When I was an undergraduate at Oxford University studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, I remember being thoroughly depressed by the career options available to me.
The only employers that I heard about were the big banks, accountancy giants and law firms. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I had a feeling it wasn’t any of those things.
As my time at university wore on I grew increasingly anxious about my future. Even a three-year commitment to a graduate scheme seemed daunting. I’d heard stories about people who joined graduate schemes at banks and never left – too scared to leave their generous salaries and comfortable lifestyles behind.
And if I had to pinpoint a reason why I didn’t follow my peers I’d say it was because of a stint I spent abroad. Aged 19, I worked for a newspaper in central America. I was sent to conferences, lunched with diplomats and quizzed development experts over cups of Guatemalan coffee. In my first month, I interviewed the president of a small Central American country. My time away showed me there were alternatives to the big blue chip employers. It encouraged me to look beyond the careers chosen by my friends and family and it stoked a curiosity and love of adventure that still resides in me today.
After quitting my job to go traveling in 2013, I ended up collaborating with startups miles from home in one of Asia’s fast growing startup hubs. I’ve since helped launch several startups and it struck me as a great education for anyone interested in ever having their own business. Not only is it more fun being away from home, but you get to work with a unique mix of international talent: Londoners work with San Franciscans, Melburnians mix with Vancouverites – and so on.
Start Me Up helps more young people experience life at a startup by connecting them with hard-to-find opportunities abroad.