With a strong sense of community and collaboration, an emphasis on creativity, and a growing entrepreneurial spirit, London’s tech sector is a magnet for Europe’s highest-quality talent, tempting many aspiring innovators away from their jobs in corporates.
Laura Robinson and Marija Butkovic are recent graduates of Startup Institute, an 8-week immersive program that helps individuals to break into the startup scene. We asked them a few questions about how they ended up in the startup world and why they chose Startup Institute, and they agreed to share their experiences.
Why did you decide that working at a startup was the right move for your career?
Laura: The minute I knew that it was time to leave my job in a corporate was that I’d have rather done ANY other job out there. The one thing keeping me going was my love for tech. I would eagerly digest the latest blogs/articles/startups and was fascinated at the pace of which tech was evolving. I longed to return to a workplace that was nimble, encouraged creativity, rapid progress, and focused on results rather than titles. These traits tend to be synonymous with startups and allow for continuous learning and a challenging career.
Marija: After eight years spent in a corporate legal world, I was good at it, but I just didn’t love it anymore. Aware of the fact that I needed a drastic change, I just didn’t know what to do and where to start. I wanted to be creative, change the world and make an impact to community. But how? Startup Institute’s programme offered both education and good scanning of the whole market. It was different and unique. And when you’re 31 and changing a career, like me, you don’t want to spend too much time on it. So I packed my bags and moved from Croatia to London.
How did the Startup Institute programme help you with the change?
Laura: The combination of startup experience at the Startup Institute is vast! We were advised on every startup nuance from networking, job applications and equity through to the hard and soft skills required when working in small teams. Having the SI programme there to support you through the navigation into the startup world was essential. I wouldn’t have got there without the programme or the incredible friends I made as part of it
Marija: There was no typical day. Being a part of sales & account management track made me realise that sales is actually everything in a startup. Sales is more than sales. It’s pitch, community management, PR, recruiting. Great instructors, open doors events, career fairs, hackathons and even more was part of this experience. Former alumni, as well as our wonderful staff, were always ready to help. I couldn’t make it without them; they were my family during the eight weeks.
What were your major takeaways from the program?
Laura: Technology is constantly evolving, so dive into it now and learn as you go. This is particularly true in technical marketing as new techniques and tools crop up daily. Be yourself and find a startup that aligns with your beliefs and personality. A startup’s team fit and culture should match your personality in order to bring out the best in you. Finally, always be networking! In the startup industry, every opportunity revolves around your interactions with others. It’s a great skill to have once mastered and can open up many doors.
Marija: It’s very important that you feel safe when you’re exploring a new territory. At Startup Institute, it’s was okay to make mistakes and ask questions. You’ll learn that public speaking and elevator pitches are easier than you think. You’ll learn that there are more than a few companies interested in hiring you, because you are skilled and you know more than you think. Last but not least, you will have a lot of fun along the way. Would I repeat this experience? The answer is not yes, the answer is “When do I start?”.
A big thank you to the alumni of Startup Institute London’s inaugural class Laura Robinson (Growth-Hacker at TrueUp, @TreatQueen ) and Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic), who studied technical marketing and sales & account management tracks, respectively.