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Jonathan Cook

Machine Learning, Strategy & Product Operations

Massachusetts '11

Career Path
Career PathUniversity of Michigan, Penn State, New York University Career SectorBusiness
  • Grad School: Penn State University

    As an undergrad at University of Michigan, Jon majored in movement science. He put his studies to use as a weight training coach at an Ann Arbor high school, guiding his students toward college athletic scholarships. As a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State, Jon realized he wanted to work with students in the science community, which led him to learn more about TFA.

  • Teach For America: Greater Boston Corps

    At Salem Academy Charter School, Jon taught high school biology, chemistry, and AP Environmental Science. After one year, he became science department chair.

  • Graduate School, NYU

    Jon returned to being a student, earning an M.B.A. from NYU’s Stern School of Business. He spent time working as an intern for the Clinton Foundation.

  • Project Leader, The Boston Consulting Group

    After earning his graduate degree, Jon became a consultant in a variety of fields, from global health to education.

  • Google

    Jon joined Google in 2018 as a platform strategy and operations lead, then transitioned to work in machine learning, strategy, and product operations.

Dr. Jonathan Cook’s love for science led him to Teach For America, where he taught high school biology, chemistry, and AP Environmental Science as a corps member.

Jon holds a B.S. in movement science from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin, a Ph.D. in physiology from Penn State University, and an M.B.A. from New York University, where he spent one summer as an intern for the Clinton Foundation creating expansion strategy for an artisan goods manufacturer.

Q & A

What led you to apply to Teach For America?

As a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State, I started to think that long-term, I wanted to pursue something that combined science and business. However, before making the transition, I started to look at ways that I could give back to the science community and work with students in a leadership role.  After learning about TFA, the challenge, and the mission, it was exactly what I wanted to do next.

What were some of the major lessons you learned during the corps? When you think about yourself before and after the corps, what changed?

TFA was a catalyst for personal transformation for me. Our students did well on the state assessment, but you live their struggles just as much as their successes. No one truly knows how they’ll respond when a student hasn’t been able to do their homework because their electricity was cut off or they are now homeless. Being a teacher required much more from me than I could ever have imagined.

How have you applied the skills and beliefs you developed in the corps to your current job?

Working as a consultant requires extensive critical thinking, client management, and project planning skills—things I learned and developed in the classroom. When I’m dealing with a difficult client or need to facilitate a meeting, it’s important to get to the root cause for why a client has an issue. As a teacher, you learn the issue is not always what it looks like on the surface.