Guest blog – How to get hired at a startup by Sarah Bourke

Sarah Bourke is Customer Operations Manager at Thriva, the world’s first preventative healthcare service.

Startups are a great option for new grads. Large corporations can’t offer what startups can: the opportunity to make an impact on the whole business with relatively little experience. Plus, you get to wear jeans and play table tennis, so what’s not to love?

I’ve worked in startups for six years across three different industries, and I’ve got some insider tips on how to get hired at one.

Be specific

Generic CVs and cover letters just don’t cut it. While startups are often happy to hire new grads, they also want to make sure you’re really passionate about the company’s mission. Your CV and cover letter should reflect this. Ideally you’ll have some relevant background relating to the company, whether it’s a university society, volunteer experience, or even your own blog. Hiring managers at startups really want to see your passion, so don’t be afraid to sound excited in your cover letter – it’s exactly what we’re looking for. At Thriva, for example, we want to know that you’re passionate about preventative healthcare. And if your cover letter doesn’t even mention the role or company, it’ll probably go straight in the (digital) bin.

Be proactive

Even if you don’t have relevant experience or background in a company’s industry, just showing that you’ve done some research can be enough. If you’re interested in a role, invest time into learning more. Research the company’s background, competitors and recent developments in the industry. Incorporate some of these things into your cover letter, as well as why you’re interested in this company in particular, and you’ll already be halfway to an interview.

Consider another avenue

It’s hard to get your foot in the door for competitive positions at startups like Product Manager or Digital Marketing. Consider applying for positions that may require less direct experience, like an Account Manager or Customer Service Associate, to build up your experience. After proving yourself for six months or a year, you can ask to shadow someone in the position you’re really after, or just do a bit of work for the department. They’ll be more willing to look past your lack of experience if they know you’re a fast learner and willing to put in the effort.

Don’t get discouraged

It’s cliched, but true. The startup job market is competitive, and we get tons of applicants for every job. I recommend having a template of your CV and cover letter so that you can quickly tailor it to each job you’re applying for. If you’ve applied for lots of jobs and aren’t getting anywhere, try switching things up – try a different approach with your cover letter, or find a new CV template to work from. You never know what’s going to make a difference.

If you think you’d like to work in a startup, I’d recommend looking at some job ads to see what roles and companies interest you. WorkInStartups and AngelList are great places to start. There are hundreds of startups in London across tons of industries, so there’s something out there for everyone.

About Thriva
Thriva is the world’s first preventative healthcare service. We’ve taken the cornerstone of any health check – the blood test – and made it incredibly easy and convenient. From two week wait times to results in two days, and from no access to your results to owning your own health data. We work with NHS trained GPs and labs so you know you can trust the results and know what to do about them.


Developing your Commercial Awareness – Cass Students

Recently the Cass Placement Team and CityCareers have had feedback from several employers that students need to develop their commercial awareness. This blog aims to set out some key ways you can improve your commercial awareness to help you stand out at application and interview.

What is commercial awareness?

Commercial awareness refers to your knowledge of the industry you are hoping to join and it is a key skill employers look for in students and graduates. According to the recent Institute of Student Employers Annual Survey 79% of graduate employers look for commercial awareness but only 15% of new graduates have it!

How is it measured?

You may see interview or application questions such as:

  • What are the recent developments in our industry?
  • Who are our competitors and how do we differ?
  • Tell us a recent news story and how it might affect our business
  • What services do we provide to our clients?

How can I develop it?

What frameworks can help?

When analysing a company or industry you can use these frameworks to help structure your analysis or think of issues from different perspectives.

  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) – some of the library databases such as Marketline Advantage publish SWOT analyses of big companies as well as giving their key competitors, employee information, history and major products and services
  • PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environment, Legal)
  • 4 C’s (Customers, Costs, Competitors, Capabilities)
  • Porter’s 5 forces (Competitive Rivalry, Supplier Power, Buyer Power, Threat of Substitution, Threat of New Entry)

What resources can help me?

Library workshops e.g. Introduction to Bloomberg
Library Company Reports
Cass Library Guides



Written By: Rabiya Khawaja

Many students experience that strain of finances and lack of time that comes with studying at university. So many have taken up part-time jobs in retail, cafés and other sectors to earn a few extra pounds, but there are many other benefits of taking up a part-time job which can be beneficial in your chosen career.


Within one shift you can encounter so many different types of people. Some friendly and polite while others are incredibly testing, you learn to be patient and deal with anything that can be thrown your way. In some circumstances, you need to be sensitive in the manner you approach certain people who may need extra help with finding items or understanding procedures.


Having part-time jobs shows future employers many positive things. Firstly, you can show you have commitment especially if you have worked for a few years. Having your job and study routine shows that you have a strong commitment to your job as well as your studies.

  1. MONEY!

This is the most obvious benefit of working, being a student is very financially staining from paying bills, rent and travelling. It is nice to have a regular pay check coming in aside from the student finance to help cover basic necessities.


If you are lucky you can get a job to gain some experience in the field you want to go. This allows you to gain experience and make new connections. While studying you gain practical understating of the work environment and real-life training and an invaluable insight into what your future might be.


The financial strain on students can be daunting, but the right attitude to budgeting can help relieve the stress. You can use money from work and student finance to manage your bills and rent as well as leave some over for a night out. Having a job allows you to spend more wisely since you have to work hard to earn it and you can always look forward to your next pay check.

  1. SKILLS: 

ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS: when working alongside studying, you need to be able to organise your time and your work accordingly. This can be difficult as you have different priorities, but you need to manage your time, some people find doing school work on the weekdays and working weekends easier. If you are lucky you may have flexible shifts and a workplace that understands your workload so may be able to offer your hours accordingly

TEAMWORK: you will most likely be working in a team and from this experience, you will be well equipped to deal with a variety of people and personalities.

DEALING WITH PROBLEMS: you may be faced with something unexpected and something you weren’t trained for; these experiences will give the initiative to deal with things that may not go according to plan. They are also good talking points during interviews.

Having a part-time job will expose you to an array of situations and people, you may not have dealt with before. Recruiters will see that you have practical skills in the real world, you learn to interact with people and develop more skills than you could imagine!


Guest blog: Why I chose to take a Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology (DPsych) by Kiran Bains

Kiran Bains is taking a professional Doctorate in Health Psychology (DPsych) and she also works for City’s Careers Service as an Applications Adviser. 

About me:

Like most people, it turns out, on my undergraduate psychology course I started off wanting to be a clinical psychologist. Then I went into my final year, where we got to choose which modules we want to take and I took one in health psychology, and it grabbed my interest. I wouldn’t say that going into the DPsych Health was like a romance novel, this is ‘the one’ for me, but health psychology was a field that interested me a great deal. It seemed to be ‘global’; the interplay of physical, social and to a point, mental health. It’s also relatively newer, so I felt a greater sense of opportunity to put my stamp on it in a wider context and make an impact. And finally, I was introduced to critical health psychology, which helped me think about how health and identities are constructed, and how the way we make meaning of these topics can feed into social inequalities.

My career journey

I did not rush into this career choice, but my path has been like a series of stepping stones where I decided on each move as it came. I volunteered at university for the Epilepsy Society and , then worked with them as support worker after graduation. I then moved laterally to work with people with learning disabilities (there was an overlap with my clients). I found myself rethinking a lot of what I took for granted, around topics such as their communication and understanding, as this varied so widely. This helped me think critically when I did my masters in health psychology, and have an end purpose in using and applying my knowledge. After my masters I worked as a research assistant in a diabetes screening and prevention project aimed at adults with learning disabilities. I also did some work in LGBT research, and both of these areas informed parts of my training for my doctorate. It’s easier to understand social inequalities when you work with disadvantaged minority groups. Before I applied for my doctorate, however, I went back to the social care organisation I spent a significant amount of time working for on and off for several years, Continue Reading


Guest blog: Working at a tech startup with an economics degree

Many UK university graduates struggle to find their first job after getting their degree. The competitive landscape makes it hard to stand out, especially if you aren’t from a target university. In many ways I think the system is flawed, but this post is not the place to talk about it. I will rather explain how widening my job search scope brought unexpected results.

As an economics student I was constantly pressured by my peers to do consulting or investment banking. However, I realised that it’s not all about these two choices, one never has to confine himself to such boundaries. There are a bunch of amazing opportunities out there which have nothing to do with consulting or investment banking. I would even argue that trying out something which is not “in your field” teaches you a lot about life.

After I got my economics degree in July I decided to apply for a program which supports startups in Hungary: Bridge Budapest. I was given a chance to learn how to build a business from Samebug, a tech startup which aims to change the way programmers solve errors in their code. In October I was put in charge of Customer Relations. Notice that this is very different from what I studied before. I had some sales experience from volunteering at AIESEC, a not for profit youth-driven leadership platform but nothing else. Speaking with programmers and building a product for them was completely new to me.

My first week was quite difficult as I had to get used to the terminology. On my very first day I was given a task to go through a list of speakers at an upcoming conference. As the founders of the company planned to attend the event, I was left with the task to choose the people worth talking to. I honestly had no idea what I was doing but asking questions from colleagues was very useful to get started. The week went by fast and my knowledge about the industry kept growing at a really high rate. Last week the conference ran its course and I managed to arrange meetings with a couple of speakers.

After a month I can still say that there’s a lot more to learn. However, I learnt as much to be able to devise strategies for going forward. I picked up ownership of a number of tasks and contributed to a lot more. This has made me appreciate how much responsibility I can take up since now I see how much impact certain actions can have.

Samebug is a startup, which has its pros and cons. There’s not much hierarchy so we have a friendly atmosphere where employers and employees work together at the same table. Whenever I have a question or need some input, I can ask anyone (including my boss) in my vicinity. This brings together the people at the organisation because we can see everyone working hard for the same goal and that’s very inspiring. We have regular meetings to plan ahead and talk through processes, everyone’s input matters. We usually have lunch together and there are teambuilding sessions as well (last time we went to an escape room and got out in time).

The downside is that there is a lot of uncertainty. To demonstrate this, let me give an example: on the second week we conducted a series of interviews, both with individuals and teams at companies, to understand behaviours and how we could build the right product. At the end of the week we sat down to talk through our learnings and the immediate learning was that the problem does exist, but the solution we are presenting does not apply yet. Developers are solving this issue somehow and it takes a lot more to “convince” them to change the behaviour. The meeting had a very negative tone and I went home with a really bad feeling. However, on Monday we came back, everyone had new ideas on how to proceed and address the learnings and we once again knew how to proceed.

At Samebug we always knew we will win if we are able to present a solution which is worthy for developers to change their behaviours. We continue to work on that harder than ever. The whole past month was like this: a roller coaster ride of emotions.

At the beginning I wrote that an experience like this teaches you a lot about life. I still uphold this statement. Life is sometimes unfair and difficult, but you alone are responsible for how you react to it. You can have a negative conversation after some talks about how what you are doing is useless but ultimately, it’s up to you to choose whether you’ll be reactive or proactive. We chose to be proactive and changed our assumptions of our product. Was it a good idea? No one knows for sure, however, at least we did something about it.

Written by Istvan Erdo, BSc Economics Graduate



Guest Blog: Top 5 Reasons Why You Should See An Application Adviser, by Carolina Are

Carolina, one of our Application Advisers, has written this fantastic post on why you should come and see one of the team!

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should See An Application Adviser – by Carolina Are

As a former City University BA Journalism student, I was aware of the existence of the Careers Service but never really used it. For two years, I became one of those people who sent the same CV and the same cover letter to every company and then wondered why I wasn’t getting a job. Luckily things changed once I joined a society and started working part-time in recruitment, but I could have used my time here way better and fixed my CV much earlier, and for free. How? By going to see an Application Adviser. Here are five reasons why you should too. Continue Reading


Guest Blog: Arthur Mwangi writes about his experience of the Police Now Graduate Scheme

Careers consultants at City often go on visits to graduate schemes to keep up to date. Recently, I visited Police Now and was stuck by Arthur’s enthusiasm for his role:

Background: I studied Biomedical Science at the University of Portsmouth and graduated in July 2015. Luckily I got a job in PR shortly after. However I soon noticed that sitting around in an office all day wasn’t what I wanted to spend my working day doing. One day by chance I came across an advertisement for Police Now on Facebook, applied and never looked back!

Daily activities:

Due to the nature of policing you can never really plan what each day will bring you, but you have to try and stay organised. I start each day with bit of admin, checking crime reports and intelligence etc. But my days mainly consist of  patrolling the hotspots in my area where we get the most issues and doing pre planned taskings. Due to this I get to spend a lot of time out in my area engaging with the community and arresting offenders. I also have various meetings every month with partner agencies such as the council and local charities to discuss joint approaches to ongoing problems in my area. In addition to this I run my ward twitter account, so I spend some time distributing content to our followers. Here’s our most successful tweet! Finally, I’m also public order trained, which I can be deployed anywhere in London (or the UK if it’s really bad) to deal with an incident. We recently got sent to Staines on blue lights for the Parsons Green incident, which was exciting!

Highlights: In my very short policing career I’ve had quite a few highlights. I received an award for top student in my met police cohort, for showing good academic and operational skills. Which meant that I got presented an award by the commissioner. However, I managed to mess up the handshake when he presented me with the award much to everyones amusement.

My team were among the first to respond to the tragic Croydon tram crash and were tasked with assisting with one of the hospitals victims were sent to. I felt very proud as a police officer to be there for those in need at such a tough time.


The starting pay is reasonably good in compassion to other graduate schemes.

You develop so much as a person and gain so many transferable skills which other recruiters are crying out for if you choose to leave at the end of the two years. Conflict management, active listening resource management, public speaking – just to name a few.

There’s such a variety of things you can do in policing after your probation.

You’ll meet some amazing colleagues, who go above and beyond to help you.

Some of the projects you do for Police Now act as great evidence for transferring to specialisms at the end of your programme.


Occasional extended tour of duty. Due to the nature of police work you can’t always just up and leave as soon as your shift finishes e.g. if you arrest someone 5 minutes before the end of a shift you’re expected to process them.

The shift work sometimes means you miss some social events, however as long as you’re organised this won’t effect you too much.

In summary, I know policing does get a lot of stick in the media, but I’ve loved the majority of it (every job has it’s bad days) and I urge anyone to give it a go even if you do not see it as a long term career. If anyone has any questions feel free to email my personal email arthur.m@live.co.uk 




Correct email address to book a place on the National Probation Service Open Day/Briefing Event in London on Thursday 9 November 2017


If any of you have been trying to book a place for the National Probation Service Open Day coming up in London this Thursday 9 November 2017, this is because I was sent the wrong email address. Here is the correct email address:  In the subject box put PQiP Open Day. There are still places available for the event. It is a full day event and will include question time and advice about the application process. Even if you are just considering if this is the right thing for you – go along – it will help you to decide!