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UD graduates re-enroll in PCS non-credit programs

Photo courtesy of Lauren Conforti | Artwork by Cindy Dolan

Not knowing what she wanted to do with her life was a key factor in Lauren Conforti’s decision to enroll at the University of Delaware as an undergraduate in 2015. Five years later, she re-enrolled at UD as a continuing education student because she knew exactly what she wanted to do, how she wanted to do it, and with which provider she wanted to do it.

Originally from East Hanover, New Jersey, Conforti said she was aware of the university’s strong reputation and found it had an attractive campus with friendly people when she visited as a high school student.

“It’s a good starting point for people who may not be sure what they want to pursue because there are so many options and avenues to explore,” Conforti said. “I’m glad I chose the University of Delaware. It was a good playground to take different courses.

Conforti’s classes led her to a bachelor’s degree in English in 2019. As an undergraduate student, she gained valuable experience outside of the classroom by participating in various activities, including as an ambassador from UD social media. In this role, for which she was honored to have been cast, she shared her experiences at UD with other prospective students on Twitter and Instagram.

Back to UD from afar

After graduating, Conforti moved back to New Jersey and continued to improve her social media skills through several part-time jobs. Seeking to further develop her skills and build her credentials in an online program, she “returned” to her alma mater in the fall of 2020 as a virtual student in the Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing certificate program offered by the Division of Professional at the University of Delaware. and continuing studies (UD PCS). The course introduces the skills needed to use social media to develop and expand brand awareness, increase visibility, engage current and potential customers, cultivate brand ambassadors, win new customers, promote growth and support organizational goals.

“The virtual format was great, and I couldn’t have imagined it being in person because the nature of social media work is completely online,” Conforti said. “It was always personal and focused, and I always joined Zoom’s office hours.”

UD name recognition

Although there were many organizations offering social media training, it didn’t take long for her to decide that UD would be the best option for her.

“Some people are touting professional development in places I’ve never heard of,” Conforti said. “If it takes time, money and energy, I want it to be at the school I trust.”

Shortly after completing the Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing certificate program, Conforti began a full-time position with 240 Tutoring, a Texas-based company that offers online study guides to help teachers prepare for certification exams. Initially hired as a Customer Service Agent, she quickly leveraged her newly acquired knowledge from the UD PCS Foundation Course to transition into 240 Tutoring’s first position devoted solely to social media. Her title from Social Media Coordinator was recently changed to Social Media and Community Manager to more accurately reflect the scope of her role. Working remotely from New Jersey for 240 Tutoring, she creates content for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter and oversees five exam-specific Facebook groups.

Building on the confidence she gained from the foundation course and the desire to excel in her new job, Conforti participated in the Spring 2022 offering of the UD PCS Advanced Social Media Marketing for Business Certificate program. She was eager to take a second class taught by Nancy Dibert, Program Director and Instructor of the UD PCS Social Media Marketing Program and CEO of EPIC Marketing Consultants.

“Nancy was great and always available,” Conforti said. “We spoke on the phone several times, and she was a big selling point for me to do the second program.”

Participants in the advanced online course master the skills needed to drive engagement through targeted and innovative social media marketing campaigns, gaining first-hand experience with industry-standard tools such as Sprout Social and Rival IQ. While the foundational class made Conforti a stronger candidate for the job, the advanced class allowed her to immediately apply what she was learning for the benefit of her employer.

“For my assignments, I was messaging Nancy for my company’s live social media,” Conforti said. “It was real life. I took her honest feedback and incorporated it into my current role. There’s no price tag on it. She was a mentor who helped me no only to improve my professional development but also the development of my company.

Committed to lifelong learning

Rather than waiting to be established professionally, Conforti felt it was important to engage in learning throughout her career and has no intention of slowing down.

“It’s kind of who I am; I’m still learning,” Conforti said. “I am very adamant about lifelong learning for everyone, regardless of their field of activity and their interests. As soon as you stop learning about new features, updates, and industry news, you’re essentially out of the game. You have to keep learning and keep moving, and UD helped me keep going after I graduated.

Courses open for registration

The fall session of UD’s Advanced Social Media Marketing for Business Certificate program begins on September 6. The Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing certificate is being converted into a self-paced program that students can start at any time. Discounts are available for both courses. For more information, visit pcs.udel.edu/socialmedia, email continuing-ed@udel.edu, or call 302-831-7600.

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