On being Squared

Posted by Jenni Armstrong on 09 December 2013

From the Blog of Squared Student Sassy Hicks.

Squared Online? It is all about the people…

I’m going to do my best to not get completely emotional in this blog post, but I am sticking a warning here – slap, bang, right at the start – because this could get messy. Remember Gywneth Paltrow’s cringe worthy and tear filled Oscar acceptance speech a few years ago? Yep, this could very well end up being the blogosphere’s very own version of that. Do I care? Nuck Fo. Because, having just reached the end of my ‘Squared Online’ course, I am feeling emotional – but for all the right reasons.

I loathe clichés and do my dammed best to avoid them, but studying on ‘Squared Online’ really has been like taking a wild ride on the proverbial emotional rollercoaster. Fear/ elation/ self-doubt/ success/ exhaustion/ accomplishment are feelings that I’m sure will resonate with other students from the July intake who have also just completed the course. Squared promises to instruct you about digital marketing skills but – by stealth – it also teaches you an awful lot about yourself. If you want to get the very best from this course, be prepared to confront emotions, crawl out of your comfort zone, test your limits and pick yourself up from failure.

It seems hard to believe that a course, based on digital marketing tactics, could provoke so much sentiment. But strip aside the technical aspects, the strategies and analytics; discard for a moment the infographics, data and statistics and you soon see that the course, just like digital itself, is namely about people. We may be witnessing the era of the ‘internet of things’ but ultimately the web and the marketing techniques that are used online are all about bringing people together, creating global conversations and allowing democratic and unified participation. Squared, in essence, was a microcosm of this for me and it was the people I met along the way that made it such an unforgettable and emotive experience.

The Dodo’s doing business

Being thrown together in the very first Google hangout session with a bunch of fellow students I had never met webcam to webcam before was initially a terrifying experience, but our group (nicknamed ‘The Dodo’s) soon became a united force to be reckoned with. The collaborative group work that Squared demands from its students feels akin to being the sole survivors of a shipwreck: you cling together and learn fast to utilise everyone’s unique skills and strengths to survive the choppy waters ahead. Squared is not about individual competition and being the best; it’s about being the best you can possibly be together. I will never forget the hours spent with Karolina, KD, Kevin, Mike, Silvio and Joe. They were precious moments.

 Of course, there were other key people during my Squared life too. At this point I must give massive thanks to our truly dazzling tutors – Aiden Carroll and Nick Watt. Not only are they both incredibly well informed on all aspects of digital marketing, but they are both natural entertainers that made each and every live session full of fun and humour. My petition for a ‘Nick & Aiden Show’ on the BBC starts this week. The support team at Squared are also amazing: sincere thanks to Tor, Jai, Harry and Stephen and also the wonderful Sarah Tate who conceived the idea of Squared. Special thanks (whilst I am being all Gwyneth) must also go to: Dan Cobley for helping us promote the final class assignment, my team mates in ‘Addams Family/Absolute Power’, all the superb guest speakers and to Neil Kleiner for being my new digital penpal.

Had a fangirl moment when Dan Cobley tweeted our infographic!

So what am I going to do with all this new found knowledge that’s jangling around in my head? I want to use all these new skills to bring people together and to create digital conversations for mutual benefit and maximum impact. Long term, I aim to become a Community Manager for some forward thinking company with brilliant CSR in place, or maybe I will focus on my new love for multichannel marketing or data journalism. In the short term, I am about to start teaching community journalism/digital marketing classes as part of a project here in Wales and you can bet that a lot of information I gleaned from Squared will be included! Above all, Squared taught me that digital has now made collaboration and creativity with others globally completely possible and has given me skills and friendships that will last a lifetime. Thank you Squared for everything.