How I became a marketer: Maria Dueñas
Welcome Maria - Let’s start around college: What were you studying? Did you always know you’d become a marketer?
I was pre-med. I went in as a neuroscience major, but I actually dropped out right at the start of my junior year. So I don’t actually have a degree! My career took me in a very different direction.
What was your mindset in junior year?
I realized I really didn't want to go into medicine, and that was the only thing I had ever wanted to do. I didn't have a backup plan. So once I realized I didn't wanna do that, I decided to take a break; it was the only logical path forward.
So I started working at a friends’ interior design shop - their business was really old-fashioned: They didn’t have a website or any presence. I started doing social media marketing for them. I slowly learned that ads & boosted posts were a thing - and over time, I started helping other small businesses in my hometown.
That’s when I got really interested in marketing. And eventually, I reached out to a bunch of agencies - not even asking for a job, but more-so asking them what they’d like to see in a candidate. And that’s how I ended up getting my first internship for an agency in New York called “The Spark Group”. From there, everything started to take shape.
What did you learn there - and what got you to the next step?
I managed a couple accounts. It was really trial by fire. I did things like write copy, set up ads, run campaigns and learn about how to manage client facing work.
That gave me the skills to land a job at a performance marketing agency called Code3 (back then it was called SocialCode), which focused on paid social. That’s where I learned the most in the quickest amount of time. The folks there were highly skilled technically & really thought about business growth rather than isolated platform growth.
Eventually, I got poached by Function of Beauty on the growth team, and that was my first in-house experience.
And recently, you’ve gone full-time freelance right? What’s that been like?
I wasn’t really planning on going full-time freelance, but it was something that I was thinking about. I got a call from another freelance marketer platform right around that time, and that gave me the confidence to jump in.
Since then, I haven’t looked back. I get demand via Linkedin directly & now via Storetasker too - so the work is coming and while there are certainly challenges in being freelance, it works very well for me.
Any recent learnings in freelance?
You will naturally have less exposure to senior folks vs. working for a brand or agency. So if you value that guidance, you have to network to get it. And it’s definitely necessary; the industry trends change so quickly that you must stay on top of it all.
Any resources you’d recommend to younger folks looking to go full-time freelance?
I joined a group called Foxwell Founders. Nothing even comes close to the access you have to other people there. The community is really top notch and everyone is super collaborative.
Another piece of advice is don’t go freelance too early. Spend the time to learn the ins-and-outs in a stable job for at 3-5 years, get alot of exposure to different projects and problems to solve, and then consider going freelance.
Thank you Maria. And welcome to Storetasker, it’s a pleasure to have you on board!