Interview, News

Alumnus Success – Interview with Humanities’ Hallows co-founder Jason Cooke

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It’s our birthday! This week sees the first anniversary of the creation of Humanities’ Hallows and the Student Press Office (SPO) which runs it. As part of our celebrations, we have chosen to interview an individual without whom the SPO could not have been as successful, nor as enjoyable for those involved, as it has been over the past year. 

Now working in a major London university’s Marketing Department, Jason Cooke studied at MMU and later completed an internship within the Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences (HLSS) Faculty, working as part of the IDEA (Initiatives and Development External Activities) office. It was within this role that Jason was appointed as the first co-ordinator of the SPO. His passionate approach and larger than life personality left a lasting impression on all of his colleagues and he engendered, from the very outset of Humanities’ Hallows and the SPO, a ‘can-do’ attitude.

Here, Jason tells us about his time at MMU, both as a student and an intern, and explains what influence his experiences at the university have had in terms of his current success.
JaseHH: Hi Jason, firstly, what did you study at MMU?

Jason Cooke: I studied BA Hons Public Services at MMU. When I enrolled I was hoping to complete a year-long placement in my third year to make it a sandwich degree, but the political landscape changed and loyal public sector workers were being sacked. The chances of entering the public sector were cut dramatically. I was set on taking a year out though,
so I moved to London and went travelling shortly after, before returning to Manchester to finish my degree.


HH: And what, specifically, does your current role involve?

Jason Cooke: My current role is at a large London university where I work in the Marketing Department for the UK and Europe. Our main concern is getting ‘bums on seats’ and making sure that the prospect of university still appeals to people. With the cuts and strains on the education sector in general, less people are applying to university, which is a problem, because the UK needs an educated workforce. Going to university is now not a lifestyle choice, but a financial choice and one not to be taken lightly.

My role is varied and busy – which is what I like. I work in a small team and we venture to all corners of Europe, promoting the university at fairs and open days.

HH: How was your time as a student at MMU? And how do you feel your studies prepared you for your career?

Jason Cooke: I had an incredible time as a student. I met some lifelong friends and enjoyed being in Manchester, it’s a great place. When I began my studies – and even towards the end of my time at MMU – I didn’t know what I wanted to do career-wise. It wasn’t until I did my internship that I realised what I wanted to do in the long term.

HH: You completed your internship within the HLSS faculty, what exactly was your role?

Jason Cooke: I began working at MMU in September 2012 as the Alumni/Events Intern for HLSS. My job was to engage with HLSS alumni and organise events of interest to them and current students.

HH: Did you enjoy the work you did as part of this? How did you get on with your colleagues?

Jason Cooke: I had a great time working at MMU. I was quite lucky in that I landed in a great team. The guys in the IDEA office were very supportive and encouraged me to bounce ideas around. The team I was in worked well because we all had different qualities and I think that aided us in getting our ideas out there.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about working in my team was when a member of staff would leave for one reason or another. We all worked so well together that it felt like a member of the family was leaving. We always sent them off in style, however.

HH: Do you feel the internship prepared you well for your current role?

Jason Cooke: Experience in Higher Education helped for a start. I began to understand the mechanics surrounding student recruitment, marketing, working with students and engaging with stakeholders. I’m normally an organised person, but MMU made me more so.

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HH:As part of your role at MMU you headed up a new project, namely the Student Press Office. How was this experience? Did it benefit you in terms of your current career and did you enjoy working on the project?

Jason Cooke: My role within the SPO was probably the best job I will ever have. I remember putting myself forward for the role thinking ‘this sounds interesting, why not?’ The idea was to offer journalistic experience to students whilst publicising all the great things we were achieving in HLSS. Before we knew it, we were getting web traffic from all corners of the globe and other students wanted to know how they could get involved.

The main thing that I have taken with me from my role within the SPO is the experience of working with students. In my current role, I head up campus tours for prospective students. I work closely with student ambassadors who talk to prospective students and advise them on what type of course to choose. I had a great group of students working with me in Manchester.

We had some great times when I was at the SPO. Probably my proudest moment was when our first article was published in a local newspaper. I think it was the Salford Advertiser. Once that had happened, I realised that the sky was the limit. The SPO’s writing was good enough for the press! Another great moment was when David Peace, an author (of The Damned Utd and Red Or Dead) and MMU alumnus – whom I had been trying to score an interview with for almost 12 months – emailed me and asked if I could interview him later that afternoon. I was chuffed and what a great guy!

Everyone at Humanities’ Hallows and the SPO wishes Jason every success in his future endeavours.
We are confident that he will be an asset to his current employers and we all thank him and hope to do him proud as we enter our second year!

Neil Harrison studies Social History at MMU, he is an aspiring writer, an awful guitar player and a lazy socialist. Follow him on Twitter @looseriver

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