#LifestartCareerChats: An evening with Jonathan Matthews, Senior Product Manager at Intercom

Taking risks makes learning faster and more meaningful.

What career can you go into if you’re studying engineering, or mathematics? Well the answer is anything (of course!). Use what you’ve studied at university to help you go into something where you’ll learn something new. Whether that be banking, big business or startups, Jonathan Mathews shared how work experience can give you an edge.

Seated at a rounded table at the Avenue Restaurant in Mayfair,this #LifeStartCareerChat felt more like a dinner with newly acquainted friends. Cooking stone-baked pizzas in Italy to why Jonathan left the banking world, the conversation ebbed and flowed naturally from personal to professional.

Jonathan studied engineering at Imperial in London and entered the banking sector soon after graduation. He saw it very much as the classic next step for many engineers which perhaps made his initial choice easier. His tales of Morgan Stanley were as fast-paced as you would imagine, with long work days turning into working nights not an unusual occurrence while he was there. Although it wasn’t all bad, speaking also for the opportunity to travel with work whether that be Tokyo or Latin America, banking can also mean a jet-setting lifestyle.

With all that in mind he didn’t just stay at Morgan and Stanley. He also got to work in smaller banking firms to see the difference of pace. Not entirely content, he quit his job at the smaller corporate firm to enter the world of startups. Jonathan decided there was something to gain in a different set of experiences and could learn something new. 

This decision underpins his emphatic advice to take risks. He assured us that taking risks was the best way to learn. It made learning faster and more meaningful.

The most obvious risk he has taken in his career was going from banking to startups. Taking a significant pay cut as well as job insecurity are just a few of the risks he had to face. However, he recounted how he was back in the same financial and professional level position within a couple of years. What he learnt from the experience would have never occurred if he had stayed in the same job for that same amount of time.

What seems to have guided Jonathan throughout his career is to have the experience of something. That he knows whether he likes a certain sector, country or job position because he’s already done it. Meaning that although he has worked within startups, he has made the decision to work for a larger company out of personal preference.

 Always remember that mentorship is there to support you in your decisions. What works for one person does not always work for someone else. You may prefer a certain type of work environment over another and that’s ok! Now is the time to try and start figuring it out. Taking any opportunity that comes your way and working out your strengths and weaknesses, or your likes and dislikes. Whether you decide to start off your experience in a startup or a corporate company it’s all equally valuable experience and you can always switch. 

Take a look at our current challenges. You can win work experience, cash prizes, but more importantly challenge yourself with real life business problems that may help you take your first step on your own unique career path and build a portfolio showcasing your personal (work) style!