Grads of the UK is an Instagram project and series of articles run by graduates, for graduates. We are documenting what being a millennial in 2017 is really like, with honest stories about life after university.
Every week we hand over our Instagram account to a new grad and share their unique story here on GradTouch. This week, Christina Hu, a University of Cambridge graduate now working for Ernst and Young, is taking over.
You can read our interview with Christina below, and see more daily insights into her life since uni by following @gradsoftheuk on Instagram.
Christina is one of the most ambitious graduates I have ever spoken with.
After graduating from the University of Cambridge in 2014, Christina moved to London to start her career. Now, she’s a Senior Strategy Consultant with multinational accountancy firm, Ernst & Young (EY). She describes her role as “helping some of the most prestigious companies solve some of their most complex problems.”
Her favourite thing about her work is the opportunities that come with it: she’s advised a Government Department’s Director of Strategy on how to operate more efficiently, travelled to Luanda, Angola for business, and worked with a start-up on a digital platform to make life easier for healthcare professionals and save billions for the NHS.
But she’s not even nearly done yet. In five years, Christina hopes to be a Senior Manager or to have started her own business. Ultimately, she wants to be a successful serial entrepreneur.
Growing up, Christina says the attitude “be excellent; be the best; be top of your class” was instilled in her by her parents.
“When you’re a child and you have that kind of firm influence guiding you it does stick with you for a long time,” Christina reflects. With each success she has – from getting into Cambridge to landing a job at a world-renowned organisation – she’s motivated to achieve more.
“It’s kind of self-reinforcing as well, because you get that feeling of ‘oh yeah, actually, I am doing pretty well,’ then you get a kick out of that and you’re like ‘yeah actually, I want to maintain that position at the top,’” she says.
As a graduate, Christina says: “I feel more content now than before… something I didn’t quite expect was that I’d still be having as much fun as I did at uni.
“Even though the nature of what I do for fun has changed – think more cocktail bars, house parties, lates [open nights] at museums, than hard-core clubbing”.
Since graduating, her priorities have shifted from striving to be the best, to thinking about how she can have a positive impact on the world.
“I’ve found myself becoming more motivated by other, more meaningful, drivers, such as impact,” she tells me, adding, “the deeper and more widespread the impact, the better.”
At the moment, it’s all about taking in as much as she can in her current role, learning, growing and accumulating the skills she needs to succeed on her own and make the impact she dreams of.
She says, “I’m trying to take a slow and steady route,” to entrepreneurship.
“I’m aware there’s a lot of grads who come straight out of uni and are like ‘I’m going to start a start-up and it’s going to be brilliant, I’m going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg.’
“But actually, as stats show, 7 out of 10 fail completely – fizzle out before they’ve even started going beyond year one or something.”
I ask whether she fears failure, the prospect of being one of the 7 out of 10 that don’t make it and about any challenges or failures she's faced so far.
“I don’t think there’s been any huge failures I can think of,” Christina says, “obviously there are always hiccups and you don’t always get absolutely everything you want, but most of the time I’ve been able to either get over it or learn from that experience and just take something from it.”
"I feel very fortunate to be as lucky as I have been with my journey - I've put in a fair amount of hard work to get to where I am, but a lot of my great opportunities have been as a result of luck."
She confirms that success and happiness, are inextricably linked for her, “for sure”.
More than fear of failure, she fears the idea that she won’t do anything that changes the world.
“I think it’ll be pretty disappointing to be eventually on my deathbed and be like, ‘oh, you know, the world could’ve done without me really,’” she admits. “‘What’s the point of existing?’ is something that I ask myself.”
“Because you don’t want to be someone who just kind of floats through life and doesn’t really change anything – as in, the world wouldn’t be any better off with you in it. And you’re just adding to the carbon dioxide, really.”
Finally, I ask Christina about what her future business might look like and in what way she hopes to change the world. She says one key reason for pursuing serial entrepreneurship is because she is “undecided about what specifically to pursue”. It seems the need to make an impact itself, not the specific impact that venture might have, is what fuels her. And she is wholly determined to be one of the ones that finds success launching a start-up.
“At the moment it’s still a pipe dream,” Christina says, “I’m not sure what that business enterprise might look like eventually. But I want it to make a big difference.”
Christina is running the @gradsoftheuk Instagram until Friday 10th March.