Alison Garwood Jones

My First Student With a Job in AI

August 30, 2023

A few weeks after a posted this, the University of Toronto (SCS) published an interview with the talented student I profile in this blog.

SCS Digital Communications Course Prompts Learner to Explore Exciting New AI Career


Earlier this month, I got an email from a former student who said she was moving on from a career as a digital content specialist to take on an AI-centric role. This was a first.

I have a nose for turning points, and seeing a content marketer re-configure her “Web 2.0 work self” into an AI-first knowledge worker was strong evidence for me that the future is already here.

If you’re still confused by all of the clear-as-mud hype about how AI will affect your job, I hope this post clarifies some of the changes this new internet is steering us all towards.

Raquel signed up for two of my classes at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies:

  1. Writing Digital Content (Summer 2021)
  2. Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media (Winter 2023).

She came to class with massive amounts of experience creating content marketing and executing distribution strategies for big Canadian brands in the music, health and fitness, and food and drink sectors. Years of networking, learning on the job, and upskilling with con-ed classes made her really good at:

  • Content marketing and multimedia storytelling
  • Copywriting
  • Social media marketing
  • Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned distribution tactics
  • Audio storytelling (she has her own drinkology podcast What R You Drinking? and was an online radio host before that)
  • Event planning and management

BTW, this is the calibre of “student” who signs up for my courses. If I start to slip into complacency as an instructor, it’s students like Raquel who drop-kick my ass across the field and into the stands.

In both classes, Raquel was a bulldozer about learning and asked the smartest (most unsettling) questions about industry changes that were starting to come into focus. And this was before the ChatGPT bomb drop last November.

What’s going on?

In 2021, digital marketing’s accepted best practices — tactics that had been working for a dozen years — weren’t working as well anymore. Raquel wanted to know why. And, more importantly, what could be done about it? At that point, the fixes and workarounds I was hoping to find and share with my students were washed out to sea the moment AI started elbowing search to the sidelines.

Fast forward to January 2023 when Raquel signed up for her second class with me, Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media. ChatGPT had been on the scene for five weeks when we gathered for our first webinar. It was early days, but not for long.

Each week, I started integrating Generative AI updates and demos into our class discussions about blogging and content calendars. Our heads were swimming with questions about how such traditional digital assets and tactics could possibly co-exist with the spewing power of chatbots.

At one point, Raquel emailed me wondering what she had signed up for. I sensed she was on the verge of dropping out. I don’t blame her,  I was steering the course in a new direction that didn’t exactly match the course described in the calendar at sign-up time. Here is how Raquel described her confusion in a LinkedIn recap a few weeks ago:

“I felt I had registered for the wrong course … Little did I know it would lead me to exactly where I want to be.”


Single apple

My courses have always been less about passing on formulas for success and more about figuring out how to respond to and capitalize on change as online storytellers and creative entrepreneurs. Note: Content marketing isn’t dead, it’s just entering a very different chapter.

From Content Marketer to AI Prompt Writer

So where is Raquel now? As summer comes to a close, she is finishing up her final deliverables for the “Prompt Engineering for ChatGPT” Certificate through Coursera and Vanderbilt University (PS: like Raquel, all of us will be upskilling until our final breath). But here’s the kicker:

Last month she accepted a full-time contract job as an AI Prompt Writer at TEKsystems on assignment for Meta (parent company to Facebook). She is responsible for the composition, evaluation, and analysis of prompts that fuel an AI chatbot’s interactions and responses.

That job did not exist last January, but the idea of that job started to come into focus during the last half of our 12-week course (i.e. by about March 2023), a time when all of us were wondering out loud if “prompt engineering” would be a skill or a job title. I’d argue it’s both.

It’s worth pointing out that Raquel does not have a computer engineering degree or advanced coding skills. She’s a storyteller, an artsy with a head for strategy and an openness to change.


Let’s review: in the span of eight months, Raquel went from managing digital marketing campaigns for multiple corporate clients to being someone who thought “it was a good idea to pursue this thing called AI.” As I write this, she is actively rethinking how to use all of the skills she spent the last decade acquiring.

It takes energy and courage to turn your life towards a new horizon and an unknowable future. Raquel let me know that her chihuahua, Harley, boosts her courage every day, as only dogs can.

I plan to invite Raquel to be a guest speaker in class this fall. I know we’ll all benefit from her stories from the front lines of change.

For the rest of us, letting go of our earlier selves and ending our quest for wins that don’t exist anymore is arguably one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to do. It’s the end of a relationship to ourselves.

Sooner or later, we’ll all be asked to pack our bags and move on to the next big thing.

AI won’t kill content marketing, but content marketers who use AI (like Raquel) will definitely replace those who don’t. The same can be said of instructors. The Marketing AI Institute put it best:

Marketing AI Institute


2 responses to “My First Student With a Job in AI”

  1. Raquel says:

    Thank you Alison! it’s because of your teachings and grasping quickly to “this AI thing”. It helped me beyond where I thought it would be now.

    It made me stand up and take action to get into this field NOW!

    Thank you for shaping and educating minds in the methods in which you do.

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