UCL School of Management

Kamil Ryszkowski | 14 January 2018

Working at a startup while studying

I am a student currently in my third year of my BSc Information Management for Business degree at UCL’s School of Management and I work part-time (though more often than not it feels like full-time!) as a Business Associate at True AI - a London-based start-up researching and commercialising conversational software using deep learning AI. I joined True AI as the first employee beside the founders, and have been working there alongside my IMB studies for almost 2 years, proving that you can work alongside your studies, and that it can be beneficial.

There are multiple synergies between the work I do and university. At True AI, I am involved in a range of tasks that involve the company’s strategy, operations, fundraising, HR, and sales. Once in a blue moon I also contribute in frontend software engineering, UX, and market research. Now, this all sounds very much like IMB, doesn’t it? It also feeds back into my degree, as the unique perspectives gained from True AI have helped me think critically within IMB modules, notably IT Project Management, Innovation Management, and Software Engineering.

Work experience at True AI has been invaluable for personal learning and growth, not only for the opportunity to leverage existing IMB skills, but also to learn many new ones. The company went through Microsoft’s Accelerator London program, successfully obtained research grant funding, tripled in headcount, and had multiple scientific and commercial achievements during my 2-year tenure, from which I learned a great deal. On a more practical level, the work also supported me through life in London. 

Reader - if you are an ambitious student considering working at a start-up, I encourage you to do it! The standard career path consisting of a summer internship followed by a graduate scheme in consulting or banking is just one of the vast number of options available. The opportunity to have responsibilities from the start and be able to fully and openly express your creativity and entrepreneurial aspirations is a great argument to seek experience working at start-ups instead.

If you want to explore opportunities in the start-up world, I suggest you start with places such as angel.co or workinstartups.com to discover the great variety of new products and services being currently developed in London.

Tip: start-ups are flexible – even if they don’t currently advertise a relevant vacancy, they are often happy to create one for smart, ambitious candidates that UCL is full of.

Now, regardless if my musings sound relevant or nonsensical to you, I would like to invite you to read my follow-up blog post with tips for getting high marks in IMB while working at the same time.

Last updated Monday, 15 January 2018