Here’s the cover letter for my application to be a part-time adjunct marketing instructor at Diablo Valley College (DVC). In essence, I’m doing this because I’ve really enjoyed every opportunity I’ve had to speak, volunteer, and recruit at DVC. Prior to reaching out to a professor there just over a year ago, I didn’t know what community colleges were all about. I didn’t know what types of students went there, what classes they took, and what gap in the education market these schools filled.
Now that I have a better understanding, I’m all about it. DVC is both a vocational school and a feeder to four-year colleges. They serve veterans, adults, and underprivileged high schoolers. They are firmly rooted in the communities where they teach. Since I’m committed to living in the Diablo Valley (that’s Walnut Creek, Concord, Martinez, and surrounding cities) long-term, getting involved with my local community college makes sense. It also happens that DVC has some really good programs already brewing.
The role I’m applying for is part of a new digital marketing certificate program. Its objective is to help people in the Diablo area take advantage of the tech sector jobs that will inevitably move this way. It’s smart, and it took the faculty and staff here just under two years (lightning fast, by most standards!) to get the program approved and funded. I think this is exactly what a community college 20 miles from San Francisco should be doing.
In addition, I’d like to see DVC start to offer these courses too:
- Technology sales: basics of CRM, contracts, sales writing, commissions, account-based marketing.
- Ruby on Rails bootcamp: basics of web app development, relational databases, web hosting, front-end frameworks, HTML and CSS
- Advanced Excel: pivot tables, VLOOKUP, table cleansing, table summaries
These are all practical skills that are highly desirable in this geographical area. If tech companies knew that there were relatively inexpensive (livable wage, but not crazy SF salaries) employees, hungry for jobs, eager to please, no sense of entitlement (the opposite, in fact) then the employers and the jobs would come running.
That’s my thesis, but it’s a long way from getting proven out. The next step for me is to get further involved by becoming a DVC instructor.
To Whom It May Concern:
A little over one year ago I reached out to Professor Charlie Shi about my interest in speaking with DVC students about entrepreneurship. We met in his office and then over lunch. I brought with me a copy of my recent book, The Parallel Entrepreneur, and we talked about the decade I’ve spent as a founder, CEO, and General Manager within a private equity firm.
He invited me to speak in one class, and then another, and then he introduced me to other professors at DVC who also invited me to speak, and then Charlie invited me to join the Business Administration Department Advisory Board. From there I became involved with the Diablo Valley Tech Initiative led by Professor Jim Blair. Delightfully, one opportunity has led to another, and I’m very pleased that this sequence of events has led here, to my application to be an adjunct instructor at the college.
I believe digital marketing is the underpinning of success for entrepreneurship today. Product is rapidly being commoditized; it has never been cheaper to create a web application. What sets companies and employees apart is their understanding of marketing fundamentals. The best founders think about their marketing strategy from day one; the most marketable employees approach their job interviews and daily tasks with the same marketing-oriented perspective.
For the DVC community to be prepared to take advantage of the Bay Area’s tech sector, it must teach a deep understanding of digital marketing and, I’d argue, its down-funnel partner, sales. It all starts with the top of the funnel, though. Email, social, search engine, content marketing, must be taught. I strongly believe that if the technology sector sees well-trained marketing students graduating from DVC, they will enthusiastically hire them and open local offices, bringing more jobs to the Diablo Valley. Every tech startup hiring manager I know is looking for talented marketers.
So that’s my rationale for being interested in this position. Here’s how I can help.
I have been working in technology since I graduated with my MBA from MIT Sloan in 2009. The first company I started was Scripted.com, a content marketing marketplace. I was immersed in everything about content marketing, even becoming friends with Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute. Having seen it from all sides, working with hundreds of clients and producing (literally) hundreds of thousands of content marketing documents, I know this field well.
Along the way, we had to run our own digital marketing campaigns of various kinds. We did huge email campaigns. We spent over a hundred thousand dollars on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads. We learned a lot about how to do this right. We also learned how to do it wrong.
Over the course of ten years at Scripted, I helped raise $18 million dollars, had a staff of over 35 employees, and grew to just over $2 million in annual revenue. It was quite a journey.
When I sold Scripted to a private equity firm, I continued working on a B2B email marketing tool that I built myself in Ruby on Rails, a popular web programming language. I grew this business up to over $200,000 in annual revenue before selling it to another private equity firm. My customers for this product were small and large tech and brick-and-mortar companies, and all of the customer acquisition was done organically through search engine optimization.
Today I am running a company in a private equity portfolio. Everything we talk about is marketing-related. We are encouraged to focus a majority of our time and budget on digital marketing campaigns: SEO, PPC, social, email. We measure everything, and I continue to learn best practices and enhance my understanding of how digital marketing works in the real world.
Importantly, I also know exactly what my peers and I look for in marketing hires.
Ability to teach
Many Business Administration professors at DVC have seen me speak. I was honored to be invited to keynote the first Business Beyond the Classroom this year, where I spoke about my experience getting into a top college and grad schools, and the things I’ve learned about entrepreneurship since then.
I really enjoy speaking and teaching, and I put time into making sure my content is accessible and interesting. This is a skill I would also like to improve, and that is what draws me to this instructor opportunity.
I wrote a book, The Parallel Entrepreneur, that did very well when I launched it on Amazon in April 2018. It became the #1 New Release in the Small Business category and it continues to sell. The consistent feedback I get on the book is that is very easy to read. People like my writing style, and I try to bring that writing style to my teaching style as well.
Focus on community
Finally, I want to add that I am passionate about supporting the greater Diablo Valley in bringing new jobs into the area and helping the current residents access high-paying tech jobs. It would be extremely rewarding to play a hands-on role in educating our diverse community to prepare people to succeed in this competitive but very exciting market.
My dad’s family lived in Lafayette for over 50 years. My grandfather actually sang in the DVC choir. My dad and his siblings went to Acalanes High School. I spent nearly every summer of my childhood in Lafayette with my grandparents (and at Emil Villa’s Hick’ry Pit in Walnut Creek) and I was grateful to be able to buy a home in Saranap, just over the 24 freeway from my late grandparents’ home.
My family is committed to this area; we already call our house our “forever home.” We love it here and want to make living in the Diablo Valley accessible to everyone. It starts with the right education.
Thank you for your consideration.
Walnut Creek, CA