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'It Was the Only Company I Applied for': Egor Akimov on His Work at 'Tinkoff' and Career Consultations for Students

Egor Akimov, a graduate of the Bachelor's programme 'International Business and Management', made the start of his career already during his studentship. He was accepted for an internship at 'Ozon', started working in the company and then became a product manager at 'Tinkoff'. To make it easier for students to take first career steps, he created the project 'Alumni Advice' where one can get consultations about work with HSE University-St Petersburg graduates. Find out what Egor shared about his career and the advantages of 'Alumni Advice'.

'It Was the Only Company I Applied for': Egor Akimov on His Work at 'Tinkoff' and Career Consultations for Students

Photo courtesy of Egor Akimov

What did your career start with?

— I started to look for internships right after I came back from the academic mobility. At the foreign university, the classes finished earlier, in May, and I had a little more time than my groupmates. I didn't systemise my search in any way: except that I expelled the directions which didn't suit me—for instance, finance and numerical analytics. 

Then, I started looking through companies' landing pages, career websites and the careerspace webpage—this is a startup which helps people find a job. Quite often, I came across the advertisements about 'Ozon. Camp', an internship programme. And I thought: 'Why don't I apply?' Firstly, I made a resume and then took an online test. It was similar to the GMAT format, the questions were about numerical and verbal analytics. Then, I learnt my grade and went to a business game. As a result, they offered me an internship.

I got into 'Ozon. Global'—a team of international commerce. I was offered this department because I studied in the programme 'International Business and Management'. I engaged in individual countries—including Korea. I explained to vendors where they could distribute their goods and analysed the results—in short, I tried to simplify the way to the first sale as much as possible. The internship lasted for six months, and then, they took me on the staff.

Why did you take an interest in product management?

— I liked working at 'Ozon', this is an energetic company which helps young employees to develop. Besides, they have a great corporate culture, and the leaders are always ready for feedback. But at the same time, I realised that I was not that interested in sales. I wanted something different. My team lead wanted me to develop in the sphere of 'business developement' but I started thinking about another option. 

At 'Ozon. Global', I communicated with product managers and business analysts quite a lot and set sights on these professions. My supervisor also helped me with development: he often gave me research tasks. For example, once, I had to find out if we should introduce PayPal instead of bank transfers for users from the Baltic states. I carried out an analysis and discovered that simple bank accounts were much more comfortable for users. This case vividly showed that the opinions of users and analysts do not always coincide.

The job of a product manager seemed attractive to me for another reason as well. When you work in sales, you can't influence the product. The maximum you can do is to pass negative feedback to someone else. But if you want to cure clients' pains, you should go to product management or business analysis. At least, this is what I thought back then.

How did you get into 'Tinkoff'?

— In one of the chats, I saw a message that 'Tinkoff' was actively looking for product managers and business analysts. I decided to apply and drew up a resume. It was the only company I applied for, and they hired me almost right away. One hundred percent conversion! It is rare.

I was invited to several teams but I chose 'TWork'—this team develops an internal system for bank employees. It is important to improve it regularly as it increases the staff efficiency. If the number of clients is growing, it is especially useful. Besides, the system should motivate the staff in some way. Finding a way to do it was the responsibility of the Gamification Department. This is where I ended up. I started working as a business analyst and gradually grew into a product manager.

In the summer of 2023, I changed my team and transferred to Central University—an educational institution opened by 'Tinkoff'. Now, I am working on a platform for applicants. Through this platform, one can learn more about educational programmes, professors and other things. Now, we are striving to make this platform more attractive. May all the applicants want to stay there longer, and the admissions process become as comfortable as possible.

What do you see your development like?

— I really like the place where I am working. The company takes care of staff development, and all the processes for it are tried and tested. But the coolest thing is that there are lots of employees who have worked in the company for many years. What is even more interesting: some people come back to 'Tinkoff'. This means that they change the job for some time but then, come back. This definitely shows the level of the company. This is a place where people want to work.

Perhaps, in the future, I would like to become a head of product managers: they come up not with one product but a whole product line. But it would be the next step, it is too early to talk about it.

— At HSE University, you have launched career consultations with alumni—'Alumni Advice'. How did you decide to do it?

— In fact, my friends and I started holding such consultations when we were still students. We had calls with other students and helped them prepare their first resumes or apply for a certain position. I myself felt a lack of advice about what to start with or how to implement knowledge gained at the university. So I understood that there is a demand for such conversations. I talked to the staff of the Career Centre, and we decided to turn this idea into a project. This is how 'Alumni Advice' appeared.

Of course, there were certain events with alumni at the university. More than once. But their purpose was different, they mostly worked for motivation. But we aim to go over each person's experience in detail. Under the conditions of a mass meeting, it is almost impossible, especially if we want to look at the mistakes in someone's resume. Many people simply get shy. But we offer completely different conditions. We speak face to face, and it is easier for people to communicate. Such a dialogue turns out to be more open as we are recent graduates who lived through a similar experience.

— Why is such help from graduates important?

— While studying, you mostly focus on concise and short-term goals: pass exams or master mathematical analysis... But in fact, each student will have to face a long way after university as well. A graduate has already walked a part of it and can help, drive towards the first career step.

Plus, not every student understands how and which tools are used in practice. It is okay as they don't have any work experience. But a graduate can explain and show all these things. When student's motivation grows, they will understand which skills they lack and start to develop them more actively.

— What questions have you already received from students?

— I face two types of inquiries most often. Junior students are interested in which way to make their career is the most efficient and where they can go in general. Senior students ask questions about a certain profession: what to start with to get there and which skills to advance.

Often, they ask for help with resumes: people simply don't understand what to put in there. Then, I start asking a student, what projects they worked on during their studies and what results they achieved, and remind them about 'Project Fair'. I specify if a person worked in a team or not. All these things can and should be in a resume.

This year, I have been meeting with extremely cool students in the first and second years. They show me their resumes with some projects from the school times, hackathons, accelerators... The only assistance I can give in such cases is the choice of direction. I want to recommend some of them to 'Tinkoff' through the programme 'Bring a Friend' as they have enough experience for junior positions.

— Can you give three pieces of advice to students who want to find themselves?

— Pursue all the opportunities at the university. Educational, extracurricular, research, practical, service—any. You can find what you'll like in a very unexpected place. But if you objectively realise that you wouldn't be able to pull off everything, start with your priorities.

Don't give up even only trying to change something. Sometimes students are scared to apply for an internship because they have an exam period in a couple of months. But why would you worry so far in advance? They don't even have an offer yet. You can make a decision later. In this case, your attempt is the most important thing because it alone gives you some experience.

Identify your goal. By yourself, with a mentor or with a graduate. Ask questions and think about which direction would be the most interesting for you to pursue. When you fix upon a direction, it will become easier for you to make further decisions. If an offer doesn't correspond to your goal, perhaps, you don't really need it.

'Alumi Advice' is a series of free consultations from the graduates of HSE University-St Petersburg. The project launched in 2023, and in March 2024, the consultations were renewed. For more information, check out the website of the project.