When we last spoke with Adnan, Joseph, Philip and Vishal, they were just about to embark on their two-month journey as part of the first intake to Seccl’s Digital Academy. Four weeks on, we’ve caught up with them to find out how they’re getting on…
Before they joined the Academy, each of our four students had a pretty clear idea of the skills they hoped to hone during their time at Seccl. Have they been able to tick some off from their list?
“Absolutely – and even more than I had expected to”, Adnan tells us. “I’m learning a lot more coding-wise, and in a really short amount of time.
“And one of the things I’m getting to grips with that stands out in particular is UI design. I wasn’t interested in this before I joined – and assumed I’d be bad at it – but it turns out that I’m really enjoying it.”
As for Vishal, “I didn’t really know what to expect, but I wanted to see how a start-up is run, and build my business acumen.
“Having the chance to work on a business idea and develop a minimum viable product has really helped to apply what I’ve learned, in a way that really makes them stick in my head.
“The Academy is an accelerated learning environment.” – Vishal
“In fact, I think the best way to describe the Academy is as an accelerated learning environment. In just a week I’ve gone from no web development experience to building a website that is interactive and can render graphs and other visualisations. Sure, these are all things you could learn in your own time, but there’s no chance you’d do so anywhere near as fast as you can here.”
Adnan agrees. “Even at uni we didn’t learn this fast. And it’s because at the Academy you apply what you learn and see it work (or not) almost immediately.”
Joseph has particularly enjoyed speaking to people with different sets of expertise. “I really appreciate that we’ve got to meet and learn from a number of different people. It’s not only helped understand a bit more about how Seccl functions, but also what each of these various functions and job titles mean – and how career paths can develop and intersect.
“Last week we spoke to Simon Rogerson, the co-founder and CEO of the Octopus Group, and Kaustav Mitra, an analytics specialist who’s now setting up his own business while also working for Revolut. It’s really helpful to hear how others have got to where they are, and how progression doesn’t have to be about chasing promotions.”
“It’s really helpful to hear how others have got to where they are, and how progression doesn’t have to be about chasing promotions.” – Joseph
Philip has been surprised at how broad the Academy’s focus has been so far. “I expected it to be mostly about Seccl, but in fact we’ve been learning more generally about start-up culture and marketing, analytics, coding and more. And over the past two weeks we’ve had a lot of time to focus on our own business idea.”
So what’s this business idea they’ve been working on?
“The four of us are working together on one start-up concept”, Philip explains. “It’s basically a game designed to encourage young people to invest over the long term, by making it more accessible and interesting to people who might otherwise find it too complex (or boring).”
Vishal added, “Our theory is that if you can create an engaging way to introduce concepts such as compound interest, then people’s behaviour can change as a result.”
Joseph said, “We’ve gone a bit off brief, I suppose, in that we were asked to come up with a concept for a neatly self-contained fintech, but I do think it addresses a very real problem – namely the fact that many people our age are totally disengaged with investing.
“It’s been really interesting looking at customer lifetime value, the cost of acquisition and the like. These are all useful to learn as they form part of the range of skills required to start our own thing.”
A unicorn in the making? We’ll find out!
So has the last month changed their minds on what they’d like to do once they graduate?
“It’s not changed my goal”, Philip tells us, “ but it’s helpfully confirmed that there are so many things out there that I enjoy, so I can always explore new possibilities in the future if I want.”
“I never thought web development could be a career option for me. It’s really broadened my horizons” – Philip
“I had this realisation in a meeting with Sam Ollason (front-end developer at Seccl), who gave us some career advice. I never thought web development could be a career option for me, but he made it clear that it wouldn’t take long for it to be one, if I set my mind to it. It’s not something you think of coming from an economics degree, so it’s really broadened my horizons.”
“I agree” said Joseph; “I still don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I do know a lot more about what my options are. There are jobs out there that I hadn’t even heard of before.”
“The Academy has made me even more determined to try and start my own company.” – Adnan
For Adnan, the Academy has lit a fire. “It’s made me even more determined to try and start my own company. I know that I want to give this a go in my life.”
And as for Vishal, well, it’s thrown spanner in the works. “Now I don’t know what I want to do!”
If you’re a student who’d like to take part in our year-long Academy placement in September, then we’d love to hear from you. Just email us with a copy of your CV, and a paragraph or two about why you’d like to take part.
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