Haley Sciola attained her Advanced Social Media Certificate from the University of San Francisco in June 2013. Two months later, Sciola began work as the SEO program manager for docWeb, a technology resource company based in Salem, N.H. Her duties include generating content, producing analytics reports and managing the company’s search engine optimization initiatives. Additionally, Sciola is the social media and merchandising coordinator for F/V Hard Merchandise. As part of our Student Spotlight series, we spoke with Sciola recently about her experiences in the eight-week specialized certificate program in social media, which is offered 100% online.
1. Tell us about your social media experience before registering for the certificate course.
I originally got into social media when I started working for my uncle, Captain Dave Marciano of F/V Hard Merchandise, as seen on National Geographic Channel’s tuna fishing reality series, Wicked Tuna. I started posting to his Facebook page with my cousin in early 2012 and I realized how effective this social platform was at engaging his fans and, ultimately, driving them to our website to buy our merchandise.
2. Were you able to implement what you learned in the course immediately?
Yes. I was implementing as I was learning and I appreciated how much material this course covered.
3. What made you choose to enroll in the University of San Francisco’s certificate course over other programs in the market?
It was cheaper than taking one 3-credit course at my university called Social Media Marketing. I had also researched some webinar series about social media, but I got the call from a USF representative and this certificate program seemed like it was the most in-depth.
4. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
I benefited quite a bit from the social marketing aspects presented, especially since the focus was not merely on social media, but how social media can be implemented in a solid marketing strategy. I think the title of the certificate should change from Advanced Social Media to Advanced Social Media Marketing, just because there was a lot more to it than how to make a post on Twitter, for example. Speaking of examples, I enjoyed the fact that most, if not all, of the concepts were reinforced by real examples from companies engaging in social media.
5. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
This was not the first time I took a course online, but I was surprised by how much material was available. In addition to the social media certificate, there were a few additional courses to work through, like Google AdWords and Adobe Site Catalyst. Unfortunately, I did not have time to capitalize on these extras, though I would like to learn more about them.
6. What advice would you give to others who are considering enrolling in the program?
If possible, try to apply what you’re learning as you go. For instance, I had never heard of Klout.com until this program, so after I was introduced to it, I experimented with Klout for myself to learn more about how I might personally use it in the future.
7. Do you see yourself taking additional courses and, if so, what are your areas of interest?
Yes. I will likely take other online certificate courses moving forward. I’ve been working through some webinars on web analytics and I’m hoping to learn more about search engine optimization, Google AdWords and pay-per-click (PPC), as well as HTML. I am considering taking certification courses on these topics.