Grad is President and Founder of Multilingual & Philanthropic Inc.
Jazz Cole was raised in Lexington, Kentucky where she attended Lafayette Senior High School. After receiving a B.S. in Apparel Technical Design from FIDM in 2018, she founded Multilingual & Philanthropic Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports foreign language education, develops resources for businesses and professionals pursuing international opportunities, and builds study abroad scholarships. We caught up with Jazz to learn more about her endeavors, how her FIDM Paris Study Tour inspired the creation of the nonprofit, and what advice she’d share with others.
Tell us why you founded Multilingual & Philanthropic Inc. I was originally planning on starting some kind of blog about language learning as something concurrent with starting my career in the industry. I felt like that wasn’t effective enough so I started outlining a book about multilingualism and how it affects our lives. Later on I realized that required me getting the book into the right hands to read it, so I felt like a movement would work. My parents have a nonprofit organization that’s been very successful in our local community, so I felt that was something to do.
How did the Paris Study Tour play a role in developing your company? I was excited to go to Paris because I had been wanting to study French since I was a little girl and I took my first French class in the 6th grade then later finished AP French my senior year in high school. I was going to be a fashion designer, and move to Paris (my 10 year-old dream). This trip was my very first time out of the U.S., I was the only one that spoke semi-fluent French, and I did extensive culture research prior to departing so my experience looked different than the other participants. I wasn’t afraid to go off on my own and I found a church around the corner from our hotel and ended up making some friends I’m still in contact with today. Making local connections gave me a reason to come back to Paris.
When I started M&P Inc., I wanted to give others that same experience, the feeling of not being limited by a language barrier. Since then, I love traveling to make friends and connections with people who live there instead of staying in the tourist realm because I feel like people are missing out! We went to visit an atelier and the owner didn’t speak much English so I had the confidence to speak to him and he made a joke with me! Language learning is about broadening who you can talk to, everywhere I went, I wanted to make an effort to speak French as much as I could and I saw the benefits of such. I’m not a tourist, I love traveling with a purpose. I enjoy getting to know locals, their history, and culture.
How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? I believe I was prepared for my career by how real-world focused the instructors were. In the B.S. program for Apparel Technical Design, we were required to complete an internship for our program. This is what attracted me to FIDM in the first place because I didn’t want a traditional education where you sit and listen to professors lecture on theories all day. I enjoyed having instructors who challenged me to do better with my work.
Any advice you'd share with a current student or new graduate? First and foremost, study abroad! It will change your life to be able to see what your industry looks like in another country, especially if you have ambitions to work abroad later on. Learn a language if you can concurrently with your studies because it will help you have a lot more career opportunities. I now speak 10 languages, but I started learning Spanish and German at the same time when I was at FIDM. Learning just one foreign language can make you more marketable in the industry as something to set you apart, and you’ll have less limitations on where you can work.
The last thing I will say is to go spend time in the Student Activities department. There’s so much to get involved in to enrich your campus life. Making friends is a crucial part of your education because even though I’m not based in LA anymore, I have so many reasons to come back because I’ve built a community there. I’m a devoted Christian and I was looking for a church home and I managed to connect with some students of the same faith which led me to find the church community I was looking for. Student Activities will help you connect with someone who has similar interests and traits as you do. Just go in and say hi!
Learn more online at languageandpeople.org.