A year ago while starting the dreaded job search, I realised that to get my foot in the digital door, I needed to offer more to a company than just an honours degree and a year or so of experience. After searching for some motivation to get my mind thinking creatively again and to keep me in the loop with digital trends, I stumbled on the Google Squared online course (and quickly stumbled off again when I saw the price of the course!). But then, up popped an advert that they were accepting scholarship students for the next cohort of the course. I clicked, I applied, and swiftly forgot about it.
Two months later, an email popped into my inbox saying that I had been accepted for a scholarship on the May cohort of the course – cue a panicked trip to Paperchase for new notebooks and pens (everyone knows they are essentials for excelling on any course).
Google Squared is an online course created and supported by Google, with five modules that span a variety of digital topics – from disruptive technologies, to business planning, delving into the deep dark depths of Google Analytics and planning marketing strategies allowing you to learn through a hands on approach. Throughout the course, the topic of leadership is weaved into each module and explored in great detail to demonstrate how leadership qualities in the digital industry are essential when working, especially in an agency environment.
Anyone can do it – I’ve met people who currently work in digital and are just looking to broaden their skills, people who have had no experience of marketing or digital at all, people who have their own business and are looking to promote it themselves, or people who are in a totally different line of work.
The course modules are split into three or four areas, covering different aspects of the topic and split into pre and post class activities, a weekly live class with an expert speaker and any group work required. Each module ends with a project or assessment – one is done individually and the rest involve virtual collaboration with other Squared students from across the globe. This poses challenges of its own; dealing with timezone differences, reliability issues and language barriers, but ultimately teaches you a lot about working as a team and especially working in an agency environment that may require working with clients from around the globe.
Two of the biggest projects within the course that require this style of group work include creating a proposal and pitch for a business idea. Secondly, the group have to develop a strong marketing and brand strategy for a fictional energy drink. Working in this style allows you to throw in your own ideas, try your hand at something you’re inexperienced in and learn from the other 4-6 members of your group who come from all backgrounds and career paths.
Perhaps the only downside to the course is the speed at which content is worked through. Each module is around 4 weeks long, with one of those weeks being a study week to complete project work and catch up on classes. Three weeks are left to cover these massive topics that realistically, could be stretched out to be full 12-week university modules. To succeed and really get the most out of it (and your money), you really need to be willing to put the extra time in, work long hours and explore around the topic in your own time.
It’s also pricey without a scholarship and the hours are occasionally difficult to juggle with everything else in your life, but ultimately I would say it’s worth it.
Don’t expect to come out of it being an expert. You really do only get what you put in – and you need to put a lot in to get a lot out. However I’ve met some great people, learnt a lot, found passions for areas of digital I never knew existed and (I like to think) landed a pretty good job out of it all (thanks, Whitewall!).
Find out More
To find out more about Squared Online, click here. Scholarships are available to individuals who have a 2:1 degree or above from the last two years and are not currently working in a marketing or advertising role. The price of the course for self-funded students is £2,098.80 (inc. VAT) or for employer-funded students, £1,749 (ex. VAT). You’ll still need a 2:1 degree or above or three or more years’ work experience. Ideally this would be in marketing or digital or a level four marketing qualification such as the CIM Professional Certificate in Marketing, or simply be able to demonstrate “the mindset to become an agent of change”.
If you’re not convinced yet, do bear in mind that you do qualify as a fully-fledged student for the duration, so therefore qualify for an NUS card – perfect for discount on all those Paperchase notebooks you’ll need!
Kristen Wood – Digital Content Co-ordinator