Learner Uses Digital Marketing Certificate Program to Transition Into the Virtual Event Space

Wharton online digital marketing certificate program learner Kirsten Gooden

As an event producer and brand manager for a DC-based event production company, Kirsten Gooden played a key role in marketing her company’s transition from the in-person to virtual event space. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic prompted work-from-home scenarios, one of Kirsten’s 2020 goals was to take professional development courses. Her father was a big proponent of this and, having completed a Wharton program himself, prompted her to explore our offerings.

Driven by her desire to keep learning and help her company—as well as her clients—navigate the digital space, she decided to enroll in our Digital Marketing Certificate Program.

Ready to Expand Her Digital Marketing Skills

Pre-pandemic, Kirsten’s company RJ Whyte Event Production planned large, in-person events like award ceremonies and fundraisers. That changed when COVID-19 hit. In the last year, Kirsten has helped RJ Whyte produce nearly 60 virtual events ranging from intimate fireside chats to internationally broadcasted galas.

“Moving into the virtual event space caused us to rethink almost everything about our materials, website, and social media,” she says. “As RJ Whyte’s Brand Manager, it was my responsibility to ensure that these updates and new pieces of content became an extension of our brand.”

Developing her digital marketing skills was crucial.

“I was spending a lot of my time thinking through our company’s marketing plan but also about the marketing plan for each of our client’s virtual events,” Kirsten says. “That’s when I knew I needed a better understanding of digital marketing.”

A Comprehensive, Flexible Program

Kirsten has more than five years of event management, congressional relations, and nonprofit experience, but she didn’t study marketing or communications in college. Since she was self-taught, it was important for her to find a formal program that covered foundational elements of digital vs. traditional marketing

She was impressed with Wharton Online’s comprehensive, four-course program.

“The four courses covered everything from the building blocks of and psychology behind marketing to social media and analytics,” Kirsten says. “Taking classes from professors who are experts in the field was something I never thought possible, but Wharton Online made it happen.”

She also appreciated how flexible the Digital Marketing Certificate Program was, especially during her busy season when she had about 15 events to plan in one month. 

“One thing I loved about the program was that there weren’t any time constraints,” Kirsten explains. “When my job needed all of my focus, I could pause my studies with Wharton knowing I could pick up where I left off after busy season.”

Applicable Insights and Deeper Understanding

“I was able to take what I learned in my courses and immediately put it to use,” Kirsten says.

Since content creation is a huge part of her job, one of her favorite courses in the Digital Marketing Certificate Program was “Selling Ideas: How to Influence Others, and Get Your Message to Catch On.” 

“That course by far has been the most helpful in making me rethink our marketing calendar and what we’re putting out to the public on our social media channels,” she says. “Learning the psychology behind what draws people to a message and makes ideas stick was really eye opening and helpful.” 

“For example, a main focus of mine has been to grow our followers and new business through social media,” Kirsten explains. “Now I make sure our posts and stories get people’s attention, ask questions, and get them thinking. Instead of just posting a pretty picture with a nice caption, I make sure the posts encourage interaction with our followers and potential new clients.”

Kirsten was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed “Marketing Analytics: Data Tools and Techniques,” a course she took first just to get it out of the way. 

“I expected not to like the course because it’s something that I wasn’t interested in and always found a little bit difficult,” she says. “It was actually super helpful and surprisingly interesting.”

The course helped her develop a stronger understanding of data and analytics. She says this has been useful because you can’t really use marketing and social media statistics unless you know how to interpret them.

Like Father, Like Daughter: Committed to Growth

Kirsten says professional and personal development are important to her because of her father. Since her first job, he’s been giving her books about leadership and encouraging her to keep learning.

“This definitely comes from my dad,” she says. “I don’t think you can be a good leader unless you keep growing. And the best way to do that is to continue taking classes, reading books, listening to podcasts, and talking with others.”

“As a busy professional, the Digital Marketing Certificate Program was so worthwhile because I could learn at my own pace and go back to revisit things I didn’t fully understand,” Kirsten says. “Having the flexibility to study around my full-time job schedule was also beyond helpful.”

“All in all, it was a great experience. I’m really grateful for the program because I feel like I learned a lot and have been able to put it to good use. I would definitely recommend it to people who are interested in growing their digital marketing knowledge,” she says.

When Kirsten finished the program, her dad said, “Great. So, which one are you gonna take next?”

Learn More About Our Digital Marketing Certificate Program Today

Are you interested in expanding your digital marketing skills and learning from top professors? Wharton Online’s Digital Marketing Certificate Program can help. This 100% online program allows you to learn at your own pace—from anywhere in the world. Learn more about the certificate program, or enroll today.