Building a New Legacy

Marketing graduate Courtney Katen revisits topics, dives deep into emerging trends

Sometimes following your career passion looks like a blueprint of those who surround you. But as you start to emulate that blueprint, you find yourself sketching a new map for your future.

Such was the case with Marketing certificate graduate Courtney Katen.

“When I started college, I was actually an accounting major,” she recalls. “I had a love of math and fell into it as that's also the field my dad was in. About halfway through, I realized that accounting was not for me and that I wanted to feel more passionate about my future career. I wanted the ability to collaborate more with others, be more creative and work on a wider variety of projects. I ended up with a degree in marketing and corporate management from California State University East Bay. I had worked in retail throughout college and that led me to retail marketing, which is where I really began my marketing career.”

It’s during these undergraduate times when Courtney realized that she wanted to fulfill the yearning that was pulling at her heart. Nothing could stop that desire, she persevered and ultimately received her reward—a fulfilling career in marketing.


Let’s hear Courtney’s experience as she journeyed through our marketing certificate.

What drew you to our marketing certificate?

I had been looking into graduate programs but wasn't sure if I wanted to fully commit. It had been about four years since I had completed my undergraduate degree and I just wanted to see what was new in the marketing field, especially because I had also just begun searching for a new job.

A friend had completed a certificate program at another school and it sounded like the right time and money commitment that I was looking for. I began researching schools that offered such programs and right away knew that UC Berkeley Extension was right for me. I liked that I would be building my knowledge and skills with highly qualified educators, the courses aligned with my goals, and after attending a few Q&A sessions I signed up.

What were some of the gems you received from our certificate?

I'm not sure if this is the desired response, but a gem that I appreciate was the community and flexibility that the program offers.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31, when I was only halfway through the certificate. I was able to complete my medical treatment, and when I felt up to it I was determined to finish the program. It was nice to have something to keep my mind off of everything else that was going on and I felt the support of my fellow students and instructors.

The class sizes were small enough to have that community feel to them, even though they were all virtual. It's an accomplishment that I'm even more proud of now.

Did our Marketing program give you the opportunity to develop more or enhance current skills?   

The program definitely gave me the opportunity to develop my current skills. I thought it would be redundant, but I actually really enjoyed beginning the program with the Marketing Management course as a refresher. Even though it had only been four or so years, marketing had changed so much with the popularity of social media.

The courses were up to date and applicable to the current marketing climate. All the courses had a nice mix of content that I felt I already knew but might've changed and new content that I wasn't aware of.

I see you are currently a marketing and operations manager. Did you have a specific project where you used what you learned from the courses?

I would say that my final course, Strategic Brand Management with Reginald Duhé, provided the most impact into my current role. First of all, instructor Duhé is amazing: He is so passionate about his course content and you can tell by how he leads the class. The course was engaging and I feel like I took away so much from it.

The course gave me insights into how to help brand and promote my organization, especially being a service provider versus having a product. We learned all about what branding is, how it has evolved with consumer behaviors, marketing to human wants/needs and, toward the end of the course, touched upon neurobranding.

It was incredibly interesting and I find myself using my notes from that course frequently for work and in my own journey of deep marketing understanding.

I currently work as a marketing and operations manager for a small but mighty nonprofit in Oakland, Envision Learning Partners. We focus on developing high-quality  performance-assessment systems for schools to make education more equitable for all students. We work with other education organizations, individual schools, school districts, state departments and a few international partners.

I feel like I'm making a difference in education without working directly in a school. I use my marketing background to share my organization's mission and the services we offer, hopefully widening our impact.

Any advice to our current or prospective marketing certificate students?

I would say if you're considering it, just do it. It was enjoyable to revisit the topics that I had forgotten since my undergraduate marketing classes and I feel like I learned so much new content because marketing is an ever-evolving area. Receiving the certificate at the end of the program also has its own rewarding feeling of accomplishment.

Additionally, I think that even for those who just want to lightly dip into the marketing world, the courses gave amazing insight and knowledge.