The last few years of my life have hardly followed a linear path. When I finished my Business Economics undergraduate degree in the summer of 2015, I knew I didn’t want to jump head first into a graduate job like most of my friends. Instead, I travelled around Central America, worked as a sports instructor at the fantastic sports resort Club La Santa and took on a few other short-term jobs that ranged from project management to being a chalet host. Finding out what you do and don’t enjoy is all part of the fun, isn’t it?

I have always been curious about our society and how we can use technology to innovate, increase efficiency and reduce the need for humans having to do monotonous tasks. Therefore, as I began to explore how technology & data science were playing an increasing role in shaping our future as a society, I sensed the need to dip my toes back into the academic world.

Trying to carve out my own early career path looked a little like this.

Jumping back into studying

Having no prior experience in the world of data, I embarked on a master’s degree in Data Science, after completing a ‘pre-master’s’ course designed for people without a technical background such as myself. Why? Well I’m a curious person. Studying a business or economics master’s degree would have certainly been a much easier route. Yet I also knew I needed to stretch myself and broaden my knowledge in a field I was becoming increasingly interested in — the underlying element that is driving our decisions and shaping our views: data.

I learnt a few things from the master’s degree (as you’d hope!), but these were my key personal takeaways:

  • Data is used as fuel to feed the fire of modern-day applications ranging from data analytics to artificial intelligence and this is both fascinating and constantly evolving.
  • Not only is it fascinating, it truly is determining our current and future society, from the ascendancy of data-driven companies, to self-driving cars and smart cities. If you don’t adapt, you’ll get left behind.
  • I enjoyed working in innovative environments and in unfamiliar situations, yet I knew I didn’t want to pursue a future as a data scientist. Whilst I liked the problem-solving aspect of working in data science, I felt that my strengths lay in building relationships and focusing on creating value from a business perspective.

The question I asked myself upon finishing the degree was, ‘could I find a role in an exciting company that lay at the intersection between technology and business, where I could combine the knowledge gained during my university years with gaining invaluable industry experience?’

Time to look for a ‘real’ job

Over the past few years, the feeling of working for a start-up had been building inside me. I felt that I didn’t quite fit into a corporate culture and I simply wanted to ‘get things done’ in a company that I believed in, working towards a common goal with colleagues who shared that passion. How could I go about this if I didn’t know exactly what job I was looking for? I knew what I definitely didn’t want to do, which certainly reduced the number of opportunities to look for. But finding a young company that would take a punt on a recent graduate with little experience? Not so straightforward.

I was advised by many that the best way to approach this uncertainty was to reach out to people, start conversations and make the most of any connections I had. So that’s what I did. I contacted people in my network, trawled LinkedIn for ‘exciting young companies’ and tried to connect with employees at those companies. Many didn’t reply, some were extremely friendly but couldn’t offer me anything and a few just replied with links to job posts I’d already seen.

Introducing Harbr

Harbr was different from the first interaction I had with them after a friend had put me in touch with the Head of Presales, Jacob Deppe, who I now work closely with. Did I know what Harbr did? On a broad level yes. However, it didn’t quite click until Seb Drave, the Chief Data Scientist at Harbr, gave me a demo of Harbr’s platform.

I’ll jump to what Harbr does and why it’s such a great time to be joining the team shortly. Yet before I go onto this, I want to highlight how different the interviewing process was in comparison to my previous experiences. Whereas other companies had forwarded me on to particular job positions where I needed to have 5+ years of experience managing large teams, or analytical and coding knowledge of Tableau, Python & R; everybody I talked to at Harbr wanted to get to know me as a person and find out what I was looking for. To say that was refreshing is an understatement. I never applied for a particular position, but rather our many conversations led to the team creating a role for me inside their Customer Success team based on my interests & strengths. The interviews were a two-way conversation and I felt that I already knew half of the team before I was offered a job, which made the onboarding process that much easier.

So why Harbr? Well aside from the interviewing process, the company is building something truly impactful. By addressing the common frustration in data-driven environments of ‘I spend 80% of my time getting the data’, Harbr provides true value for organizations. By creating a cloud-based platform that allows enterprises to exchange, collaborate and monetize data and models, there are numerous use cases where this is extremely useful. Harbr are creating a whole new playing field, and this is pretty exciting!

Harbr’s data ecosystem: designed to manage and collaborate on different data projects in a secure environment.

Believing in the product is important, but arguably believing in the team around it is even more crucial. Everybody I spoke to prior to accepting the job offer was friendly, intelligent and united by a common goal. I felt that I could learn from the range of experiences within the team, an element that was very important for me at such an early stage in my career. Plus, I was constantly told that I had hit the jackpot with my manager, so I couldn’t really say no.

The combination of all of the above motivates me to get out of bed every morning — even if it is just a few steps to my bedroom desk! I’m grateful that Harbr placed their trust in an inexperienced guy who asks a lot of questions. It’s time to repay the favour.

Customer Success Consultant at Harbr, a cloud based data ecosystem platform.