Claire Cook is a marketing and communications manager at Girls Who Code, writer at Brit + Co., blogger, and yoga teacher. Girls Who Code is closing the gender gap in technology. They inspire girls to pursue computer science by exposing them to real life and on screen role models. Girls Who Code engages engineers, developers, executives, and entrepreneurs to teach and motivate the next generation. Their guest speakers, mentors, and instructors are leaders in their fields, working in positions the girls aspire to have.
Claire Cook, West Coast Marketing and Communications Manager:
How did you end up as west coast marketing and communications manager at Girls Who Code? What was your career path?
I started my career in marketing at Columbia Records in NYC, where I had the opportunity to work on artists like One Direction, Adele, and The Glee soundtracks and Nickelodeon TV show soundtracks. I grew up singing, so working in music was a natural trajectory.
What I loved most, though, was marketing to young women and connecting with the female fans of the artists I worked with. After Columbia Records, I moved to LA to work with Scooter Braun as the marketing manager for several artists on his roster. Working at a management company gave me an even closer look at fans and the communities that were built around the artists I represented. A lot of these fans desperately wanted to belong to a sisterhood, which is the power of working with artists like Justin Bieber or One Direction. I left the music industry wanting to be part of a movement that empowered young women. That’s exactly what Girls Who Code does.
How did you land your role at Girls Who Code? What was the hiring process like?
The CEO of Girls Who Code suggests that we all should have a personal board of directors of close friends and mentors who can can help shape our career paths. I’ve been lucky in that every job I’ve ever had has come through mentors and or friends. One of my friends from high school is the director of curriculum at Girls Who Code, who previously worked in cyber security. She came to a One Direction concert with my five years ago and we were joking about we’d never have the chance to work together with our differing career paths. However, when Girls Who Code needed someone to do marketing directed at students, parents, and alumni, she recommended me for the job. Turns out the middle ground for cyber security and pop music is Girls Who Code.
What are your responsibilities as marketing and communications manager at Girls Who Code?
I oversee all social media posting, email communication to all students, parents, and alumni, writing for our blog, and any content that we, or press partners, release about our program or alumni. Working at a non-profit means that all hands are on deck all the time. I’m never bored and am always learning something new.
What is a day as Claire like? Please walk me through a day!
I wake up around 6 am and check email, post on social media, and then have coffee. After a quick workout, I walk to work with my puppy, Igby. I spend the day reviewing ad campaigns, writing and overseeing email blasts, writing copy for ad campaigns or social media posts, pitching stories to blogs and brainstorming creative ways to explain what coding is to young women and their parents. I spend a lot of my time interviewing our alumni and writing about them for our blog, I Am a Girl Who Codes.
What is your favorite thing about working at Girls Who Code?
I love the sisterhood inside the company and outside. I’ve never felt so supported professionally and so inspired by the work I am doing. I love hearing our alumni stories. Knowing that I am helping other women is incredibly moving.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
I wanted to launch a blog that featured alumni and women in tech interviews and was given the go my very first week at the job. One month in, we launched the blog.
What is the most important characteristic that someone needs to be successful in your role?
Creative, calm, and organized. It’s a proactive job in some ways but also very reactive so I need to make sure that I’m taking time to reflect throughout the day and not get overwhelmed by what needs to get done.
What is your favorite thing about working in marketing?
The creativity. I love finding unique ways to introduce people to something new.
What advice do you have for other people who hope to work in marketing?
Expect to hustle. I remember staying at Columbia Records until 10-11 pm most nights as an assistant. I worked for the senior vice president of marketing who let me shadow him most days, which meant that I had to make up for administrative work after office hours.
You also write for one of my daily reads, Brit + Co. How did you start writing for them?
I started blogging on thebearbooks.tumblr.com for fun several years ago. It became a paid hobby a year ago when I got my first gig writing for the LA Times. When I moved to SF, I was introduced to the editor of Brit+Co and aggressively pitched ideas to her and her team. I think they let me write for them because of my persistence more than anything else.
When you aren’t working at Girls Who Code and writing for Brit + Co. you teach yoga. What are your time management tips?
I constantly have to check in with myself and make sure that I’m feeling fulfilled with everything that I’m doing. Yoga is such an important part of my physical and mental health that teaching has become a necessity for me maintaining balance and calm in my life. I make sure that I practice at least three times a week and prioritize that time to myself over other things.
What is on your desk right now?
Chia seeds, puppy treats, four notebooks, a picture of my brother and me and Cheryl Strayed’s book of quotes, Brave Enough.
What is your morning routine?
Wake up, make coffee, take my dog outside, drink coffee, check email, try to get in a 30 minute workout, walk to work, work.
What is your favorite book?
My favorite book is The Fear Of Flying, which is controversial for its portrayal of female sexuality and was key in the development of second-wave feminism. A quote that sums up the book – and really, life – for me is, “I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change… I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back….”
What is your best advice to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. I used to associate mistakes with failure rather than learning something. I was really hard on myself early in my career.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The first time I met one of my female mentors, she said, “Don’t settle before you’re in your 30s. I can tell you don’t know who you are. Promise me that you’ll take the next couple years to figure that out before you settle.” I was 27 at the time. I’m now 29 and I’m so glad I received that advice when I did because I have taken the time to figure out who I am, what I want, and what I will or won’t stand for!
Images via Claire Cook.