Hot on the heels of our two-month summer Digital Academy, we recently kicked off a year-long placement with two bright young sparks from the University of Bath: Adnan Siddiquei (who was with us over Summer) and Yordan Monev.
We caught up with them over Zoom – with Adnan dialling in from Bath and Yordan coming live from Bulgaria – to find out what they’ve been up to and see how they’ve enjoyed month one of their placement year…
Tell us a bit about yourselves – what makes you tick, and how did you make it to Seccl?
“I’ve just completed the second year of my physics degree at the University of Bath”, Adnan tells us, “and will be returning to complete my third and final year after this placement with Seccl.”
“I was part of the Digital Academy that ran over the summer”, says Adnan, “and was really keen to stay on for another year, so that I could learn more about the company – and the tech industry more generally.”
“Outside of studying, one of my favourite activities is playing lacrosse alongside the Uni team. Unfortunately, this year training sessions clash with work, so I’m thinking of joining the Bath City lacrosse team and then I’ll be able to do both!”
Yordan, meanwhile, has travelled further to get here. “I did programming in Bulgaria, but decided that wasn’t the route I wanted to go down, and so I started a course in Management with Marketing at Bath Uni, alongside Adnan. In fact, my first time in the UK was at freshers’ week, which was a real culture shock!”
“I want to pursue marketing as a career, most likely in the finance or technology space, so when I heard about the opportunity to work for Seccl, it seemed pretty perfect.”
“I have the regrettable habit of gravitating towards hobbies I’m abysmal at, so when I tried salsa dancing last year I was hooked! I found that salsa practices have a way of turning bad days on their head. Whenever you least feel like dancing or even talking to people, that’s the best time for salsa.”
It’s early days, but what have you been up to so far?
“I’m currently with Paul in the product team”, says Adnan. “I’ve spent my time attending product meetings and shaping sessions, but also working on prototyping, where I review new feature requests from clients and help with design requirements.”
“Design is something I’d never really given any thought before, but I sort of fell into it during the Digital Academy, when we were preparing our final pitch presentation, and have come to really enjoy it. In fact, the Academy was really helpful preparation in lots of ways; it gave me exposure to a whole host of different areas and skills, like unit economics, coding, business strategy, growth marketing – you name it.”
And Yordan? “We’re given the freedom to balance breadth and depth, either rotating between departments or going all-in on one. I’ve started in marketing with Stu, and I’ll probably stay here to be honest. I had a chat with Henry, our Head of Bizops, and he made their work sound pretty compelling… but I love marketing so far, and can’t see that changing.
“The first thing I was tasked with was going through various sections of our website and asking ‘is this necessary?’, ‘is it driving enquiries?’, ‘is it doing its job well enough?’.
“We found some sections aren’t very valuable to our customers in their current form; for example the FAQ section is a bit overwhelming – and we find that people still contact us with questions that are answered there. So I’ve created a mock-up for an FAQ restructure.”
Heavyweight stuff! What else are you hoping to get stuck into?
Growth marketing is my interest area. Making things as appealing as possible and driving conversion through strong brand image is my passion. I had a YouTube channel that I grew to twenty thousand subscribers, and while I enjoyed creating the content, what I loved was optimizing my thumbnails, titles and visuals to catch the eye,” said Yordan.
As for Adnan, “I’m finding everything I’m learning interesting, and want to experience as much of the tech side of the business as possible. After my current three-month placement with product I’m going to Bizops, and then the engineering team.
“Getting to grips with a new area is made easier by the fact that we get unlimited access to Udemy. It’s great for someone like me, who likes to learn new things.”
Do you have any tips for others who may be looking for their first career (or a new one) at the moment?
“Well, I guess we’ve still got the joy of finding a full-time job ahead of us, but I’d certainly say this: experience proves there’s some room for positivity,” says Adnan.
“It’s heartening to know that some companies are still hiring. I’m just trying to work on a broad set of skills that’ll help me adapt”, he added.
“Yeah, adaptability is key”, Yordan agreed, “but I also think it’s a good idea to think beyond the typical ‘grad scheme’ employers, to more ‘niche’ opportunities.
“Innovative, younger companies are the ones that are doing well and growing, even in today’s challenging climate – while the big companies, which would normally be the obvious choice for graduates, are probably the ones least likely to hire right now. So I’d definitely suggest seeking out the smaller, more nimble tech companies that can promise the start of a great career.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
A big thanks!
Finally, I wanted to say a massive thanks to the University of Bath Careers Service, without whom our Digital Academies wouldn’t be possible.
You all do amazing work – not just with students but with employers large and small, local and national – and we’re hugely grateful for all your support. We look forward to meeting many more bright young University of Bath students over the coming years!
If you’re interested in working at Seccl, check out our careers page to see our open roles. And don’t worry if none of them look totally right. Just get in touch with me at email@example.com – and start the conversation!