#girlboss + Student / Tafe Digital
Way back when The Cool Career was a newborn, our second Instagram follower was Jess Cook. Yes, she is our number one fan, and we are hers.
For the past year, we have been blown away by her tenacity, can do attitude and exemplary work ethic. Jess knows what she wants, and has been able to develop a lazer focus mentally, that will no doubt get her to wherever she wants to be.
What we love most about this ‘Life After School’ Interview is how real and honest Jess is about her own High School journey. From bullies, to gossip, Jess navigated this time with such a sense of maturity, and graciousness. We love her advice for any girl that has just finished Year 12.
Read below for a real dose of career advice straight from a social media up-and-comer, Jess Cook.
Hey Jess, tell us a little about yourself, where do you live and what are you obsessed with right now?
Hi there, I’m Jess, I’m 19 years old and I live in Sydney. I’m currently studying Marketing and Communications through Tafe Digital but previously studied Fashion Business at Orana College. I am a fashion blogger at Molly and Gizmo, created my own social media management business called Socially Squared and work as a casual sales member at Sussan. I’m currently obsessed with Sarah Ellen, watching Dancing with the Stars Juniors and midi-length dresses and skirts.
What do you want to be, or do career wise right now? Has that changed since finishing high school?
My goal for my career is to run a successful social media management business and grow it from what it is now (basically nothing) into something that I can do full time. I also want to grow my blog and Instagram. When I finished high school, I knew I wanted do work in the fashion industry but now my focus has really turned to social media and digital marketing, so it definitely has changed a little bit. Although I’ll always have a love for fashion, I think a profitable and successful career for me lies somewhere in the social media field.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Sylvania High School and personally quite enjoyed my experience. I was always quite academic and found that if you wanted to learn and pay attention to what was being taught, then the teachers would typically reward that over the disobedient, rude majority in most of the classes I was in. There was definitely a fair share of bullying, drama and stress that I experienced whilst I was at school- it was anything from friendship drama and my own personal mental health struggles to petty gossip and dramas with teachers. But I definitely look past those things and try to remember the good things about my schooling journey.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Not necessarily. We didn’t have many creative classes at school (and the ones we did I didn’t take) so I sort of made my own opportunities through starting my blog in Year 10. I found Orana College through a careers fair we attended with school, so I guess they helped in that way. I loved classes such as Food Tech, Business and English, and they definitely provided me with a lot of skills to take into my future, but they didn’t really play an extreme role in where I am today. When it came to deciding on future studies, my high school career adviser hadn’t even heard of the college I was going to after I graduated so it was definitely more my decision rather than anyone else’s as to where my future career was headed.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Or are you doing any now? Tell us about that experience. If no, tell us why?
I did my year 10 work experience at a preschool and hated it- realised straight away it wasn’t for me. In college, we had to complete a mandatory 100 hours minimum of workplace training. I ended up doing over 300 hours. I interned doing social media for Global Fashion House, and Orana College as well as visual merchandising internships for Westfield and Myer.
I also did work front and back of house for major fashion shows for David Jones and MBFWA. Each experience was different for me, some I loved and some I hated. I did anything from steaming clothes and dressing models to making spreadsheets and doing stock-takes, I was just so keen to get in there and get my hands dirty for the experience to put on my resume. But I don’t regret doing any of them, they each taught me so many things and skills to hold onto for the future.
Are you in Uni or College or Tafe? What are you studying and why did you choose that course?
Currently, I’m studying a Cert 4 in Marketing and Communications through Tafe Digital but previously studied Fashion Business at Orana College. I also just did a 5 week course in social media engagement. I chose all these courses because they are definitely where my interests lie and therefore are relevant to what I want to be. They have all provided the necessary knowledge skills to be able to then go and use them in practical situations.
What’s the hardest thing about the course you are in?
The hardest thing about my current course that I’m doing is not having a physical teacher explaining things to you. I’m 100% responsible for what I’m learning and how I learn it, and it’s so different to anything else I’ve ever done, and its super hard. Its hard to find the motivation to do it, rather than having the structure and the teacher telling to do it.
Do you have a part time or full time job?
I currently work as a casual sales team member for Sussan. I like working in a fashion environment, but the role does have its downfalls. I also do paid social media management work as part of my business. I love being able to come up with ideas and strategies to help other businesses grow their social media platforms, it’s actually quite satisfying and rewarding.
Do you miss High School? If yes why? If no, tell us why?
Sometimes I do miss high school. I miss having a routine and structure to each of my days. I also miss seeing the friends I did like and my teachers. I really don’t miss exams, drama and my boring classes. So, if you asked me whether I would want to go back and do my schooling journey all again, I would probably so say no, the stress just wasn’t worth it!
What does a day a typical day look like for you in your world? Take us on a day from the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed!
My life varies day to day. But for the purpose of this question, Ill talk about what I did yesterday.
- I woke up around 9am, and check social media and emails. For a Tuesday morning, I definitely had a couple emails to attend to.
- I ate breakfast, got dressed and brushed my hair. I also watched the rain come down as my good friend and photographer, Bronte, and I were texting about whether we were going to shoot outfits at Cronulla or not with the rain.
- I watched a couple Youtube videos (currently trying to keep up with my favourite Vlogmas vids) whilst waiting for Bronte to get to my house.
- We drove to Cronulla and wondered around the mall and the beach to shoot three looks for my blog.
- We grabbed lunch at Oporto and then drove back to mine to transfer images and played a few games on my arcade machine (turns out I’m pretty good at Donkey Kong haha!)
- After she left I did chores around the house before my parents came home.
- I went outside and hung out with my dogs for a bit. (Molly and Gizmo love a good pat)
- Organised and created upcoming content for my own Instagram. A lot of planning goes into a month of content for M&G.
- Dinner at 5.30pm. Tonight was an easy dinner night so meat pies and chips it was! Delicious!
- Showered and hopped into my pjs. For someone who loves fashion, my favourite outfit is definitely my pjs.
- Watched TV and did more work on my laptop- a little image editing and client work (when I’m done I play Sims 4 too)
- Bed at 12.30am.
On other days, I may need to go get groceries or go shopping, meet with social media clients, go out with my photographer and shoot outfit posts, go out for lunch or dinner and go to fashion events.
Who is your current hero, or someone you look up to?
I really look up to Sarah Ellen. She is so hardworking for someone her age and her endless creativity amazes me. Shes also incredibly humble despite all the incredible things shes done, places she’s been and brands she has worked with. It’s really inspiring to see someone so young be so mature and professional, as well as have an outstanding work ethic in this day and age- its very admirable.
What advice would you give girls who are in their final year of high school?
I would say work hard but enjoy it. It’s full of ‘lasts’ so take the time to remember how fun it all is rather than being stressed about exams and drama. When it comes to your exams, you should go into the exam knowing you have worked hard and done enough to prepare yourself and walk out of the exam knowing you did your absolute best, despite what ever marks you receive.
I didn’t even need an ATAR to enrol at my college and still wanted to study hard for exams. Yes, I was stressed but I knew after each exam that I did everything I possibly could and was proud that I did.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration
- Favourite Websites: buzzfeed.com and eonline.com
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @sarahellen
- Favourite Podcast: Pretty Basic with Alisa Marie and Remi Cruz
- Favourite Netflix/ Stan Series: I don’t have Netfilx or Stan but currently loving Vanderpump Rules.
- Favourite all time book or mag: Favourite book would be Everything, Everything. Favourite mag would be Elle Australia.
- Favourite Fashion Brand: Cotton On
- Favourite Stationary brand: Kikki K.