I had already spent 2 years of gap years between my A-levels and starting university – I already felt I was lagging behind my peers.
“So what are your plans after graduation?”
I had been faced with this question more often than anyone should and it had been haunting me as I approached graduation in June 2019. Don’t get me wrong, I was more than fucking excited to get out of the university bubble and head into the real world but I made a stupid mistake 3 years ago.
19-year old me thought opting for “Biochemistry & Cell Biology” was a spectacular choice among all other trendy majors like Computer Science, Intelligent Mobile Systems, or Business Administration. To this date, I’m not sure why I made that choice, but my best guess would be to maximize interaction with women (I believe I succeeded). As I approached graduation, I realized how sad of a life in a lab is and I wanted no part of it. To put it in simple terms, I had spent 3 years chasing a degree that was of no value to me i.e. if there was a depth to being fucked, I would be in as deep as it gets.
A slightly good thing I managed to do, however, was to study International Business Administration alongside starting at the end of my first year.
As I tossed my hat on graduation day, I had nothing to look forward to – no internship, no job, no Masters program. Why? Because no one in good business roles wants to hire an undergraduate with a degree in Biochemistry. Meanwhile, 95% of my batchmates went on to either do their Masters or the smarter ones went to do a Ph.D. because those were the mainstream options. By the study convention, I was hopeless.
Right after graduation, my student job contract ended so there were practically no savings and a long summer ahead. While I am applying for jobs desperately, I come up with a brilliant idea to start a film & photography brand to sustain my expenses. After reaching out to the head of a scientific conference and offering to produce a film for their event – I managed to secure a contract worth €600. Woohoo, I can pay the bills for next month!
Don’t worry, there’s a reason why I’m telling you all this. Soon after sending in a couple of applications the normal way, I realized that there’s very little hope and there I went trying to work my way around things like a poorly rated hacker.
I applied to a role at Entrepreneur First 3x senior to my profile not outlining what I had studied, but what I had done at university alongside which was:
- Running a sports club and making it famous
- Taking business courses
- Working with a best seller author and professor
- Starting a films & photography brand
It’s also important to mention that my Linkedin description at the time started like this
“How often do you see a biochemistry researcher sitting in a strategic management class at 8:00 am on winter mornings? Oddly, I was the only one”.
At the same time, I wrote 3 emails to the CEO of a major consulting company in the Netherlands who eventually replied to me, did an interview, and offered me an internship. Too bad, my south asian passport and my legal status in Germany didn’t allow me to do this job but I was so fascinated that even though they had no official position open on their website, they were willing to offer me an internship. In case you’re curious, this is the exact email I sent.
Back to Entrepreneur First, they got back to me saying
“The role you applied for has been filled, but we have another position open that might be suitable for you. Are you interested?”
Is the sky blue? Am I still brown? Shortly two interviews later, they offered me a position as an Intern. Funnily, the position I was hired for was created out of thin air i.e. there was no job posting on the website and there’s no one working with a similar title at the entire company. So I wondered.
And when I started working, one of the first questions I asked the manager who hired me was
“Why did you hire me?”
To which he replied
“I saw you had a very different experience from an average biochemistry student and we would love to have that sort of perspective on the team. We had to make a decision between you and another candidate – I saw your LinkedIn description and thought that this is definitely the person we want to hire”.
All that time I realized what I had been doing was differentiating myself from my peers by doing all sorts of weird shit that the majority of people were not doing which compounded enough to impress 2 organizations.
The best part of this entire story is the fact that the peers thought I was not going to get anywhere with the way I was handling things now ask me how can they leave their boring academic life and get into a more hands-on real-world commercial role.