.
“You need more experience…”
“Your experience is not good enough…”
*Notices how handsome and well-spoken I actually am* “Let’s have you host and talk to every person in the company…”
And you know what my mental reaction would be?
Where? Who? Why? No, ma’am.
Mama didn’t raise not one fool, though, I’ll tell you that much.
Nonetheless, after living beyond my already absent means and hoping the funds would somehow catch up I knew something needed to change. In the back of my mind, I knew in order to do what I wanted to do, I’d have to do what I didn’t want to do, at least for a bit. And everyone who knew and knows me knows that I thrive best in a space where I have creative freedom, versus working menial jobs in simulated friendly work environments.
Hitting rock bottom and seeming to have no one to turn to really hurt like hell, which led me to accept roles that weren’t necessarily perfect but were a nice compromise. I can do compromise. My professional experiences increased the more I compromised. With my goals in mind, I realized I should increase my education in order to do the things I want to do.
Seek free education, it is out there
I sought employers who offered some type of education or certifications in my field because going back to graduate school was annoying and just in the way of my daily life. Lord knows I wanted a graduate degree, but I knew I didn’t need it to get to my finish line.
No, not another bachelor’s degree, but continued education like CPR, First Aid, Anti-Corruption, Confidentiality, Email Marketing, Search Marketing, and Paid Traffic to name a few. You know, education that can solidify my skills in a field that makes me a go-to person for people who are not.
Some people don’t have CPR + First Aid certification, which you should get. You can assist the doctor who helps the random epileptic, like me, who decides to have an episode in public.
DigitalMarketer gave me wings, not Red Bull
It might seem tedious and commonplace to work fast food and retail jobs. And, it probably is if you have no goals in life. Growing up in east Austin, you know, the part that will probably be completely renovated by 2020, I was surrounded by fools and low-budget technology. I needed help.
Mama went ahead and enrolled us in schools across town so we’d get the best education for the dollar she didn’t have to pay just yet. However, when I turned 17 I chose to attend HTU so I could study communication & creative writing and have profound fun doing it. I didn’t realize that after earning my degree I felt I could benefit from more education to be able to be recognized as credible and to be able to manage around the constantly changing digital communications landscape.
After three years of working temporary and part-time jobs, DigitalMarketer rescued me from my role on the team I worked with at Facebook Austin. When I joined the team at DM, I was exposed to so much of what I longed for in employers. At DigitalMarketer, management is awesome and approachable and I can’t help but gawk when they’re speaking. They know what the heck they’re talking about, and they treat people with kindness.
Today, with four meaningful certifications in under just three months, I call this place a haven because it offers the continued education I desired.