Responsibility, growth and promotion: 9 months into working at a startup

4 Minute Read

Maia (October 2020 cohort) chats with us about her experiences at a fast-growing startup, 9 months into the role.

Hey Maia, thank you for chatting to the Jumpstart blog!

Let’s start with the important question – where do you work?

I work at Quell. The company launched in 2020, and it was founded by four friends: Cameron, Martin, Lorenzo and Doug. They had a vision that exercise didn’t have to be boring, and they wanted to combine it with the best parts of gaming to create a really immersive (and sweaty) experience. I was the first employee, and now we’re a team of 20 and continuing to grow.

Really exciting company. So what is your role?

I started working at Quell in October last year as Chief of Staff, where I was doing marketing, operations and community management. But I’ve recently been promoted to Junior Producer! This means that I’m the voice for exercise efficacy in design and production. I also lead Quell’s user engagement and insight generation, ensuring that what players really want is front and centre in our product decision-making.

Maia, Jumpstart Alumni

Congratulations on the promotion! What top tips do you have for graduates hoping to follow in your footsteps?

I was once given a piece of advice that you should keep your initial job spec and refer back to it after 6 months. If your duties and responsibilities go above and beyond what’s written there, you should consider booking in a meeting with your manager to talk about progression! That’s something I love about startups – you can take responsibility for your own career development.

Great advice. Where did you learn it?

It was suggested to me by someone from the Jumpstart community! I’ve made some great friends through the alumni network and we meet up every couple of months over a drink to chat about how work is going, and to give each other support. It’s cool to know people who will likely end up running their own companies – and maybe we’ll even end up working together!

When did you do the Jumpstart programme?

I was in Jumpstart’s second cohort in October 2020. It was such a great experience for me – I learned so much about start-ups and met amazing people. Everyone was super driven, bright, and enthusiastic. During the training there were no awkward zoom silences – people actually got stuck in. A lot of them had started their own companies, charities and university societies. It was really exciting to be in a (virtual) space like that.

What was your favourite part of the programme?

I thought the startup spotlights were brilliant. This is when the job application process is reversed so that startups come to pitch to us (the graduates). I had applied for so many roles that I was exhausted by the normal application process… This was such a great way to work out what working with these people would really be like. I couldn’t believe that founders were trying to convince me why I should work for them!

That must have been so refreshing. Have you always wanted to work in startups?

No – I used to be a scientist! I did a Bachelors in Human Sciences at UCL, and then went to do a Masters in Space Physiology and Health at Kings. I started a research group at UCL investigating aerospace physiology and really enjoyed getting involved in all parts of the organisation. I didn’t realise that I would be able to combine my interests in physiology and my generalist skillset at work, but I discovered that startups were a brilliant way to do that.

Amazing! How did you come to learn about startups?

I didn’t know much about startups before joining the October cohort of the Jumpstart programme, but the training was super comprehensive. I learned about all different aspects of businesses like Quell in the ‘Startup 101’ module, but also about more practical skills like problem solving and asking for feedback when working for a small team. It’s been invaluable.

Pleased to hear it! What’s your favourite thing about working at a startup?

There’s lots of great things about working at Quell from the team, to the technological skills I’m learning every day, but I think my favourite thing is that I can see the impact I make every single day. In just 9 months here, I have made a big difference to the way the company is run, and I get a chance to come up with ideas and see them through to product launch. For a graduate job, that’s really unique.

What piece of advice would you give to graduates wanting to follow in your footsteps and join an upcoming Jumpstart cohort?

Make sure you shine during your Jumpstart interview. Whether this be highlighting the society you set up at university, or demonstrating how logical your thought process is, make sure you really articulate your strengths to the Jumpstart team. If you’re passionate about working hard to disrupt traditional industries – and make a difference – then Jumpstart is perfect for you.

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