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Christopher Marks

First day at Property Partner

6 min read

I don't like to post publicly about myself because it feels imposing. Old, narcisstic Facebook posts make me cringe really hard. But today I felt like 9 years of pursuing random interests came together and I really want to share it.

 

When I was 10 years old, I started playing Runescape. I loved the game. What I loved most was being able to trade with other players, learning how the different markets in the game operated, and using that understanding to increase my in-game net worth so me and my brother could buy cool armor and go on adventures. This is still true, but cool armor has become secure housing and investment portfolios and adventures now include traveling and trying new foods together. I inadvertently developed a deep interest in markets. I also learned how to type real quick because of all the "shouting" I made my character do in order to trade with other players.

 

When I was 14 years old, I started playing Team Fortress 2. I also loved this game. I was addicted to trading and analysing the in-game economy. So addicted that I would stay up until 4am updating my trades on auction sites while spamming the chats of trading servers. I still remember the value of pretty much every tradable item in the game. My grades and extracurricular involvement predictably tanked. I regretted and beat myself up for it incredibly hard at the time.

 

The summer after my sophomore year in 2012, my wonderful dad encouraged me to apply to deliver an Ignite speech at the Google I/O web developer's conference in San Francisco on what I learned about economics from trading on Runescape and Team Fortress 2. I didn't realise what I was committing to when I sent a pitch to the Ignite committee. I have never felt so surreastically nervous in my life before getting up stage to nerd out in front of 800 people. I don't think I would've gone up if it weren't for the years my mum devoted to getting my very shy self involved with theater performance and public speaking from a young age. When I walked off that stage, I remember thinking that I'd said all the interesting stuff I had to say in the world and that it was time to learn some more interesting stuff.

 

This was a tipping point for me. I started reading tons of economics books and taking tons of online classes in economics and finance. My interest in economics stemmed from my interest in markets, which stemmed from my interest in wanting to know how the world worked. I became particularly interested in behavioural science after taking a MOOC in Gamification from Prof. Kevin Werbach, and subsequently beginning to read the canon of Thaler, Sunstein, and Kahneman.

 

These interests somehow managed to land me a spot at the University of Warwick to study Economics. The circumstances make me laugh. I learned of the school 5 minutes before sending off my UCAS by shamelessly googling "uk university rankings in economics" and almost withdrew my application when I got rejected by every other school on my UCAS list. I lucked my way into an incredible economics department at a school I had never heard of. It was so surreal that the first month I was there I kept thinking the school was going to go belly-up and the degree would be worthless. It seemed too good to be true.

 

In my first year, the two most valuable things I did were participating in a Nudgeathon, a behavioural science policymaking conference put on by the WBS Behavioural Science Group, and enrolling in an advanced web development coding seminar. At the Nudgeathon, I had the opportunity to work alongside PhD candidates in Behavioural Science in an array of activities and competitions for a weekend. In the coding seminar, I gained familiarity with HTML, CSS, Javascript, SQL, and PHP.

 

In the summer following my first year, I interned at a real estate investment firm. I learned the fundamentals of real estate investing, and had a great deal of exposure to all sides of the business including marketing, CRM, bookkeeping, website management, client outreach, data analysis, and more. It was an incredibly thorough grounding in the general workings of a business on a small enough scale that I was able to interact with all of its aspects. I tried to learn as much as I could.

 

Throughout the whole of 2nd year, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I applied to a few places for internships but my heart wasn't really in any of them. I changed my career ideas about twice a month. I've always had trouble committing myself to things where I couldn't see the bigger picture. I hate feeling extrinsically motivated to do things. I eventually stumbled across financial technology through my wider reading and became fascinated. I would spend hours a day researching the fintech ecosystem. I eventually decided that I wanted to get experience working in the fintech space.

 

I first learned Property Partner existed by reading a Business Insider article saying they had secured a huge sum of money in Series B funding. My curiosity was piqued, so I went on their website, and went to the careers section. I noticed they were hiring for a graduate placement position, which I wasn't exactly the perfect fit for, but I figured there was no harm in applying. I sent my CV, a letter of recommendation, and a short cover letter. I then completed two "challenges" -- a 300 word investment case pitch based on a sample property they were soon to release on the platform and to estimate the number of letting agent businesses in Spain. I sent these back and was invited to a graduate assessment day. At this point the jig was up; I sent them an email saying I was interested in an internship and not a graduate placement. I got a phone call saying they were interested, went in to be interviewed, and got the internship I somehow created for myself. YES! I had somewhere to work for the summer!

 

Today, I started work at Property Partner. Throughout the day, I realised that all the skills I had been developing over the years really came together. My understanding of real estate markets and trading platforms gives me a useful background in understanding the dynamics of the primary and secondary markets of the platform. My own self-study into behavioural science and economics has given me the skillset to understand consumer insight analysis, choice architecture, and general growth hacking techniques. My exposure to CRM systems and web-development tools has given me the skillset to understand effective web marketing procedures.

 

I'm amazed by how my general curiosity lead me to this. It's nuts how pursuing seemingly disjointed interests can come together. I don't think I could be happier about where I'm working this summer. I'm so excited for the next 3 months.

 

Life can be real groovy.