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Navigating the digital marketing landscape: UMN’s Digital Marketing Boot Camp

The College of Continuing and Professional Studies’ Digital Marketing Boot Camp offers professionals a crash course in the foundations of digital marketing.
Image by Ava Weinreis
UMN boot camp classes started this week on Monday.

The University of Minnesota’s boot camps, offered through the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) in partnership with the online learning platform edX, started a new session of classes on Monday.

The boot camp programs were launched at the University with a general web development program in 2017. In Fall 2021, the program expanded to include five different specialized programs including a digital marketing boot camp. 

The digital marketing boot camp is an 18-week part-time program that aims to equip students with fundamental industry skills and a professional certification, according to its website

In a 2021 study, Gallup found one year after graduation, the median salary for the 4,000 edX boot camp graduates surveyed was $11,000 higher than when they were attending boot camp. Of the graduates employed full-time both years, median salaries rose from approximately $59,000 during the boot camp to $70,000 after boot camp. 

“In the face of a global tech talent shortage, edX boot camps bring great non-profit universities and employers to the table to give thousands of working adults from all over the world the skills and tools they need to succeed in the digital economy,” an edX 2U spokesperson said in an email statement to The Minnesota Daily. 

CCAPS director Ryan Torma said while digital marketing is an expanding field with many degree and certification programs, the University’s boot camps distinguish themselves by prioritizing a balance between affordability, time and skill expansion.

The program is continuously expanding, according to Torma. It doubled in size from 50 graduating students in the 2021-22 academic year to 105 the following year. 

According to Torma, course instructors are typically working professionals with extensive experience in the field.

“We’re really focused on people who have real-world experience in the space,” Torma said.

In an email statement to The Daily, CCAPS said students are encouraged to take advantage of work opportunities by participating in paid micro-internships, either during the program or shortly after graduation.

According to CCAPS, these micro-internships offer students and recent graduates an opportunity to apply their learning, showcase their skills to potential employers and enhance their project portfolios.

Lori Shannon, a digital marketing boot camp instructor, said having over 20 years of experience as a professional in digital marketing helps her keep up with emerging trends in the field, benefitting her students.

“That’s the thing with digital marketing, it is always changing,” Shannon said.” Just because you know how to do something at Google or Facebook now, six months from now, they’re going to make it all different.” 

Although the program does not have time to dive into specialized areas of digital marketing, Shannon said it focuses on providing students with a broad understanding and introductory exposure to a variety of components.

Shannon said the boot camp emphasizes developing skills in website design using platforms like WordPress, ad creation through Google ads and social media marketing strategies.

Each boot camp cohort has its own instructor and TA, according to Shannon. When a section begins, the cohort of students works through a series of online modules guided by an instructor.

Although students in the program come from various backgrounds and experience levels in marketing, Shannon said it is structured to accommodate even those without experience.

“What I really appreciate about these kinds of cohorts is that everybody comes with their own skills and experience,” Shannon said. “It’s so important to learn from each other, I find it really valuable.”

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