“All I had to do now was quit”: Stephen’s Answer

stephen answer headerStephen Barnett, Founder at Catalyst Founders.

“I graduated from Cambridge University in 2009 with a degree in Social and Political Sciences. It was a fantastic course; broad in scope and profound in its study of how humanity works. It was, however, far from vocational.

I was therefore presented with an alarming range of graduate careers. Large corporates were never far away, and all the while I was unsure as to exactly what is was that they wanted me for.

So I went into teaching. It was great! I had autonomy within an understandable structure, a daily opportunity to say something significant, that could just be that something that alumni would look back on and credit for an important life decision. There were also the long, well-deserved holidays.

However, the call of the City was never far away. Lured by impressive satisfaction credentials and an attractive salary, I indiscriminately applied to every graduate employer imaginable. I finally ended up with a job at HSBC, taking up a role in Mergers and Acquisitions.

The job satisfied me, to a point. I was still learning, but I couldn’t quite see how what I was learning had any effect on what I really wanted to do.

How do I know what I really want to do? What happens if I quit and end up just as unhappy? In this instance ask yourself three questions; what do I enjoy in my current job, what do I love outside of work, and what type of company would I most like to work for?

In the spring of 2015 I was sitting in my office and I ran these three questions through repeatedly. I love the strategic side of working for a large bank. Outside of work I loved talking to my friends who were building companies. Finally, I realized that I loved the idea of working for myself. And there it was! A set of potential careers options laid out before me. All I had to do now was quit.

Which leads me to Catalyst Founders: I am a believer in providing a real alternative to people that have a strong desire to start something from scratch. At CF, we look high and low to find the very best young entrepreneurs who cannot think of doing anything else but building amazing companies.

So, why do we encourage school and university leavers to take this life-changing leap of faith and start building their own company?

Firstly, your age! By starting a company at 21, you can fail, refine, tweak and ‘pivot’ to your heart’s content. If you try to start a business in 10-years’ time with the burdens of say, a family or mortgage, the risk/reward clearly becomes appropriately weighted towards risk.

Secondly you are helping to change the face of employment and incentive, across all sectors. Millenials largely look beyond monetary compensation, towards job satisfaction, flexibility, and autonomy.

Finally, you will be more fulfilled! Countless studies have shown that, when we take control of our current working condition, we are more likely to be productive, successful and satisfied. Trust me, there is nothing quite so liberating and rewarding than taking control and pursuing your own venture.

I am therefore calling out to those of you who cannot get excited by traditional graduate careers, and are ready to take a leap of entrepreneurial faith. It might just be the best decision you ever make.”



Catalyst Founders seeks to invest in and support the best young entrepreneurs from across the country.




This article has been provided by an external organisation, as such the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre.

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