Defying stereotypes — and gravity — one of our work students here at N26 is a female Brazilian pilot finishing her Master’s in International Aviation Management. Yes, you read that right. We interviewed her to find out what keeps her flying high and motivated while working and studying.
Can you introduce yourself and what you do at N26?
My name is Beatriz, I’m from Brazil, and I am a working student in Customer Operations at N26.
What are you studying?
Well, it’s a long story. When I was 13, I decided I wanted to figure out what I should do with my life; I needed a purpose. At the time, my favorite book was The Little Prince, which as you may know starts with a plane crash.
I’m not sure how that exactly contributed to my passion for flying, but, the truth is that it made me start researching about it. Up until then, I hadn’t thought about becoming a pilot as a woman, because most of the pilots we see around are men. Growing up, I assumed that only men were pilots. However, I realized that wasn’t the truth, and that it was something I could do.
I got very focused on becoming a pilot, and by the age of 17, I flew a plane for the first time.
While I took flying courses, I also did my bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Sciences in Brazil, for which I wrote a thesis titled “The Influence of Military Conflicts on the Potential Development of Aviation: An Economic Issue?”.
I then came to Germany to study International Aviation Management at IUBH Berlin. And here I am!
Wow! Impressive story! So what made you choose Aviation Management?
Although I absolutely love flying, I realized that it limited my future’s possibilities. One day I’d like to have a family, and for that, you need a more stable life than a pilot has. So I wanted to have a second option. Aviation Management was the perfect match because it was broad enough but still included many of the things I love about aeronautics and aviation.
So far, N26 is not in the aviation business. What brought you here?
Fortunately, studies during my master degree’s first semester focused on International Management from a more generic perspective. It opened my eyes to other possibilities and decided I wanted to try something else out. I then applied to become a university ambassador for N26, which lead me to learn more about the company and to later join as a working student.
I gained interest in N26 because I like its value position: the product, the business model, the way N26 sees the future of banking. From a user perspective, N26 is the perfect fit for me as a student abroad: not only is it mobile-first and straightforward, saving me a lot of awkward and stressful trips to a bank branch, it also offers customer support in English, which can be a life-saver for many expats.
What was it like being a student Ambassador of N26?
Being a student ambassador for N26 means being the point of contact at your university for anything N26-related. Students can come to us to learn more about the company and the product, and we keep an eye on any important partnerships or events for N26. It’s an interesting project because, more and more, we see traditional banks at universities’ welcome days or opening their own branches on campus. So being a part of how N26 competes with that, being in charge of how that happens on my campus, is quite rewarding.
My favorite thing about being an ambassador of N26 is seeing the interest of people when I communicate the brand; they are absolutely amazed.
How was flying for the first time?
The first time I flew a plane myself was very overwhelming. I felt I had no control. At the same time, it really fueled my wish to learn more and do better. I’ve logged around 300 flying hours, so I would say I definitely have.
What is the one thing you love the most about flying?
Flying to me is incredible because it puts me in control of this enormous human-made machine that defies older generations’ assumptions and gravity. It also gives me an incredible feeling of freedom.
Tell us more about what you’re doing at N26.
My role is as a Customer Operations working student. That means I work in improvement and optimization initiatives for our Customer Support team. Currently, I’m spending most of my time mapping out information and coming up with new ideas for optimization.
I would say my main source of motivation is the environment and the fact that at N26, even as a working student, I have the chance to contribute with my own ideas and to see my impact on the results.
We’re sure balancing your work at N26 and your studies isn’t easy. What tips would you give to students in the same situation?
I would say the only tough part is to manage meetings with teachers, as they expect you to be quite flexible and that’s not always the case. However, as soon as I explain my job to my professors and introduce them to N26, they respect my work and understand that I might have a stricture schedule to follow. It’s also common that they find the product exciting and ask to hear more about N26.
My tip would be not to mix university and work at all. To me, that’s the trick to being balanced as a working student: I totally forget about N26 when I’m at school and the other way around.
Of course, I’m still an ambassador when I’m at university, so it’s not that straightforward!
What makes a good working student at N26?
You must be results-driven and be able to push yourself to try new things and challenge yourself. Always be creative.
I would also say that it’s essential to be a team player because all of our ideas are built together, no one can work alone, and no one should.
My favorite thing about my team’s culture is that everyone is super focused. We’re not here just to do our jobs and go home at 6:00, we want to see results. We’re restless and we constantly push further. It’s really rewarding.
I think our culture is reflected in some of our internal moments. For example, we meet each Monday to discuss our “Monday Commitments.” The entire company attends so we all feel that we are individually responsible for the company and its results. I appreciate such a horizontal environment.
Do you have any tips for someone applying to join the team?
The most important thing when you’re preparing for an interview at N26 is to know everything about the product. You must be a customer. Everyone here is passionate about the product so if you’re looking to join, you must be as well.
Let’s talk about Berlin. What led you to moving here?
I moved here eight months ago, and it was a great decision. It’s a super cosmopolitan city but still has its own personality. It’s full of culture and a bit crazy, but still a bit German. You can see that in some of the ways it’s organized.
I would say my favorite thing about Berlin is that you can always do something different; there is constantly something going on, and there’s always something to fit your mood.
If you’re planning to move to Berlin, you have to keep in mind that people here aren’t very emotional, and you cannot expect anyone to guide you and hold your hand along the way.
If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Definitely Vancouver. There you have all the seasons; you have the ocean and the mountains. Plus, you don’t need a car to survive there! I’ve had the pleasure to live in Canada in the past, and it still baffles me how open-minded everyone is there. Canadians accept everybody, even someone who’s close-minded.
I went there once I finished University in Brazil because it was tough finding a job in my area in my city, Goiania, so I wanted to take the opportunity to go to a more developed country.
I was born in the middle of the jungle in Brazil in a small city called Cacoal, Rondonia, and I moved to Goiania when I was 9, where I stayed until after uni.
Growing up in Brazil in such small cities definitely made me who I am today, with the simplicity of the Amazon and the more industrial environment of Goiania.
What do you miss about Brazil?
I miss the warmth of the people. And I really miss the food. All the food. Anywhere you eat in Brazil, you know it’s going to be good.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Just one last one: If you had to go back to traditional banks and couldn’t use N26 anymore, what would you miss the most?
Being able to do everything on my phone. I hate having to go to a branch to solve simple problems. I appreciate not having to talk to anyone to manage my finances!
We’re looking for students just like Beatriz: who are passionate about revolutionizing the banking industry across Europe. Sound like you? Apply here.