Joining a FinTech During a Global Pandemic

September 16 , 2020

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When I started looking for the next step of my career in December 2019, I thought that I understood the process—and challenges—that would lie ahead. 

My last interview was junior year of college. I approached it with the typical Georgetown University business student’s attitude, where the only concern was landing a position with a large financial institution or consulting company. Sure enough, two years later I found myself going through the motions as a disgruntled bank analyst looking for a way out. I couldn’t help but feel like several of my older friends and colleagues were whispering, “I told you so.”  

Maybe they were right—it was time for my next move.

Finding FinTech

As a finance and marketing major, joining a financial institution seemed like a logical next step for me. Twenty-two percent of Georgetown's 2019 graduating class entered into banking-related activities, myself included. Now, this isn’t a knock on anyone who chooses this path; joining one of the biggest corporations in the world gives you insight into how the most successful companies operate efficiently. Everyone in the company has a defined role, you're expected to move and function at a very high level within your own expertise, and analysts get the job done because the client necessitates it. 

For a little over a year I learned and absorbed the banking culture. Little by little, though, I began to realize a simple truth: It wasn’t for me. I enjoyed many aspects of the finance industry, so I knew that I didn’t want a complete career U-turn. With that, the question became: 

How can I marry the finance industry with a nimbler company that has greater work autonomy?

As I started my search in late 2019, I looked far and wide for the ever-elusive “right fit.” Investment management, big technology, sports business, FinTech, corporate strategy, and venture capital crossed my mind, just to name a few. Starting big allowed me to ultimately narrow down a more niche set of positions and companies as I interviewed and researched. 

After about 2-3 months of interviewing for a variety of roles, it became clear that FinTech was the best path forward for multiple reasons:

  • Join a flexible company with a start-up mindset 
  • Colleagues with similar work backgrounds to my own 
  • Autonomous roles with ability to grow from within and help the company develop from day one 
  • Utilize my financial background at the ground level 
  • Capacity to apply a large company mindset to help a smaller company grow 

Cut to March 2020 . . . I finally figured out where I wanted to be by early March, and . . .  boom . . . COVID-19. Thankfully, I had interviewed with several Chicago-area FinTechs prior to the global pandemic, but as soon as things started to shut down, I received a very similar message across the board: “We need to wait and see,” “we are on a hiring freeze for the time being,” or “we are no longer hiring for this position.” I was frustrated, but I understood. Everyone was adjusting to the new norm just when I was hitting my stride. I didn’t let it deter me. 

Enter Amount: a digital banking infrastructure meant to help banks solve the very problems I saw consistently across one of the biggest financial institutions in the world. Amount presented a solution that I could relate to, and a place where I felt that I could offer a perspective looking from the inside out. Amount fit my desired destination: agile, battle-tested, start-up culture, great people, and a team-oriented work environment. 

Despite the hiring process occurring in the midst of a global pandemic, Amount communicated with me every step of the way. I heard from the hiring manager, the head of recruiting, fellow team members, and other employees on a daily basis. It put me at ease knowing that they were engaged in the process and made me feel truly valued as a potential new hire.

As many of you may have guessed, I have now been a part of the team here at Amount for a little over four months. So, what have I encountered along the way? 

Challenges and lessons learned joining a FinTech during the pandemic 

Joining a new company during a global pandemic is scary (let’s not sugarcoat it). Along the way I have encountered plenty of challenges like:

Getting to know your co-workers is going to be a little weird. Embrace it. 

Don’t be afraid to schedule a 30-minute video call with each member of your team to introduce yourself. Your co-workers will be willing to help and building those team connections is important. Have questions ready to go and be friendly. Make sure the conversations stay relatively casual so that you can get to know your colleague on a personal level. 

Expect the unexpected. 

You aren’t going to get the traditional company rah-rah-rah you might get at a larger firm. There will be bumps in the road and things you don’t fully understand. It’s up to you to be a self-starter in order to find success. Ask the right questions and do an inordinate amount of self-research to help get yourself up to speed. 

Spend time understanding your company’s expectations of you.

Have a plan in place with your manager within the first week to get a good grasp of what will be expected of you in the first month. It might be a long-term project, reading of key materials, meet-and-greets, etc. Set goals for yourself so you aren’t behind the eight ball 30, 60, or 90 days in. 

Learn how your team communicates day in and day out. 

No one wants to be the new team member firing off an email or Slack message that leaves people thinking, “What was that?” From day one, pay attention to the different avenues of communication your team uses. Communication is key, especially in a fully remote work environment.

Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions. 

This one might seem a little cliché, but I think it is even more important in a remote work environment. It’s hard enough to start a job in which you  likely haven’t met a single member of your team in person. Even if you think the question is off the radar, ask it. It’s okay. In smaller FinTechs, everyone is working to better the company, and your colleagues want to help you get there as quickly as possible.

Tips for job seekers looking for their next career move during the pandemic 

Start your search with a wide-ranging mindset.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of seeking a specific role at a set company. Have an open mind to a variety of different roles with the goal of refining that search over the course of a couple months. Use each interview and application as a learning experience to help you better narrow your interests. Roles will be more limited in a COVID-19 environment, so don’t limit yourself from the jump. 

If you’re joining a smaller firm, don’t be afraid to play up corporate experience.

A senior executive at Amount said it best to me during the interview process: “It is the corporate mumbo-jumbo combined with the agility of a FinTech that will help us become more mature.” Having a background at a large corporation does not make you less attractive to younger, growing companies.  In fact, the opposite is true. Many companies will appreciate the experience you have in a complex environment like a larger firm. After all, this is where the smaller companies are aiming to get to. Don’t be afraid to show your expertise. 

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. 

Follow up with the recruiter and/or hiring manager for your role to understand where they are at in the process. Make sure they know that you are still interested and are the perfect candidate for the position. Many of these individuals have a lot going, so simply reminding them of your candidacy and showing interest can go a long way. 

Use working from home or added free-time to your advantage

More so than ever, this pandemic has given many added work flexibility, giving you time to brush up your resume, study each potential company to the fullest, add a skill necessary for a potential role, and clean up your LinkedIn profile. With a limited number of roles, there will be more pressure to succeed in each interview. Set yourself up for success by being well-prepared. 

“I told you so” is only half the battle.

Embracing that you are ready for your next role is only the first step. One of the worst things people can do when ready for a change—and something that I easily could have done when I heard the whispers of “I told you so”—is jumping at whatever opportunity offers an escape from your current role. Don’t define your desired role by what it isn’t (i.e. this isn’t what I do now and dislike, struggle with, etc.). Find the right job for what it is. Landing a new job at a company where you’re excited about the role and the people around you is a tremendous opportunity, and one well worth your effort.

Find your path at Amount

If you find yourself looking for your next challenge, don’t let excuses get in your way. Yes, even a global pandemic can be overcome with the right approach. If you’re ready to join a group of people that are on a course to transform the future of banking, look no further than Amount. The Amount platform enables banks and financial institutions to customize their retail banking experience within a profit-proven enterprise framework. Are you ready for your next career adventure?

VIEW JOB OPENINGS

Footnotes

The information in this post is provided for informational and advertising purposes only. Amount's service may vary for each customer. For more information, email us – media@amount.com.

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Mac Rechan

Mac brings distinct finance industry experience as Business Development Senior Analyst at Amount and believes digitizing the banking experience is essential for the longevity of major financial institutions. A native of St. Louis, MO, you can find Mac playing golf on the weekends or exploring the Chicago restaurant scene.

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Joining a FinTech During a Global Pandemic

Posted by Mac Rechan on September 16 , 2020
Mac Rechan
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Joining a FinTech During a Global Pandemic 

When I started looking for the next step of my career in December 2019, I thought that I understood the process—and challenges—that would lie ahead.

My last interview was junior year of college. I approached it with the typical Georgetown University business student’s attitude, where the only concern was landing a position with a large financial institution or consulting company. Sure enough, two years later I found myself going through the motions as a disgruntled bank analyst looking for a way out. I couldn’t help but feel like several of my older friends and colleagues were whispering, “I told you so.”  

Maybe they were right—it was time for my next move.

Finding FinTech

 

As a finance and marketing major, joining a financial institution seemed like a logical next step for me. Twenty-two percent of Georgetown's 2019 graduating class entered into banking-related activities, myself included. Now, this isn’t a knock on anyone who chooses this path; joining one of the biggest corporations in the world gives you insight into how the most successful companies operate efficiently. Everyone in the company has a defined role, you're expected to move and function at a very high level within your own expertise, and analysts get the job done because the client necessitates it.

 

For a little over a year I learned and absorbed the banking culture. Little by little, though, I began to realize a simple truth: It wasn’t for me. I enjoyed many aspects of the finance industry, so I knew that I didn’t want a complete career U-turn. With that, the question became:

How can I marry the finance industry with a nimbler company that has greater work autonomy?

 

As I started my search in late 2019, I looked far and wide for the ever-elusive “right fit.” Investment management, big technology, sports business, FinTech, corporate strategy, and venture capital crossed my mind, to name just a few. Starting big allowed me to ultimately narrow down a more niche set of positions and companies as I interviewed and researched.

After about 2-3 months of interviewing for a variety of roles, it became clear that FinTech was the best path forward for multiple reasons:

  • Join a flexible company with a start-up mindset
  • Colleagues with similar work backgrounds to my own 
  • Autonomous roles with ability to grow from within and help the company develop from day one
  • Utilize my financial background at the ground level
  • Capacity to apply a large company mindset to help a smaller company grow

 

Cut to March 2020 . . . I finally figured out where I wanted to be by early March, and . . .  boom . . . COVID-19. Thankfully, I had interviewed with several Chicago-area FinTechs prior to the global pandemic, but as soon as things started to shut down, I received a very similar message across the board: “We need to wait and see,” “we are on a hiring freeze for the time being,” or “we are no longer hiring for this position.” I was frustrated, but I understood. Everyone was adjusting to the new norm just when I was hitting my stride. I didn’t let it deter me.

 

Enter Amount: a digital banking infrastructure meant to help banks solve the very problems I saw consistently across one of the biggest financial institutions in the world. Amount presented a solution that I could relate to, and a place where I felt that I could offer a perspective looking from the inside out. Amount fit my desired destination: agile, battle-tested, start-up culture, great people, and a team-oriented work environment.

 

Despite the hiring process occurring in the midst of a global pandemic, Amount communicated with me every step of the way. I heard from the hiring manager, the head of recruiting, fellow team members, and other employees on a daily basis. It put me at ease knowing that they were engaged in the process and made me feel truly valued as a potential new hire.

 

As many of you may have guessed, I have now been a part of the team here at Amount for a little over four months. So, what have I encountered along the way?

 

Challenges and lessons learned joining a FinTech during the pandemic

 

Joining a new company during a global pandemic is scary (let’s not sugarcoat it). Along the way I have encountered plenty of challenges like:

 

Getting to know your co-workers is going to be a little weird. Embrace it.

Don’t be afraid to schedule a 30-minute video call with each member of your team to introduce yourself. Your co-workers will be willing to help and building those team connections is important. Have questions ready to go and be friendly. Make sure the conversations stay relatively casual so that you can get to know your colleague on a personal level.

Expect the unexpected.

You aren’t going to get the traditional company rah-rah-rah you might get at a larger firm. There will be bumps in the road and things you don’t fully understand. It’s up to you to be a self-starter in order to find success. Ask the right questions and do an inordinate amount of self-research to help get yourself up to speed.

 

Spend time understanding your company’s expectations of you.

Have a plan in place with your manager within the first week to get a good grasp of what will be expected of you in the first month. It might be a long-term project, reading of key materials, meet-and-greets, etc. Set goals for yourself so you aren’t behind the eight ball 30, 60, or 90 days in.

 

Learn how your team communicates day in and day out.

No one wants to be the new team member firing off an email or Slack message that leaves people thinking, “What was that?” From day one, pay attention to the different avenues of communication your team uses. Communication is key, especially in a fully remote work environment.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions.

This one might seem a little cliché, but I think it is even more important in a remote work environment. It’s hard enough to start a job in which you  likely haven’t met a single member of your team in person. Even if you think the question is off the radar, ask it. It’s okay. In smaller FinTechs, everyone is working to better the company, and your colleagues want to help you get there as quickly as possible.

 

Tips for job seekers looking for their next career move during the pandemic

 

Start your search with a wide-ranging mindset.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of seeking a specific role at a set company. Have an open mind to a variety of different roles with the goal of refining that search over the course of a couple months. Use each interview and application as a learning experience to help you better narrow your interests. Roles will be more limited in a COVID-19 environment, so don’t limit yourself from the jump.

 

If you’re joining a smaller firm, don’t be afraid to play up corporate experience.

A senior executive at Amount said it best to me during the interview process: “It is the corporate mumbo-jumbo combined with the agility of a FinTech that will help us become more mature.” Having a background at a large corporation does not make you less attractive to younger, growing companies.  In fact, the opposite is true. Many companies will appreciate the experience you have in a complex environment like a larger firm. After all, this is where the smaller companies are aiming to get to. Don’t be afraid to show your expertise.

 

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Follow up with the recruiter and/or hiring manager for your role to understand where they are at in the process. Make sure they know that you are still interested and are the perfect candidate for the position. Many of these individuals have a lot going, so simply reminding them of your candidacy and showing interest can go a long way.

 

Use working from home or added free-time to your advantage

More so than ever, this pandemic has given many added work flexibility, giving you time to brush up your resume, study each potential company to the fullest, add a skill necessary for a potential role, and clean up your LinkedIn profile. With a limited number of roles, there will be more pressure to succeed in each interview. Set yourself up for success by being well-prepared.

“I told you so” is only half the battle.

Embracing that you are ready for your next role is only the first step. One of the worst things people can do when ready for a change—and something that I easily could have done when I heard the whispers of “I told you so”—is jumping at whatever opportunity offers an escape from your current role. Don’t define your desired role by what it isn’t (i.e. this isn’t what I do now and dislike, struggle with, etc.). Find the right job for what it is. Landing a new job at a company where you’re excited about the role and the people around you is a tremendous opportunity, and one well worth your effort.

Find your path at Amount

If you find yourself looking for your next challenge, don’t let excuses get in your way. Yes, even a global pandemic can be overcome with the right approach. If you’re ready to join a group of people that are on a course to transform the future of banking, look no further than Amount. The Amount platform enables banks and financial institutions to customize their retail banking experience within a profit-proven enterprise framework. Are you ready for your next adventure?

VIEW JOB OPENINGS

Topics: Culture