Below is our interview with Nativa Partner Eric Diaz, who also is a proud adjunct faculty member at Phoenix College (PC)! As of Fall semester 2020, Eric serves as a social media marketing professor for the school. For those unfamiliar with Phoenix College, it was founded in 1920 and is a supporting Black and Hispanic serving institution. It is one of the oldest community colleges in the country.
Q: What made you decide to become a Social Media Marketing Professor Phoenix?
A: Honestly, it’s one of those things where I was just in the right place at the right time. The school and I had had a relationship for the past 5 years in which they asked for assistance from the business community to look over new courses in marketing and advertising that they were launching. This is a fairly standard thing at colleges & universities to my knowledge, and we happily gave feedback on the course.
During that meeting, I told the Business department chair at the time that if there were ever a class I was qualified for, that I would be interested in teaching it. Two weeks later I received a phone call letting me know there was a class. Business Statistics 101. Wow, Business Stats. Not exactly what I do every day, but I figured it would be a fun challenge. In all fairness, I do have a Finance MBA, so Stats is something that I do know, although not my dayjob. However, after reading the book, I was refreshed and was able to propose fun new assignments to entertain the class.
Finally, I must mention that both of my parents were college professors. Although I’ve never aspired to become one myself, I guess it was my destiny ?
Q: So we know why you became a professor, but why Phoenix College?
A: I had always liked what I heard about Phoenix College as they have a history of welcoming Black and Hispanic students, during much different times in America. This rang true to me. Another coincidental thing is that Phoenix College is literally a 5-minute walk from my office, about a half-mile away. That didn’t hurt either!
Q: Tell us more about your instruction style and what you are teaching now.
A: I also teach Business Ethics in IT, which at first I found a bit dry, but as I’ve started to personalize the course a bit more I have begun to enjoy. Most recently this Fall I have begun teaching two new courses in marketing. These courses are more of my bread and butter because they relate to social media, which is something that my businesses Nativa and O.Y.E. do every single day. I have looked to make coursework more fun by injecting guest speakers wherever possible to entertain and educate the course with subject matter experts that work intensely in these particular areas of marketing. One of my classes focuses wider and more on the back-end of setting up social media correctly while the other course goes heavier into 1-2 platforms and provides a deeper experience in creating quality content. I’m looking forward to the new challenges presented from these courses and how I can introduce business activities into them to provide the students with real-world knowledge.
Q: How do you incorporate what you’ve learned at Nativa into your courses?
A: I’m able to add the most real-life professional examples into my courses from topics that have to do with social media, marketing, advertising, influencers, and more. That is because I deal or have dealt with these items regularly. For example, with social media, I know a delay many small businesses experience is literally just getting set up on the channels. They focus too much on trying to be perfect, and not enough on just getting it out there, and improving as you go. As I have seen that so often, one of my classes is focused primarily on setting up good, professional, company profiles and getting them posting content and engaging with potential customers for the first time. It generally takes my students one to two hours to set up a business professional social media page, whether it be Instagram, TikTok, or their first podcast. But just getting over that hurdle and having that experience of knowing how to launch their social media profile will serve them well in future marketing roles.
Q: With our new COVID reality, what do you think about teaching online?
A: It is interesting for me because I began teaching solely in-person in 2018. It was a challenge as I had to plan how to educate students in person for three consecutive hours without losing their attention. I developed a routine and found ways to get my class to interact and perform assignments that would make the class fun, while still making sure that they were learning key competencies. Now, all that has stopped of course due to COVID. We are now 100% online and I’m actually inheriting classes that the original instructors let go as they were not interested in adapting their courses to be online.
Now, instruction is a whole new animal. Instead of teaching in-person for three straight hours, (was that ever a good idea?) I only do live Zoom content for 50 minutes consecutively and almost always have a guest speaker so it is not a soliloquy for the students. This has worked fantastically based on the reviews received thus far (See Eric’s 5.0 rating on RateMyProfessor.com) and I allow the students to watch the Zoom content on their own time if they’re not able to catch the live stream. It’s only been one semester so far, but so far I am a fanatic of virtual learning.
About Eric Diaz:
No other person in the office loves Mondays as much as Eric does. The Co-founder of both Nativa and OYE leads these teams by focusing on the needs of the client in order to deliver the best long-term solutions. He credits his years working across continents for the corporate giant Staples, Inc. as the guiding path to his strong project management ability. To stay on top of the newest trends in multicultural marketing, Eric participates in online conversations, researches best practices and industry trends, and discusses the newest wrinkles in marketing, advertising, and digital strategies. A veteran of several traditional cubicle-farm office environments, Eric enjoys the fact that he can finally justify spending his day on Instagram.