Success Story · Early Careers Programme · Yuhe (Cindy) Zhou

Name: Yuhe (Cindy) Zhou.
Location: Adaptive London.
Background: Degree in Mathematics from Imperial College London.
Current Role: Adaptive Java Developer.

It is often believed that completing a STEM degree at a world-class academic institution means the world is your oyster when looking for exciting developer roles. Yet, with so many jobs across different sectors, making the right early career choices is important to get ahead and thrive in the long term.

Cindy Zhou, Adaptive Software Engineer based in London, was well aware of the challenges she might face while transitioning from college to her first real job. So, in 2019, she joined the Adaptive Early Career Programme to help that transition and become a bright software developer.

Now, four years later, we sit down with Cindy to dig into her past challenges and uncover the incredible journey she had in the programme.

 

What factors led you to pursue a career as a software developer in Fintech?

It is something I’ve always been passionate about, really. While studying for my degree in mathematics and statistical finance at Imperial College London, I knew that I wanted to apply my education and forge a career around subjects I am passionate about. The intersection of finance and technology is something I am deeply enthusiastic about.

Did you face any challenges upon completing your degree and embarking on the journey of finding your first job opportunity?

Despite my academic background, it was still difficult to grasp complex financial markets and the fast-moving technology underpinning them.> Even with the strongest degrees from the best universities, it takes time for individuals to learn how to apply these skills and solve real-world problems. I, therefore, wanted to find somewhere that would give me a platform to learn more about development, capital markets and trading technology.

In my search, I stumbled across Adaptive at the Imperial Career Fair. Speaking to the team at the event, the business ticked all the boxes – innovative, exciting and international – and it felt like the right place for me. The best part was that they had an Early Careers Programme (ECP), a development training scheme for developers at the beginning of their careers. I submitted my application through LinkedIn, and in 2019, I took the first steps in my Adaptive career.

What is the Early Careers Programme (ECP)?

Adaptive’s ECP takes on budding students and early fintech developers – giving them the tools and training they need to build a career in the industry. The programme is tailored to individual strengths and interests, partners trainees with seasoned experts at the top of their game and allows new recruits to work on real-world projects.

The nine-month programme started with financial, software and soft skills training before launching into projects. One consisted of building a stopwatch, and the other one, a project stock tracker. Once we were comfortable with the theory, we would get hands-on with the support of senior staff, building trading technology for sophisticated financial services firms.

How did the ECP help you to define your career?

While I did have coding skills before joining Adaptive, the ECP helped me to take my experience to the next level. In the beginning, I joined the front-end development team – I enjoyed the work but felt my interests and knowledge were better suited elsewhere. I asked to be moved to work on back-end development – an area that I fell in love with and have remained since. This flexibility allowed me to adjust my trajectory in line with my passions, which is hugely important and highly motivating. It allowed me to build the career that I want rather than fill a business requirement at a specific point in time.

Any other highlights of the ECP?

The projects we worked on also allowed me to collaborate closely with peers on the programme – not as competing teams but as working with one another as a group. We would work in two-week sprints – challenging each other’s work, thinking of new angles and offering different perspectives to ensure the best end result.

As well as having exposure to my peers and senior staff at a project level, I was also assigned a mentor – someone I could ask questions and who would guide me through the process. Having this help was vital and made a big difference. I still have a strong relationship with my mentor, and today, I’m an ECP mentor myself, managing teams in North America and Europe.

The ECP has been transformational for my career. Four years after starting out, I am a developer at Adaptive, with an exciting future ahead of me. The programme taught me to think differently about problems and the importance of collaboration and communication, but – most importantly – it gave me the confidence to fulfil my ambition and excel.

Could you offer any advice for someone looking for their first professional opportunity?

The formative first years in your career must be fulfilling, not just intellectually or professionally but also personally. Make sure you know what you want to get in exchange; a feeling of purpose and belonging is critical. Don’t forget to check if the company has a positive culture which challenges and encourages professional growth in a fun and nurturing environment.

If this all sounds like the place you’d like to work at, it is hard to think of a better way to start your career than through Adaptive’s ECP, so keep an eye on our LinkedIn to find out when we are opening new positions.

 

Would you like to learn more about Cindy's experience?
Read her blog post: From a maths graduate to a full stack developer.

Read it here

 

Yuhe (Cindy) Zhou

Software Engineer,
Adaptive Financial Consulting

LinkedIn



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