Why I quit my 100K job in Finance to work as an Intern at a start-up
October 2015 — A private office, a comfy chair, a name and title on the door: this kind of work set-up would sound appealing to a vast majority of people. A good pay check every month, enough to purchase an array of custom-fitted suits, matching ties, belts and shoes. A nice flat, gadgets, a car, a moped and good food every night. Respect from peers, friends, girlfriend and of course, your family.
Yet the day to day reality of the job, speaks a different language: stiff meetings whereby Junior Managers are unable to voice real concerns, team leads who find themselves in their mid-to-late 40’s, happy with the work they have been doing and the salaries they have been getting becoming more and more complacent, and general scapegoating at its finest. Myopic Bosses, meaningless meetings, and generally a culture that seems reluctant to accept changes of any kind. But hey, my new shoes and my new belt go swimmingly together. Slick. Lunch conversations that would put any raver maxed out on half a gram of MDMA to sleep. (Even those complimentary keys of cocaine to keep the high going, wouldn’t stop the overwhelming boredom and sleepiness.) Internal company calls, where it oftentimes became difficult to tell whether you were speaking to a competitor or a colleague in the same company… the list goes on. But hey, I am loving my new TV and sound-system. The bass is unbelievable. Think I am going to take my Tinder date to that new pricey looking Asian restaurant tonight.
January 2016 — So I quit. I did not really have a plan. All I knew is that I really needed to get away from work. For a couple of weeks, I just enjoyed doing nothing, like most people would until the day I started actively looking for new jobs. I knew that I had enough of Corporate Finance for a while, which is why I started looking towards the other side of the Business spectrum: Marketing. And hang on. What is this? Rocket Internet the German start-up factory actually has a couple of ventures in Munich my hometown. One of them CupoNation. Game rooms, juice bars, unlimited fruit and muesli, bean bags, beach chairs, 2 fridges full of Germany’s finest beer and a “Beer o’clock” event every Friday at 5pm, certainly sounded intriguing. But I was sceptical. Start-ups did not seem appealing to me. Was it the media hyped modern working culture of “creativeness”, seemingly cultivated through workplace perks like table-tennis? Maybe. However, I was curious and wanted to find out for myself. So I applied. The interview was…interesting. “Name 10 ways you would make money with an apple tree, go!”. “Ehhh…what? Sorry ok… right…”. Quite early on, after the initial contact was made, I quickly realised, what I had gotten myself into. Though little did I know, how much I would enjoy the upcoming experience. I was employed mid-April 2016 as in Online Marketing Intern. Oh man…really, Intern again? Ah whatever, just do it, stop whining. Never did I once get the impression that I was an Intern, at all. After the initial training week, which admittedly involved 30% training and 70% me anxiously trying to figure out what the f**** is going, I was involved in campaigns, meetings, and took ownership for the ideas I was brave enough to put forward, and responsibility for the things I produced. My team became a family, the other company employees my friends. Weaknesses were tolerated and tackled, strengths were nurtured.
October 2016 — A loud and oftentimes stuffy Country Room (endearingly called the “Biergarten” or “Beergarden”), which hosts around 60 people, including a central Marketing team, a central operations team and country teams like Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Australia, all manically typing, laughing and shouting. Table conversations ranging from content marketing ideas which entertain all aspects of the absurdity spectrum, to unorthodox ways to entertain employees and a culture, whereby new and current employees are welcomed into the teams immediately and are automatically flooded with responsibilities, is intoxicating. One day you’re a recent BA Graduate, the next day you’re in charge of Content Marketing for an entire country or region. Despite multiple offices around the Globe (Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Sao Paolo), the Munich HQ combines a vastly international team of around 150 people. A close working relationship with senior management and the founders, makes for an exciting working climate. Hierarchies are flat, respect and fun are high. The pressure is always on, especially because of the close working relationship with the co-founders. The employees themselves come from a variety of different backgrounds, both academic and non-academic. The strange combination of pressure and fun, makes for an interesting learning experience, that I would recommend to anyone.
Well that was that. So to sum up: best choice I ever made. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself the following, and don’t be put off by the cheesiness of this statement: waking up every morning and wanting to go to work and wanting to speak to the people you work with, and knowing that you can grow as a human being whilst enjoying the freedom of autonomous work is something I think everyone should strive for.