Going into the first year of my MBA at the Wharton School of Business, I was struck with the paradox of choice – I had to decide where my career would go, and I was paralyzed by all the possibilities. I had just left my job as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, and while I knew I wanted to dive deep into the tech space, that goal was too vague and broad.
So I fell back to my consulting ways – I spoke to people (lots and lots of people!), did some online research, and built an excel prioritization matrix. (Was it overkill? Probably. Did I do it anyway? Well…)
The first choice – Established vs Up-and-coming
Unanimously, I was told that the first choice I needed to make was the choice to work at a mature company (read as big, established tech) or at growth-focused up-and-comers (i.e. start-ups). While this is an over-simplification, the true decision was behind what these choices implied.
Working at corporate, established companies meant structure. It was methodical growth, and as the name implies, established, tried-and-tested exposure, responsibilities, and advancement.
On the other hand, working at start-ups embodied unstructured environments, but explosive growth – personal and professional. There is an inherent risk to working at start-ups, which (in my opinion) is balanced by the degree of ownership and responsibility you get.
As you can see from my clearly unbiased breakdown, I veered towards working in an environment which facilitated exponential personal growth. As someone who tries to live up to the motto “Seek Discomfort” (thank you, Yes Theory, one of my favorite YouTube channels) I wanted to explore the path that would challenge me.
So start-ups it was.
A lot more filtering and prioritization – bear with me…
I’m going to skip ahead a few steps here and talk about one of the most important decision factors for me. The founding team.
When you work at a start-up, I believe that you buy into the founders more so than the company or the current product. I wanted to work with founders who raised the bar, intellectually, in their vision and for their team. I wanted a top-down culture of mentorship and enabling personal growth, all the while giving you the room to rise and meet those expectations.
Apart from that, I had a few more decision factors:
- Product first tech company: I wanted to work at a company that was driven by the product they were building, rather than using the technology as an enabler for their operations.
- Enterprise first: While consumer-tech is a large beast by itself, to double down on “Seek discomfort”, I wanted to work on solutions to customers whose needs weren’t intuitively obvious to me. Exploring the needs of enterprise customers who were still unknown to me would push me to understand the path of customer journey discovery.
- The potential for disruption: While more subjective, I wanted to work towards a vision that aimed to drastically change the status quo. I aimed to be a Product Manager, and I wanted to build products that would be akin to building cars instead of faster horses. (I’m shamelessly ripping off a very common statement by Prodigal’s founders here)
So how does that translate to Prodigal?
I had the pleasure to intern at Prodigal and work with the entire team. The founders, Shantanu and Sangram, swept me off my feet and exceeded all my expectations from the founding team. The breadth of exposure I got to the company and its various functions left the personal-growth-junkie in me speechless. Even more so, they spent prodigious amounts of time mentoring me, upskilling me and enabling me to do my role. And this was for an intern!
As a product-driven AI based collections intelligence platform, Prodigal aimed to disrupt the collections and lending space. After some research and working with them, I was enamored by the potential, the vision, and the large whitespace that they were filling in the FinTech space.
In addition, the rest of the team was a pleasure to work with. Passionate, driven colleagues made every meeting and discussion challenging and educational. Remote work (thanks COVID!) was no bar to productivity or bonding, with poker, gaming and chill sessions galore.
I was sold. Prodigal was going to be the next step in my journey!
Now, after over a year at Prodigal (internship and beyond), I can honestly say I didn’t fall prey to the paradox of choice, and the accompanying opportunity cost regret. My time here has embodied the Wharton credo of “stretch experiences”, driving me to grow faster than I ever thought possible.
I’m extremely excited to see what the future holds for me, and Prodigal!
Onwards and upwards!