For the students at BendPoly school has been in for summer. The inaugural class of 16 is about halfway through the summer digital marketing course. Following is a guest post (courtesy of Bluebird Strategies’ blog) from Alex Spearman, a senior from Hawaii Pacific and a BendPoly student, about what’s she’s learned so far.

I recently read a stat on job opportunities for recent college grads. The numbers are bleak; more than four out of five students are graduating college without a job. And sure, there are many factors lending themselves to this reality, including the economy and an ever evolving job market, but the stats also beg the question: When I graduate will I have the marketable skills needed to land a job?

This last point has stuck out to me in my college experience the most. I am a senior, graduating in December, and I have found myself concerned that I have little job market know-how or any real, hands-on work experience. I can tell you the anatomy of a leaf and can quote Shakespeare, but can I walk into an interview and prove my value to a company with a particular skill set? Uh, no, not really. Is this because colleges are, in essence, failing their students by not providing more technical, vocational type skill sets? I believe so. There is only so much theory one can learn before it becomes practically useless when not applied with real world, hands on experience. BendPoly was created to help change that and it’s what immediately drew me to this class and experience.

BendPoly meets three days a week, for five hours in a conference room in the newly built Tech Center in Bend. The Tech Center is energizing with its silicon valley feel and open floor plans; you feel important merely being there. I appreciate the fact that we are in a work-like environment, sitting around a conference table not only learning from veteran, industry professionals and thought leaders, but contributing and engaging with one another, as well. This inaugural class of 16 students, ranging in age, background and experience, each brings a unique value to the classroom that feels fed by the energy and structure of the class itself. More than one time, I found myself just sitting back, in awe of my fellow classmates and their critical thinking, eagerness to learn and ambition.

As we enter week three, it feels like we have learned as much as students do in four years of college. The only difference is we are being taught something that is not being taught within the walls of our universities; a real, tangible skill and expertise. The class was constructed to bridge the gap between higher education and the work force, giving us, the students, the opportunity to learn a marketable skill. This in turn will allow us to enter the job market, not only with our degrees, but with a vocation that is applicable and highly sought after by employers today. And honestly, I’m not sure there is another program that allows 16 students to learn digital marketing from the creators and innovators of digital marketing.

In closing here are a few highlights for me from the past three weeks:

  • Jon Miller, co-founder and all around digital marketing guru (my words, not his), was our keynote speaker the first day of class. Mark this under things other students probably haven’t gotten to say, either. His presentation had some remarkable takeaways that set up the class well. His insight was eye-opening, inspiring and overall, pretty darn cool.
  • I had a personal fan girl moment over John Dempsey, social strategist with Wieden + Kennedy. My background is advertising and to even be in close proximity to a person who works for Wieden and Kennedy had me stumbling over my words and asking a million questions. He was gracious, patient and had tons of industry knowledge as it relates to social media and digital marketing.
  • And lastly, getting to know and working with this group of dynamic and brilliant students has been a privilege, to say the least. I am a firm believer that you must surround yourself with others much smarter than you to be able to learn and grow and that is exactly where I find myself at BendPoly. I am relishing being the small fish in a big pond and learning from each my peers. We have some truly astounding people coming out of this class and each of them is about to take the world by storm.


Alex Spearman is a motivated, enthusiastic and driven strategic communication undergraduate student with a passion for the advertising and marketing industry. With a creative and strategic mind, Alex is a proven leader who excels in integrated promotions, social media management and content creation.

BlueBird Strategies is a sponsor of BendPoly, a 6-week course dedicated to building upon the foundation of higher education and providing practical skills in high-demand areas that traditional colleges and universities do not provide. BlueBird Strategies President, Cari Baldwin, is also Chief Instructor at BendPoly.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at or

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley