On my first day of preschool, I brought a shiny new lunchbox filled with homemade chicken wings. I feasted like a king while my peers shoved PB&J sandwiches up their noses.
The teacher confiscated my discarded chicken bones and put them in a baggy. “Children might choke on these sharp bones,” she told my mama. “Chicken wings are not allowed at lunchtime.”
Mama lost faith in the American education system that day.
I used to say, “I want to be a chef when I grow up.” Why? Because my mama trained me to love food. She almost fought a teacher to defend my unalienable right to eat wings.
The chef dream didn’t last. Like most kids, I changed career plans on a quarterly basis. Airplane pilot, accountant, novelist, LEGO master builder, Kung-Fu movie star…
When I started college, I pursued a teaching certificate in the UTeach program while volunteering as a SEAL reading buddy. Why did I want to become a teacher even though I wasn’t particularly fond of the one I had in preschool?
Because kids are hilarious…
… and kids are wicked smart.
I teach them how to read…
… because literacy empowers students to dream big.
I love simplifying technical nightmares like this…
… into something that sticks.
Teachers are responsible for keeping students disciplined, inspired, and up to academic standards. But all-star teachers don’t blindly preach from state-mandated textbooks. They understand who their students are before crafting effective lesson plans that engage and inform.
However, I eventually transferred to the business school. I fell in love with marketing because it’s constantly evolving, requires both creativity and strategy, and has many parallels with education. A marketer’s customer is like a teacher’s student. A marketer’s product is like a teacher’s lesson plan. A marketer’s message is like a teacher’s delivery style.
If you truly understand your (customer/student), you can develop an amazing (product/lesson plan) and communicate it with a (message/delivery style) that resonates.
For example, Apple understood that people really like taking pictures of themselves. In 2015, 1000 selfies were posted on Instagram every 10 seconds and 74% of all images shared on Snapchat were selfies.
In 2016, Apple developed Portrait Mode for their already amazing iPhone camera. In 2017, they brought Portrait Mode to the front facing, selfie camera.
They communicated this game-changing feature in a commercial that showcased its benefits and told a story.
Good teachers and marketers have empathy, ingenuity, and killer communication skills. The two professions certainly have different priorities and outcomes, but I’m having a lot of fun in both worlds, especially as they evolve with technology.
For marketers, artificial intelligence is simplifying graphic design.
Big data reveals user insights that can lead to fresh creative.
And even smart home devices are becoming advertising channels.
Technology is shaping education too. At my high school, chalkboards were replaced with electronic SMART Boards.
Students can watch Khan Academy videos online or go on a virtual reality tour of Pakistan.
And busy teenagers can learn drivers ed on their smartphones while waiting for the school bus.
I love education, marketing, and technology because they are driving forces of change that are constantly changing. Success leads to confident students, satisfied customers, and smarter solutions. Achieving any of those three sounds good to me.
This semester, I’m the content marketing intern at two ed–tech companies (Aceable and PenPal Schools) and I continue to read with kiddos through SEAL. After graduation, I begin my full-time role as marketing analyst at a small food company called Frito-Lay.
I may not be a chef, but I think I’m living the dream.