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From Seminars To Startups: Life As A Graduate at Curve

29 Jan 2020
8 min read

University is a strange beast, isn’t it? If you're lucky enough to be able to afford to go in the first place, as you enter though the swipe card gates into the sacred citadels of academia, we feel like we are going to shed the skin of our provincial hometowns, reinvent ourselves & change the world.

When the initial excitement has worn off and you are battling persistent freshers’ flu in your rented room that makes Harry Potter’s cupboard seem like a penthouse, it is natural to question whether you've made the right decision.

Fast forward through the endless cycle of Jägerbombs, instant noodles and creeping black mould, it can be somewhat deflating to know that your future may be decided by a poorly bound dissertation that you'll be paying back for the rest of your life. 

You're looking for your first job and to get it you need to have some experience - but how do you get experience if you haven't got a job? As well as sounding like a discarded Morrissey lyric this is the perennial cycle that all bright-eyed job seekers find themselves in. 

Curve is a company that prides itself on identifying talent beyond how long your CV is or how many years you have worked in the ‘industry’. We have dozens of open roles available across all of our teams - check out our careers page. 

Here, Leo, Camila and Isabella, who joined us straight from university, discuss degree choices, careers advice and their job hunting experiences that lead to them signing on the dotted to work at one of the UK’s hottest startups. 🔥

Leo Parkes-Neptune - Junior Data Engineer

What did you study at University?

I studied theoretical physics at UCL, graduating in 2019. Throughout school I really enjoyed physics and maths, so I decided to take them at A-Level and this naturally informed my decision of what I would go onto study next. 

What was your career advice service like at university? 

I didn’t get any. None at all. It was generally assumed that in your penultimate year you should have an internship lined up and convert that to a graduate job or just apply for graduate jobs directly. Aside from signing us up to a few suggested job fairs, we weren’t pushed to do much else. 

What was your job hunting experience like after you graduated? 

My experience of finding internships and jobs was horrible. I was attending interview after interview, completing competency tasks for every single one and still getting nowhere. You invest so much time in the application process that it quickly becomes very demotivating when you’re constantly rejected or ignored. 

I was already working part-time at Sainsbury's - a job that I had whilst I was studying - so I decided to tone things down, relax and enjoy my summer. 

How did you find your way to Curve?

I was already a Curve user, so I was aware of the company and how the product worked but I hadn’t looked at roles they had or even considered a career in Fintech. I attended a careers fair on a whim and was very surprised to see that Curve were there. I had the chance to speak with the talent team about all things data, tech and the open roles that they were hiring for. 

After swapping details I was contacted for a telephone interview, which went really well. This was followed by a face-to-face interview with the Data Team leads and here I am!

What advice would you give to new graduates who are looking to start their career at a startup?  

My advice would be to be open minded, willing to learn and don’t lie. I noticed in my interview that it’s okay to say if you don’t know the answer to something; no-one expects you know everything straight away & people understand that.

You will be able to learn the things you don’t know as you grow in your role. There is an amazing learning and development culture at Curve that encourages you to theorise and test the solution to any problem you may encounter.

Camila Mollard - Junior Project Manager

What did you study at University?

I went to university in Argentina and spent a semester studying medicine, a year & a half studying engineering before deciding on business economics. I settled on a degree that would give me the broadest range of options and transferable skills that could be applied to any industry. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do afterwards so I didn't want to restrict myself. 

What was your career advice like at University?

I never really took any advice because at the end of the day I needed to ask myself what I wanted. The advice I received from people was a little more conservative and safe, so I decided to go my own way and see what happened. If you have a clear understanding of where you want to be in 5/10 years and everything you need to do to get there, you still need to be flexible as things can change very quickly for so many reasons.

How did you find your way to Curve?

I was looking for jobs in Argentina but I wasn’t able to find anything substantial so I decided to take a gamble and move to London. I believe that it is a city where you can truly build your career from the bottom up; a year and half ago I was a receptionist in a hotel & now I’m a project manager. 

I was interviewing for a different company when Curve asked me to come in and meet the team. I knew straight away that these are the kind of people I want to work with and be surrounded by. Everyone was high energy, smart and switched on & I thought that it would be a good fit for me.

What advice would you give to new graduates who are looking to start their career at a startup?

You need to be sure that this is the right environment for you. Fintechs and start-ups look really cool from the outside - which they are - but it also requires a lot of hard work & patience which can be seen as quite negative for some but the positives are really worth it. People should just go for it because you don’t know until you try. If you do enjoy the environment then it can be extremely gratifying, as you know that your work is making a difference.

Isabella Manghi - Security Analyst

What did you study at university?

I studied for my masters in Public Administration in Digital Technologies and Public Policy at UCL and before that I studied Politics at Cardiff.

I didn’t necessarily always want to do a masters but my dissertation professor moved to UCL to run the programme. This combined with the realisation that I that I didn’t want to go into the public sector anymore, meant that it was a very easy decision in the end. 

What was your job hunting experience like after you graduated?

I didn’t know about Curve before applying for a role I saw on Linkedin. The job specs worked for me and although I didn’t have enough experience I applied anyway because there was nothing to lose in doing so. 

I was still writing my final thesis when I received my job offer. I told the team that I would need time to go back to uni to finish my degree. Everyone was very understanding and I was allowed to take as much time as I needed before joining full time.

What was your career advice like at university? 

At UCL we were given no advice other than that the job market is very competitive and the more experience you have the better; without telling us how to gain said experience.... The careers advice service at Cardiff was the complete opposite and they really took the time to help you on a personal level. 

What advice would you give to new graduates who are looking to start their career at a startup? 

If you don’t think that you have the right qualifications or experience for the job, just apply anyway as you have nothing to lose. When it comes to the interview, just be as honest as you can. If you don’t know the answer to a question just say that you don’t know. The interviewer will appreciate that a lot more than if you pretend and fluff your way through it. 

If you’re just about to start just relax and don’t sweat it. Also, don’t wear a suit on your first day because no-one else will be!

We're hiring! 

Are you fresh out of university, still studying but want to get ahead of the game or are looking to change your career? We want to hear from you! 

We have loads of open roles available across all of our teams - check out our open roles on our careers page. 

As well as having a top job at a rapidly scaling company, you’ll get gym access, free yoga on site, Japanese lessons (optional!), learning & development budget, unlimited books budget, £75 a month wellness budget, and a free Curve Metal card for you and your +1. Our office is dog friendly, with free pizza “lunch and learns”, regular social events and Friday drinks! So just a few perks then…

Please do reach out to our talent team at talent@imaginecurve.com if you have any questions!

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