Breezing around photographic studios, positioning herself under warm lights and staring down the barrel of a camera comes naturally to 26-year-old Jess Holsman, but an on-screen career wasn’t part of the agenda when she was completing her Graduate Diploma of Psychology at Deakin University.
Rather than taking the expected route and becoming a psychologist when she graduated, Jess decided to use her knowledge of psychology in a different way – she made it her mission to help students get the most out of their education. Encouraging students to enjoy learning might sound like a big ask, but Jess is successfully tackling it by giving study tips to thousands of students around the world every week on YouTube.
While suffering burnout in pursuit of good grades, a situation all too common for students, Jess approached her lecturers for help. ‘They highlighted to me that the way I was approaching studying could actually be a lot more effective and a lot more fun,’ she explains. Her need for mental clarity led her to evaluate what she was pursuing and why. As she created mind maps and structured study sessions Jess realised: ‘I was actually energised when focusing more on what I could learn or get out of that course, rather than the grade that I wanted on that final paper.’
When she noticed her beautiful binders and diaries didn’t foster good study habits, she began a series of brainstorming sessions in her bedroom that resulted in seed.ED Educationery, a stationery line designed to help students structure assignments and homework to produce better work. And she didn’t stop there. ‘I wanted to think global and I wanted to make a change not just to one or two or ten or 100 students, I wanted to make a positive difference and be that role model for students all around the world,’ Jess explains.
The bright-eyed entrepreneur followed up the stationery by launching ‘Study with Jess’, a quirky, stylish YouTube series she writes and stars in. ‘I post weekly study tips to help inspire and motivate students to get the most out of their time at school and also university, so anything from how to study for their exams or write assignments or even live a well-balanced life,’ Jess says. It wasn’t easy though; she had no experience in YouTube or camera work. But thanks to her open mind and ability to teach herself new skills on the go, Jess has succeeded.
There’s a hunger for her slick selection of educational products. Having achieved more than five million views on her YouTube channel and a publishing deal for her book The High School Survival Guide, it’s clear that Jess’ fresh perspective will continue to make a difference in students’ lives.
'I wanted to think global and I wanted to make a change not just to one or two or ten or 100 students, I wanted to make a positive difference and be that role model for students all around the world.'
Graduate Diploma of Psychology graduate, Deakin University
Although she hasn’t followed a linear path, Jess’ approach to her career is rooted in psychology. The skills in empathy, personal motivation and emotional intelligence she developed have allowed her to be a reliable mentor to students. ‘Psychology taught me to realise that education and learning is a long game. It’s about discovering so much more about not only the area that you’re studying but also yourself, the kind of student you are and the kind of person that you want to be.’
She believes a key to her success is the ability to think on her feet and see prospects where others don’t. Her early achievements have cemented her resolve to take what she learned in psychology and keep applying it in innovative ways. ‘Being able to engage with my viewers, knowing that I’m making a difference in their lives and they can relate to what I’m saying, is hugely rewarding,’ she smiles.
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