Ella Palethorpe, University of Leeds graduate and recently announced Graduate Design Engineer at Dyson, tells us her thoughts on navigating work experience as a student and crossing the void into that dream graduate job.
How have you gone about getting experience during university?
Due to COVID-19 I was unable to get an internship so I was constantly worried about not having industry work experience. I managed to obtain a few weeks work experience here and there but nothing for longer than a month.
I worked part-time at bars and events to earn money to fund living at university. I also volunteered at a local charity doing their marketing and helped with graphics for posters, flyers and banners.
I struggled to find relevant opportunities unless I could commit to a year, but by then it was too late and I was too far into my degree. This is why I used Paperound as it gave me access to industry experience for design work.
What did you think of being a Paperound Tasker?
I enjoyed being able to expand my skillset through Paperound. Although I was capable at most tasks, I didn’t have much experience in them, so this really consolidated my learning.
It also allowed me to become more familiar and better at using specific design software such as Photoshop. One project even paid me to learn a completely new software in order to complete a task for them.
There’s so many tasks to choose from and they can vary a lot. It helps you realise what you enjoy, as well as improve on your skills you don’t often use in your degree course.
I did all sorts; designing social media posts, helping set up an etsy shop, creating marketing plans, designing posters etc, creating an AR filter, 3D CAD work, designing websites…
All the work was remote and on a task-by-task basis, so I could arrange zoom calls to fit it in with my university timetable. All the clients I worked with understood that I was a full-time student and were flexible with me when it came to talking about the deadline. It was also great to build professional relationships with some clients that would book me for tasks regularly.
Paperound works well for a lot of students as it allows you to take on how much you want to handle, so if you’re too busy on coursework you don’t have to pick up a lot. When you do pick up tasks though, you have to be confident in managing your time and dealing with clients to make sure you manage and meet expectations for each task.
How did you get the most out of your clients on Paperound?
I mostly connected with clients on LinkedIn where often they would post to thank me for my work. This really helped me with building my network, and increasing my popularity on Paperound.
One client even wrote a testimonial on my LinkedIn too!
Most of my clients leave me reviews on the Paperound site, which has been useful to talk about in interviews as it is evidence of your personality, hard work and skills.
How did Paperound help when it came to graduate job opportunities?
My time with Paperound created multiple experiences that I could talk about in my interviews. It provided good examples for communication and time management skills, aswell as showed initiative and passion for design. It also allowed me to increase the scope of my portfolio to be more than just course work from uni.
The other benefit at interview stage would be simply having more confidence interacting in a professional manner. This made me feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed in interviews.
What tips would give to other students looking to build their experience?
Accept every opportunity that comes to you because you never know what that may bring you. Gaining experience is so important and helps you in more ways than just adding something to your CV.
What would you say to businesses thinking about utilising students for their digital projects?
Students are more than capable of fulfilling tasks, university provides us with all these skills. We just need the opportunity to showcase them and develop them! Plus, businesses get to benefit by getting a much needed piece of work done cheaply and quickly.