Hareklea Markides, MDes Product Design placement student at the University of Leeds

Hareklea Markides

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

GatorDuct primarily work with ductwork systems. They are the first and only providers of sustainable ductwork worldwide due to their innovative use of cardboard ducting.

What is your role within the company?

My role within the company is to work in the innovation team to bring forward alternative uses for its unique material. It is critical that I expand the company’s portfolio by the end of my placement. I am also responsible for any visual work that the company requires, meaning that I had to become competent in using software that I was not previously familiar with. I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that my work greatly depends on problem solving and creativity, which are important skills to have in the product design sector.

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

Working with the GatorDuct team means that there is no real schedule and no two days are the same as projects change and evolve on a daily basis. Every day brings forward a new challenge and new opportunities to develop my skills. The office environment is pleasant and relaxed, which means that any struggles or challenges can be faced with optimism and enthusiasm as there is always a member of the team available and happy to help.

What have you enjoyed the most and did you get involved in any interesting projects?

What I enjoy most about my placement is the diversity in the work that I do. The fact that one day I could be working on branding products and the next day I could be involved in a completely different part of the process i.e. manufacturing. I feel that I am given the opportunity to work in every part of the design and manufacturing industry.

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

Carrying out a placement year meant I had the opportunity to expand my skillset and test my potentials in the design industry. Additionally, I hoped to gain a clearer understanding on how the design industry works and reflect this knowledge in my final year of university.

What did you get out of this experience? 

I already feel a lot more confident to take on the last year of my degree, as not only have I become a significantly more proficient in operating software, but I’ve also learned how to work in a team and lead and manage projects. These are skills that are vital for the final year as well as when working in graduate jobs.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

Start looking as early as possible, but if nothing comes about don’t stop trying. If there is one thing I learned from the job-hunting process last year, it’s that persistence is key. The Employability team send job openings throughout the summer. I had only secured my placement in August.