With a plan for his future and a level head, Jake is sure to go far. Focus caught up with him on the first day of his holidays and the morning after he had proposed marriage to his beautiful fiancée … who, by the smile on his face, had accepted …
Can you tell us a bit about your connection to the Coffs Coast?
My family and I moved here from Sydney on my 11th birthday, meaning I have now spent exactly half my life on the beautiful Coffs Coast. I have found that coastal living suits me much better than the hustle and bustle of city life. I went to Urunga Public School and moved on to Coffs Harbour Christian Community School for high school, where I completed my HSC. During this time I was also involved with Urunga Surf Club and the Bellingen Braves basketball club.
When you finished school, you chose to study at Southern Cross University, rather than move away. Can you tell us why that was?
When evaluating my uni options, I found no real reason for me to leave the Coffs Coast and plenty of reasons to stay. Having a fantastic campus to study at locally meant that I could stay with my family and friends, keep my employment at the time at a local business in Urunga, and maintain other commitments including Red Frogs and youth leadership. All this was achieved thanks to the flexibility of the external classes that SCU offers their students.
What did you study, and what do you hope that the degree will help you achieve?
I studied a Bachelor of Business and completed this degree at the end of 2015. I initially had selected human resource management as my major, but changed to a marketing major at the end of my second year when I realised my passion for that area. As much as I would have loved to continue with human resource major, I decided to strengthen my marketing major with a wide variety of elective units, including accounting, law, leadership and teaching. I hope the studies I have undertaken allow me to differentiate myself in any career that I undertake and that I can apply the skills learnt in a variety of environments.
You work as a mentor for young people in the local area. What are some of the issues that you feel need to be addressed?
Being a mentor in the local community through Harbour Church and Red Frogs allows me to connect with a wide variety of young people and understand the issues affecting them. The major issues that I have seen affecting young people today is self identity, depression and anxiety. There is major expectation laid on youth in today’s society which comes from peers, role models and the media.
What advice do you try to give those that you mentor?
For young people, the biggest thing I try to help them with is their identity, self worth and who they are as a person. This is done through regular conversations to help them figure out who they are, what their hobbies and interests are and what their morals are. I suggest that young people have a positive role model in their lives that they can go to for advice and help when needed. Helping young people understand that there is more to life than conforming to social pressures is important to me.
Can you tell us a bit about the Red Frogs programme and how it benefits the students?
Well, the Red Frogs programme is a chaplaincy network which started in 1997 on the Gold Coast, after a youth pastor came to visit his graduated youth students who had travelled down for schoolies. This is when he saw a lot of young people in need of help at schoolies. Not just the schoolies themselves, but also the hotel managers, paramedics, police officers and hotel security. From this, Red Frogs has grown internationally, and we don’t just serve at schoolies – now we reach out to young people at universities, high schools, music festivals and sporting events.
Since completing your studies, you have gained employment in the local area; where is this, and what is it that you do?
After finishing my studies at SCU, I had the task of seeking full-time employment. Because of my passion for the local area, I only looked at positions on the Coffs Coast. After only one month out of uni, I approached Century 21 Foreshore 2 Farms (Sawtell) to complete a couple of days’ work experience. After a few days’ work experience, I was offered a full-time position as a real estate sales agent. This meant I had to complete further study to acquire my certificate of registration to be able to work in the industry. After I completed the certificate, I was introduced to the market as a sales consultant, where I was fortunate to be able to work in areas I grew up, including Urunga, Repton, Mylestom, Bellingen, Bonville and Boambee East.
Was it difficult to understand what was required of you when you first started this position, or did your studies and mindset give you confidence taking on the role?
Before I worked at Century 21, I was in a sales position at a local footwear business for two and a half years. Before working there I was nervous about the idea of selling products to customers based on my knowledge of the product. However, after starting in the role I quickly learned the ease of selling a product that you truly believe in and appreciate. Knowing the product was going to contribute to their health and comfort proved to be very rewarding for me. When moving into residential sales, I used the experience of retail sales and my tertiary education in marketing to create my unique sales style. I hope this will continue to allow me to differentiate myself in the market and provide exceptional service to my clients. To me, the most important component of my job is honest communication to all parties involved in the sale or purchase of a property.
A lot of younger people either move away from the area as they can’t find work in their chosen field or feel the need to experience life further afield. What has influenced your decision to stay on the Coffs Coast?
I do understand why some young people feel the urge to leave Coffs Harbour to experience life if they have grown up their entire life here on the Coffs Coast. However, I do believe the Coffs Coast allows all types of people the chance to experience life and expand their education and careers. We have an amazing culture and diversity in Coffs Harbour, with a variety of events that are offered throughout the year.
We have an amazing landscape and unique positioning, where we can be on farm land one minute and be on the beach the next. On the issue of finding work, when we study we have a blinkered perception of what we can do with our studies. What a lot of graduates do not know is how we are able to take our studies and apply them to a variety of roles and careers. Being able to adapt your studies to a particular career is major advantage in the application process.
In your opinion, what needs to be improved in the local area to help make it easier for younger generations to stay and enjoy decent careers?
More knowledge and encouragement is needed for young people to stay on the Coffs Coast. We are blessed with an amazing environment and culture, but we are not encouraged to stay and develop/grow that diversity. Another thing that needs to change would be the idea that graduates must land their dream job straight away. It may take a little longer, as it takes more than studies to be successful. It takes hard work, time, a positive attitude and determination for a graduate to acquire their dream job. We can encourage this patience and determination to help young people stay on the Coffs Coast. We can show them that there are many avenues that can help them reach their desired career!
There seems to be a trend of younger people venturing into politics; could we see you one day running for council?
At this current stage I haven’t thought of venturing into council; however, I do believe there is a need for fresh ideas and a younger perspective in all areas of our local community. But like I said, at this current time in my life it has not crossed my radar to run myself.
You also are an active member of Rotary. What is it that attracted you to this organisation, and how do they help the local community?
Rotary is an organisation that doesn’t just focus on an international level, but on a local level as well. As a current youth leader for Harbour Church, I found it important to look for different organisations that are passionate for young locals and helping them with their variety of needs. I found Rotary are very passionate in helping local youth as well as many other areas of our local and international community. Assisting in both areas allows me to give back to the community.
If you could have lunch with one person from the past or present, who would it be and why?
Simon Cowell, The Britian’s Got Talent producer. I find his story very interesting – he has created and branded the biggest boybands, girl groups and solo artists the world has ever seen. In his early 30s he was completely broke and reinvented himself to be highly successful. I am interested in knowing how he overcame his situation and how he pushed himself to be where he envisioned. I have no desire to be a millionaire, but I do believe there is an advantage to understanding how successful people conduct themselves, because they have goals, drive and purpose. These attributes can be used in any aspect of life, be it sport, study or work.
What are your plans for the future?
My current plans for the future are to continue working as a youth leader, with the desire to go further in this role and to continue to be a part of the great work Red Frogs are doing in the local area and nationally. I will be focusing on building my real estate career in the local area with the skills I have from SCU, previous employment and on site training at Century 21. In my personal life, I am beginning to plan a wedding with my fiancée, and setting up the opportunities for our future.