Interview: Banking Product Developer
Name: Dinara Kunanbayeva
Position: Product developer at a bank
1) Current: Product developer at a bank: 4 months
2) Previous: Sales position at a bank: 1 year
Education: Brandeis University
Length of Job Search: First took job two months, second job took one month
- GPA: Not heavily emphasized.
- Experience: The most important for getting a job (not university or GPA).
- Networking: Not essential.
- Economics Major: A versatile major, can lead to opportunities in many business fields.
- Job Search: Used a job search website and applied to many jobs.
- Work: 80% of work is computed-based.
- Skills: Excel and basic computer skills are a huge plus.
1. What is your job?
Dinara: I am a product developer at a bank.
2. What does a product developer do?
Dinara: As a product developer, I work on launching new credit cards and other consumer lending products that align with the bank’s strategy.
3. So your current job is product development, isn’t that different than economics?
Dinara: Well, it is different than economics, but you know, it is related to money and banking because you have to know all the financial stuff in order to create a banking product. You have to know financial parameters, rates, and stuff like that. So economics helps you develop better products but it is not directly related to it.
4. Do you think this is more fun than in a way that would be directly related?
Dinara: I think so, yes. I chose economics because it was a major that would give me options and one of the options was to go into banking. You don’t have to do economics and become a researcher or something like that.
5. What is an average day like at your job?
Dinara: I come in at 9am. I start my day with checking my email. If I have some emails that I want to reply immediately, I reply right away. If it is something that I need time for, then I take my time I think that most of the tasks I have are on email because I get those tasks from different people. “Can you take a look at this new product” and so on. So my work kind of revolves around my email. Then, depending on what we are doing, I could be doing excel spreadsheets, or making presentations, sometimes we have meetings. I could have up to two meetings a day, talking to my co-workers or people in other departments. We discuss issues, new products, all that kind of stuff. Sometimes you have to type of product descriptions, fix errors, test software, so it is a lot of computer work. I would say it is 80% computer work and 20% meeting with people
6. So, after graduating from college, why did you choose to go into your industry?
Dinara: After I graduating, I was exploring different options. Banking jobs are stable, pay pretty well, I could use some of the knowledge I had, and I didn’t want to work at a smaller firm because bigger banks offer better job security. I think bigger banks offer better benefits. Also, the structure, working from 9-6, that suits me.
7. How did you get your job?
Dinara: I used a job search website. I applied to everything related to banking. I started getting calls and going on interviews and I liked it.
8. About how many jobs did you apply to and about how many did you hear back from?
Dinara: I applied to around 200 and I heard back from maybe 10. But, when they called me, we started discussing the job description and I realized that it didn’t match my preferences or maybe the salary wasn’t big enough. But the job that I have now, it was very close to what I wanted and the salary was pretty good.
9. Why did you leave your first job?
Dinara: I had to move back to my country, Kazakhstan. My previous job was in banking sales. I got tired of that and wanted to try something new—something for intellectual, creative—not just selling. Sales is a great field but you get tired of it. I wanted to try something more creative and intellectual. Sales is a great field, but you know you get tired of it.
10. What advice do you have for someone considering your field?
Dinara: If you can’t get this job, get something that is related to it. You can work in sales. Sales is something that most people are qualified for. Sales jobs are kind of easy to get. So if you work in sales, especially banking sales, like selling financial services and products, you have a high chance of getting a job in my field. Not from a development point of view, but from the sales point of view. That’s what I had. They said “Oh, you know banking products?” and I said “Yes, I do”. I’d say get a job in sales or related in banking before applying for a job like mine so that you can say that you know at least a little bit of banking. Or even a sales or banking background. So that they can teach you and train you more.
11. Let’s say I am a junior in college, how would I know if a banking job is right for me?
Dinara: Just look up the classes that you like. For example, if you like your marketing class a lot, just go into the marketing field. Try to get an internship at some advertisement firm or marketing firm. If you like money and banking, you find an internship there. There are so many internship options that you can pretty much find anything, so you can definitely find something you like. Just look at the classes you like and try to connect them to real-life fields. Maybe ask your professors. “I really like this class, what kind of job would be similar to what I am learning here? How can I use my knowledge?”
12. What would you say is a good sign that someone is suited for your field? For example, let’s say that I don’t know what kind of field I want to go to, but when I talk to you, you say “Oh, Mike, because you like such and such, you would be perfect for banking.”
Dinara: For my part of banking, product development, I would say if you like working with excel and different software, this could be interesting for you. I use excel almost every day. My job doesn’t involve math at all, so it is more like the creative side of developing a product. All the financial stuff is the finance department that takes care of it. We consult different departments and cooperate with them, and in the end we create a product. So, I would say depending on the part of product development you like you could go into different fields. So, if you like being the consolidator, the creative mind, product development works for you. Also, you have to have basic computer skills and knowing excel is a huge plus.
13. So, if I were a college student right now, say a senior, what should I study to get a job lie yours?
Dinara: I would say economics is always good. Also finance or business. If you want to be more specific, I would say marketing, for product development, but that is really specific. The other three are more general and give you more options.
14.What do you think was the most helpful in getting your job (internship, GPA, built app, etc)? What recommendations do you have for those looking for a job in your field?
Dinara: I would say, my GPA really did not matter. I have been to so many interviews and nobody asked me about my GPA. I have been to over 20 job interviews after I graduated from college, so I have a lot experience with interviews. I don’t think it really matters in the real world. People care more about skills. Like, if you know some programs or if you have some knowledge in a particular field, that is really helpful. You can show them that you have some experience and that you are somehow better than other new graduates. Like , if you have an advantage over them. That is great. For me, that was my sales experience. When I was a student, I worked for a firm that baby products. I was one of their sales agents. Having that little thing on my resume helped me at my sales job and after I got that job I was able to get another job in banking. So you know, step by step you get where you want to get. Just by having those little things in your resume, like the word “sales” can make a big difference. I wouldn’t rely on GPA. Unless you want to go to grad school.
15. Is there any other advice you have for recent graduates?
Dinara: Explore your options. Don’t limit yourself, especially when you have just graduated from college. You are not going to necessarily get a job exactly in what you want, but you might get something else. Try it out. Maybe later you will get what you want. Just don’t feel like you only want one thing. Just open your eyes and look at other options that match your major. Another thing is to be resilient. Be hard working because looking for a job is a full-time job. Apply, apply, apply. Eventually, you’ll get something. If you can apply to 50 jobs in one day, that is great. The more you apply to, the higher the chances are that you’ll get something.