J.P. Morgan liked Xenia Tchoumitcheva. When the Swiss-Italian-Russian model who speaks six languages and has an economics degree interned with the bank in London in 2012, she was lucky enough to receive an offer of a full time job.
While many people might be super-happy to work as an analyst at JPM, Tchoumitcheva decided against it. In the three years since, she’s since become a successful fashion blogger working with brands like Versace, Ferragamo, Todds, Stella McCartney and Rolls Royce.
If you’re a summer intern, Xenia has these words for you. She has 353,000 followers on Instagram and nearly three million likes on Facebook. Maybe you’ll also decide to become a fashion blogger instead.
1. You interned at JPMorgan in 2012. What was the hardest thing about the internship?
I think it was adapting to the structure and the hierarchy. I started as a model and TV host at 18 and am now a digital influencer running my own business. I’ve always been used to decide my own hours, be very creative, be in charge of people who work with me, work weekends and take breaks whenever I need them. At the bank I had to start from the bottom of the ladder in a very structured and rigid environment.
2. Did you find there were many other women in your intern class? Or are internships a male-dominated affair?
No – during the internship I met several women with whom I’ve stayed friends. However, I think the financial industry becomes increasingly male dominated as you become more senior. You tend to see more men holding their jobs and advancing in their careers, while women still struggle to juggle family duties and long work hours. I believe that there’s room for improvement in the support structure for women with young kids. It’s an important subject across all sectors, not only banking.
3. Which division did you intern in?
Investment banking – Futures & Options Sales trading
4. Did you plan to get a job in banking at the end of your internship? Did you receive an offer? What made you turn it down?
Yes, absolutely! I received an offer, but I decided to not go through with it because I realised that I really wanted to keep being independent in my career and start my own business. That’s how the idea of chicoverdose.com, my blogazine was born. Now I work with the biggest fashion brands and we have reached around 3 million fans across social media.
5. What advice would you offer young people who are interning in banking today? How can you convert an internship into a job offer?
Work harder than anyone around you, get in earlier and be the last one to leave. Understand what your desk does, be proactive, read a lot about the details of your job.
6. What do you think stops banking interns from getting a job offer?
Sometimes there’s no real vacancy. I would advise them to be flexible and maybe accept another position within the same organisation, this could eventually lead them to the job of their dreams.
7. You’re now an entrepreneur. Do you think entrepreneurship is harder than working in finance?
I never stop working, even on holiday I’m always on my laptop either answering emails, negotiating contracts with brands, speaking to developers of my blogazine or my online shop or simply creating content for my social media and interacting with my fans.
But my job is extremely flexible and creative, which for someone with my personality is easier to handle – I feed off the passion for what I do, and I have a lot of fun.
8. Do you ever have any regrets for passing-up on your banking career?
No, but I’m extremely grateful for the experience in investment banking. Even in a short period of time it taught me to have rigid discipline and how to structure an organisation. Those are skills that I currently use and that I will be using even more in the future as my business grows.