From state school to start-up: Things I wish I knew

When I graduated in June 2021, I was completely unsure of what I wanted to be or do. During university, I had constantly put off thinking about real life after graduation, blocking out everyone talking about their corporate plans and grad schemes. It was stressful and overwhelming and easy to feel lost.

After I applied for Jumpstart in August and became part of their 7th cohort in September, things moved very quickly. By introducing me to start-ups and their founders directly, they made entering the world of work so much less daunting.

Here’s a couple of things they taught me that would have been useful to know when I first graduated:

First, start-ups are an amazing place to start if you don’t know what you want to be/do. They span so many different industries - from fintech, to women’s health, insurance, travel, food, or fashion. And, as small teams on big missions, who believe in pushing boundaries, disrupting traditional industries and inspiring change, they’re all so exciting. The potential roles you could are really varied too - from founder’s associate, to operations, marketing, product, sales, analyst or customer success. Starting in any role as part of such a small team is incredible as you have significant opportunities for learning and growth either within your role, or moving to different areas of the business as it grows and you find out what you enjoy.

Second, start-ups are not exclusive. They aren’t looking only for those with corporate training, or even just those with seemingly more confidence in their abilities. Jumpstart gave me all the confidence I needed to go into interviews. During the training I developed a skill set that I can apply to any job, covering topics like communication, problem solving, prioritisation and excel - vital things that they don’t teach at school or university. They also showed me that I, as a grad with little experience, was so useful for a start-up. We are enthusiastic and willing to get involved in the nitty gritty, and we are flexible and able to rapidly learn and pick up skills.

I started working at Kair as Founder’s Associate in November. The company launched 5 months ago, and it was founded by a fashion CEO who realised that the most overlooked category in fashion’s sustainability crisis was clothing aftercare. They have re-imagined laundry, supporting responsible consumption by helping fashion lovers extend clothing life, so that they can buy less and wear more.

My first couple of months on the job have been amazing. I’ve been working by the founder’s side, but also taking direct responsibility for growing the business - grabbing my hands around the retail pipeline and getting stuck in, drawing up the target list of which fashion brands or boutiques we should be approaching and helping to create a model that is scalable across many locations. I’m playing a unique role in the creation of this game-changing consumer brand from the very beginning, transforming perception of this overlooked category and positioning laundry as central to fashion aftercare.

When I graduated in June, I would never have dreamed that this was where I would be a few months down the line - and I’m so grateful to Jumpstart for showing me

what's possible.

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