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Gaining experience at one of Australia’s most successful start-ups

Third year Computer Science and Mathematics student Max Hunter talks about his placement experience with Airwallex in Melbourne, Australia.

Max showing his work on computers
"My role is to work on the ‘backend’ of the company, working on how the money is sent around."

Choosing my degree

I loved computer science at school, but wanted an extra challenge for my university studies, so chose to do a combined computer science and mathematics degree. It’s challenging as you are in classes with some students that are 100% maths, and some that are 100% computer science.

Finding my placement

I’m from Australia originally, having moved to the UK when I was young, so I decided that I’d like to go back there for my placement. It was a challenge finding a placement as the academic year is different in Australia, which meant I couldn’t apply to the majority of organisations. Eventually, I was able to secure a placement at Airwallex, a large-sized start-up, through a family friend’s connection.

Working for Australia’s newest ‘unicorn’ start-up

Airwallex fills a gap in the market for small to medium-sized businesses that need to send money around the world. They are Australia’s newest ‘unicorn’ start-up; since starting up in 2015 it is now worth more than $1 billion.

Their main offices are in Melbourne and Shanghai, with their Melbourne office based right in the centre of the city, close to the vibrant Southbank district. I love working as part of a start-up; the office is very cool, and has a great atmosphere.

My role is to work on the ‘backend’ of the company, working on how the money is sent around. I am part of a small team of nine that focuses on hedging and money flow. The first task I was given was to get used to programming and write code that would create a ‘rate scraper’ that would pull down competitors’ rates and put them into a database.

Then I had to make an API for others to access those rates. I have also had to work as a ‘plumber’, by creating plumbing in the system where you have information you want to send to one part of the programme to another—the plumber creates the special tools to do this.

My life in Melbourne

I live in a houseshare, and it has been an adjustment living with a more transient group of people. Most students in Australia live at home, so a lot of people who live in the house tend to be international.

How Bath has supported me

The placement team at Bath was really supportive when I was looking for placement—I received one to one interview practice, which dramatically improved the way I put myself forward.

I think the main thing that helped me secure my placement was my active participation in hackathons and programming competitions like the NWERC. The computer science department was really supportive and gave our team coaching and funded our travel to the competition.

‘My time on placement has made me really think about what to do next. I’d like to do a PhD, but I also love working as a programmer, so I’m now weighing up the options.’
Max Hunter BSc Computer Science and Mathematics including placement year (2021)

Studying computer science at Bath

Computer science courses