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Pennsylvania native, author, and Pittsburgh Pirates inside sales representative Jessica Cook ’19 came to University Heights for John Carroll’s location, small size, the opportunity to play softball and an academic program that she was passionate about.

“I saw that sports studies was going to start at John Carroll, and I’ve been an athlete all my life so it made sense,” Cook said. 

As a freshman, Cook decided to join the sports studies program, and attempt to break through in a male-dominated industry. She also picked up minors in both business and entrepreneurship. Through her coursework, Cook created a leadership mindset within her career in sports. She was introduced to industry trends and was able to make valuable connections. 

Through her entrepreneurship minor, Cook was given the opportunity to establish her credibility in an area she was passionate about by becoming a published author. In December, Cook will publish her book, “Own It: Navigating the College Athlete Experience to Successful Career in Life,” which is about college athletics and how to make the most of the student-athlete experience. 

Cook wrote her book from her experience as a college athlete. “Being a student athlete played a huge role in my JCU experience,” Cook said. “It has taught me a lot of skills that I have been able to take with me into the professional workforce. Being competitive is one that comes to mind in particular.” 

As many freshmen do, Cook struggled with the transition to college life, which affected many aspects of her life, including how she performed on the softball field. As she began her sophomore year, Cook was determined to get more involved on campus and ultimately enhance her John Carroll experience. During this time, she applied to be a tour guide and built on relationships she had made within the Sports Studies Department and on the softball team. 

“I did better academically. In softball, I threw a perfect game,” Cook said. “It gave me the confidence I needed on the field, but also to step out of my comfort zone to apply for internships.”

Cook’s increased confidence both on and off the field paid off as she applied for and accepted two internships with Cycle Bar and UPMC. This experience taught Cook about professional development and allowed her to gain valuable marketing skills. Cook also made a valuable connection with her boss, Mandie Giambroni, who introduced Cook to her husband, Andy, the manager of membership and retention for the Pittsburgh Pirates. This led Cook to a full-time position with the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

As an inside sales rep, Cook sells a full “menu,” which includes season tickets, group outings, premium seating and luxury suites. On a daily basis, she calls anywhere from 80-100 leads to see how their experience was during their last visit to PNC Park and how they typical utilize Pirates tickets. From there, Cook may invite the lead down for a VIP appointment to show them some of the behind the scenes areas of the ballpark and discuss their different ticketing options. 

“There are two things I really like about being an inside sales rep,” Cook said. “The first is selling full menu, which allows me to gain experience in all areas of ticket sales. The second is continuing to learn new things weekly. My manager holds various training sessions for us throughout the week to help us sharpen up on our sales skills or learn more about the industry.” 

As a young professional, Cook is thankful for her JCU experience. “JCU helped me to become a well rounded individual,” Cook said. “Each experience I had helped to shape me in one way or another. My experience also helped me to be confident in myself and my abilities.”