While most people can only prioritize one big project at a time, imagine managing a baking business while simultaneously working on getting into medical school. This is precisely what The University of Alabama student, Rachael Cowan, has been accomplishing.
Trying to prioritize her time between taking orders, baking, studying and maintaining free time to hang out with her friends and family may seem like too much to handle, but Cowan made it look easy.
Cowan said she always knew she wanted to go the medical route ever since watching her father switch careers from engineering to anesthesiology. For her, watching how much her father sacrificed to go back to school and become a doctor was the most inspiring thing that she had ever seen. After seeing how content and happy her father became doing something he loved, she was interested in joining the premed circuit at UA.
Another reason Cowan felt so strongly about the medical field was an accident her grandmother, whom she referred to as Grammy, went through. She explained, “When I was eleven, my Grammy was involved in a serious car accident and is now paralyzed from her waist down. There were several personal experiences I had with doctors and in the hospital throughout her treatment process that encouraged me to pursue becoming a physician.” To go through something so tragic and then have a good experience with the doctors and professionals attending to her grandmother was also a huge factor in her decision to try and join the medical field.
Cowan’s love of baking goes almost as far back as her love for medicine. She worked for a bakery for multiple years during high school, which jump-started her desire to start her own business.
“Also, during freshman year, my Instagram explore page was taken over by cookie and cupcake decorating videos, and I got more and more sucked into the baking and decorating world. I learned a lot from these videos and felt like I could do it too. I was at home that summer and was feeling bored, so I purchased a bunch of necessary tools and started baking and decorating,” she added.
Cowan then started a different Instagram account (@ra.bakes) to keep all her decorating and baking contained in a specific place to watch her progress. As she progressed with her baking, her friends started asking her to make treats for special events and birthdays, which got her even more into the baking field.
Once Cowan realized that she could make a business out of her baking, it exploded from there. Her business boomed so fast, she felt overwhelmed and wasn’t entirely sure how to prioritize her time between school and baking. She found it hard to turn people down when she was overwhelmed with school and had too many orders.
When she first started, she struggled with managing her time and how hard it would be to balance baking and school. She explained, “In the beginning, it was a lot harder than I expected. I think that is primarily because the business was going through a lot of changes, and I was still getting used to everything. Customers kept sharing the orders I made for them in parent Facebook groups, and I would get overwhelmed with follows and order requests for a few days straight. Now, I have better systems in place that help me stay on top of everything. Having both of these responsibilities has improved both my time management and organizational skills.”
Like many other young entrepreneurs, Cowan successfully dealt with her problems and found a way to balance school, baking and finding free time. “To me, school will always come first, but if I have an order, then that is also a top priority. I have found that I study better during the day rather than at night. So, if I have a busy school day, I will focus on school during the day and then work on the orders later when I don’t have to think as hard. This has worked out for me on those really busy days,” she said.
Starting her baking service while working toward medical school was difficult for her but ultimately gave her the ability to perfect time management and improve her organization.
Today, she is very proud of all the baking she does, and when asked about her favorite thing she’s ever baked, she responded, “One of my favorite designs was a set of Christmas cakesicles that I made a couple of years ago. They were the most involved set of cakesicles that I ever made, and it was a lot of fun to plan those out and then execute them.” She was also issued to create a “K” letterbox for someone’s birthday, and from then on, doing letter and number boxes has been her favorite and most popular request.
Overall, most people cannot handle managing time between starting a baking business and studying to be accepted into medical school. However, Cowan is one of the few who makes working for both of these things look easy.