Elizaveta is a Graphic Design student, working as a UX/Graphic Designer in the “amazing” design team at TopCashback. She talks about her experience so far, how problem-solving has improved her communication skills and shares her tips for making the most of your placement.
Tell us about your employer
TopCashback is the most popular British cashback website which has expanded into US, Chinese, Indian and Russian market during 15 years of its existence. If you’re not sure what cashback is – a cashback company helps you get a small part of your money back on your everyday spending when you shop online via their website.
What is your job?
My role in TopCashback is UX/Graphic Designer. I started working at the remotely in August, but since September I have been working at our main office in Stafford. The main purpose of my everyday job is designing different marketing campaigns and other promotional materials for both existing and potential new members, and helping to improve our branding.
Besides that, I have picked several side projects to work on throughout my placement year, one of which is improving of UX and redesign of one of the pages on our website.
Our Design team is small – currently made of six full-timers and two placements – and simply amazing. Everyone is always happy to help and answer all of my many questions. I get all support I need from my colleagues, they listen to my opinion, challenge me, and have a great sense of humour.
Most of the people in our company are currently working from home. I moved to Stafford and got all the equipment I needed for my home office. Our Stafford-based office is, however, open for people who are for some reason unable to work from home. I am one of a few people who come to office every day and undergo something similar to a regular working day – although of course, considering all the excellent health and safety measures we have there, it’s still very different. Overall it’s a unique and enjoyable experience which I am grateful for, because I’ve had a chance to meet at least some people from the company in real life!
What have you learnt so far?
I have certainly improved my ability of understanding a problem and finding a quick and effective solution. Problem-solving is primarily based on communication, and it is a big part of my job. TopCashback is formed of nearly 300 employees working in several countries and departments, and I interact with many of them on a daily basis.
Assertive communication is a big challenge and something I am still working on, but my awareness, confidence, ability to both speak up and listen to others have greatly improved since I started working for the company. These skills are very important in a real work life where the success often depends on many different people and their ability to effectively communicate with each other, and it is something you learn best once you get to experience it.
Highlight so far
At this moment, I have extra responsibilities as an editor of a Winter issue of our internal newsletter which is biannually created by the Design team. I am enjoying this temporary role so much! It has been slightly challenging for me because the period around Black Friday and Christmas is the busiest for us, but this experience is very helpful in terms of time management and setting up my priorities at work.
What are you going to be working on in the future?
I found myself enjoying working on our branding so much I have decided to make updating our current design templates one of the bigger side projects which I am working on throughout my year in the company. This way I am making sure that our creatives look fresh, follow our branding, and share the message we want to share.
Another important side project which I already mentioned above is redesign of UX and UI of one of the pages on our website and creating its responsive version, which allows me to thoroughly understand all stages of UX process, and to see a real testing process with our members – this is something I am very much looking forward to as it will make a significant piece of work in my portfolio.
What would you say to any student considering doing a placement?
During a placement, you will grow. You will get confident. You will experience a real-life working process which is truly priceless. A placement year is a winning ticket for the world of real jobs and the competition that comes with it. The competition is huge, but the year you spend in the industry sets you up above your peers because once you graduate and start looking for a job, work experience is the one key element in your CV that your potential future employer will be looking at.
Making the most of your placement year
Finally, here are some tips for the start of your placement from me:
Share your opinions and ideas. A bad idea is better than no idea.
Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of it. There will be no improvement if you never ask for advice. It’s always better to ask than to make a mistake. But…
Making mistakes is also a part of the process! Don’t lose your confidence over it. It doesn’t mean that you’re failing. It means that you’re learning something new. And that is what the placement is for.