Why a college degree was more than a certificate for me
My name is Daniel Tarnowski, and I suffer from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which keeps me wheelchair bound, and unless medicines find a cure, probably always will. I’ve done my best not to let my disease define me, or control my life. It’s not always been easy, there have been some bumps along the way, but I’ve persevered.
I’ve always loved marketing. My Dad runs his own small Electrical business, and I used to help out in the offices during the summer, coming up with ideas how to promote his services. So it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone when I decided to major in marketing at College.
Off I went to NYU and had a great time, stopping on to finish masters in digital marketing and top my class. I first loved marketing because I seemed to be good at it, and when you’re good at something, it’s natural you’ll want to gravitate towards it. But as I went through college, I found that I loved digital marketing because my disabilities were never a factor. Most people I dealt with online wouldn’t know or care if I were wheel chair bound and it would never be a factor.
I never hid that I’m wheelchair bound, I’m proud of who I am because I’m proud of the way I’ve overcome the challenges that my life has thrown at me. But I enjoyed the fact that it didn’t define me as a person. I was the son of a Polish immigrant, who head for digital marketing, who just happened to be in a wheelchair. That is until I graduated NYU and entered the big bad world for real. It’s not a blame thing. I wasn’t discriminated against. But the reality was, that getting an internship was near impossible. Heck, the interview was often impossible.
Imagine the situation. A head bursting with knowledge, ready and excited to start my career, even as just a lowly intern and I couldn’t get a job because most places just didn’t have wheel chair access. I couldn’t get into the office.
During College, I’d fallen in love in New York, and I wanted to stay there, but it wasn’t happening, I couldn’t get a start, and it was really frustrating. Until this point, I had not let my disease stop me from doing what I wanted, but it felt like I was going to get stuck at the last hurdle. My Dad is not really a man of many words. A Polish immigrant who came to the US with nothing in his pocket worked two jobs until he could start his own business. Not a massive company, but he built it from the ground up, did it all himself and now he employs 15 people and lives comfortably.
The one thing he has taught me, drilled into me even, is to take action. He never stood on the sidelines, watching other people make a success of their lives. He took action and worked hard to make it happen. So I took a leaf out his book. If I can’t go any work for marketing agencies how else could I challenge myself you use my skills and knowledge?
I took some freelance projects, working from home, to pay the bills and then I set out building my own business online. My own e-commerce store, Dandelion Interriors. I started out with branding, web design etc. I had to find some products that I felt had a market with great profit margins and then it was time to launch. I used my knowledge and education to launch Dandelion Interriors and within the first week it started making a profit. It was a great time for me because I was putting all I had learned into practice. Scary and exciting at the same time.
From there the store has gone from strength to strength. We’ve built a loyal customer base; we’ve expanded our product range and increased our reach online. By most standards, it’s a success and it’s getting bigger and bigger. From my perspective. I’m really content. I am using my education in marketing and digital marketing, which is also my passion. I’m learning more and more every day. And the business is successful and growing month in month out.
I would have loved to intern at a digital agency, I was looking to learn from other marketers as much as anything else and it would have been a great opportunity but it wasn’t possible, I found another solution and took action and I’m reaping the rewards