Strategy & Growth Senior Associate at Discovery Education – Interview

Strategy & Growth Senior Associate at Discovery Education – Interview

Mariana, Strategy & Growth Senior Associate at Discovery Education shares her career journey and her experience using

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Could you start by talking through your career trajectory?

I’m not originally from the UK and I started working in the Federal Ministry of Finance back home. From there, I went to Kearney. As most people do with big consulting firms, I worked as an analyst for a couple of years and then came to do an MBA in London. During my second year, I started thinking maybe it would be time to explore other options and move on from management consulting, otherwise I wouldn’t do it, ever. So, I decided to take the plunge and work in social impact, which was one of the areas I really wanted to try out. An opportunity to work in social impact consulting came up and I took it.

As time progressed, it stopped being the right fit for me and I for them. Before I knew it I was looking for employment during the covid-19 pandemic, a less than ideal situation to be looking for a new role. Finally, as you know better than me I’m now with Discover Education.

Could you talk about how you came across the Discovery Education role?

I think I originally saw another role for Discovery Education on your website that was published around June. I remember reading about it, and reading about Discovery Education as a company and finding it really interesting, but the role wasn’t exactly a perfect fit for what I wanted so I didn’t apply. I regularly kept checking for updates, and eventually my current role came up and it was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do.

When it comes to your current role and the whole application process, how did you find that during the pandemic? Do you think that being freelance means you are less affected?

To be fully honest, I was only recruiting for permanent roles but I found this opportunity very exciting and decided to move ahead with my application. I did hesitate when I saw this position was initially for a six-month contract because in the pandemic things are difficult, everything’s very uncertain. I wasn’t sure that if I had an offer from Discovery Education and another company, I would go for the permanent one because of the longer-term security it brings, even though the Discovery Education role was the one I liked the most and was my top choice. As things progressed, I found myself really enjoying my interviews with Discovery and realized that my initial concerns didn’t really matter. In addition, I figured starting on a freelance basis would allow me to explore the role and really decide whether it was one that I liked, which I must say is turning out to be true.

How did you find the remote onboarding process?

I thought it was going to be more difficult, but at Discovery everyone made it really natural and smooth. I don’t know if it’s because we’re constantly working with people based all over the world, or just because when I joined, they’d had a few months where they’d already been working remotely – this has just become like the new normal. Of course, I look forward to meeting everyone in person and the face-to-face can’t be replaced, but it hasn’t been as difficult as I would have expected it to be.

Do you have any tips for other candidates who are currently either considering freelance, or even a move in general, during the pandemic?

For freelance, if the role is attractive, go for it. Either because it will turn into something permanent, or it will be a bridge to something else. I think from my experience, sometimes we make choices because they’re less risky in a sense – the role is long-term, the salary is higher, the company has a very strong reputation… But if the role is not the right fit, it becomes exhausting and it affects your performance. If it’s freelance, and it’s a role you really feel interested to try, then definitely go for it.

During the pandemic we as candidates need to understand what companies are going through too. It’s still very uncertain times and they might not be able to commit long-term to anyone because they don’t really know what the future holds. So candidates also need to be a bit more flexible. The fact that we show that flexibility is something the hiring companies can relate to.

Do you have any general career advice that has been really helpful to you / worth sharing with other job seekers?

Networking is very important, especially during this pandemic where there is one role and over a thousand applicants. Whenever you have the opportunity to meet someone in the company, even if they’re not directly related to the role, say yes to those conversations – at the end of the day, they might open doors or worst case end up being a really interesting conversation.

Sometimes you also just need to take a break and recalibrate. Application processes can be very long and consuming, so it is ok to pause and say “I don’t want to think about my next job opportunity just yet. I want to think about my long-term career and how I’m going to get there.” This might be something like writing down the three different approaches that you can take to make your career what you want it to be. It can be scary to do this because you are probably in a place where you need a job asap and don’t have time to start thinking about your career from scratch. But it’s important because it will help you better focus your recruiting efforts and be more selective, as opposed to applying to anything and everything that fits your profile. This will also help you be better during your interviews, to convincingly tell your story, what you’ve achieved so far, and why the role you are interviewing for fits as your next logical step in your long-term career plan.

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