Going beyond coursework and into the crazy startup world of Paradime

Working at a startup as a fresher can be hugely rewarding.

Going beyond coursework and into the crazy startup world of Paradime
 min read
Going beyond coursework and into the crazy startup world of Paradime

I am Madeleine Boyd, Junior Product Designer at Paradime. I joined Paradime in August 2021 as part of my university course program at the University of the Arts London, where I am pursuing a BA in Graphic and Media Design. The University offers students the opportunity to take a year out between the second and third year to build industry experience.

Why Paradime

During the process of searching for and applying to internships, a course leader pointed out that the majority of my work thus far had been experience-focused, with a clear interest in interactions, user interface, and experience design. Product design turned out to be the perfect fit, which is how I found my way into Paradime.

Early days

Since joining Paradime, I have jumped between a few different areas of design, including projects in the product, marketing, and web design. Each has provided me the chance to build on existing skills and opened the door to many new ways of approaching projects while working in a small, fast-paced startup.

Starting out in an early-stage startup has been a great way to enter the real world, as it were, outside of an academic environment. I work with other team members—the co-founders, product engineers, content creators, and other designers quite closely and am constantly pushed to interact with everyone in the company to ask questions and discuss ideas. Our collaborative environment is something I—and we as a group of individuals—hugely value and continue to add to as we grow with incredible new skill sets.

I have had the opportunity to build my technical skill set, from becoming comfortable with using Figma to develop and execute product designs that were released to our users, understanding product design workflows, and learning the basics of developing Figma plugins. Not to mention the not-so-technical skills, such as prioritizing my work that may have an impact on others, being able to learn new tools quickly, and responding to design notes and comments, among a long list of others.

Culture and cooperation

Maddy working with backend developers during the Hack week

Company culture was a hugely important aspect of my search for a work experience placement this year. Working in a small startup means you aren’t going to get lost in a crowd or become a number in a system, which feels like a daunting prospect while searching. When I joined Paradime, we were a team of six and have since grown to 21. The really special thing is that everyone is always willing to help out and provide their own expertise if they can. We truly are a group of problem solvers and approach any wall someone comes up against with indomitable team effort until a solution is found.

Learning and openness

A big personal intrigue to Paradime, aside from the overall product and vision, was the openness to learning. As a student, you have (hopefully!) come from an environment focused on building your skills. However, it can be difficult to get a real grasp on how to transfer, apply, or understand what will actually be useful in a work environment. From the get-go, Paradime was clear on having a “we don’t know everything, that’s how we got here” mentality. If we already knew everything, why would a team be brought together to build this new product? Questions are encouraged, misunderstandings are walked through, and to be entirely honest—it makes life more interesting to work with an attitude of being open to a bit of everything! Some of my most enjoyable days at Paradime have been when I dedicated a few hours to a new skill, which in turn enabled me to speed up other workflows or offer a new perspective on future work. 

Future decisions 

I break down how working at Paradime has shaped my approach to future opportunities and decisions into two core sections: learning new skills and working in a high-growth, high-autonomy environment.

Skill building

From the start, it was clear that Paradime was very forward with encouraging you to pursue learning opportunities, find your strengths, and facilitate engagement with them in professional and personal capacities.

In the early months of joining Paradime, I posed the question, “What skills would make me valuable to join full-time after graduating?”, already considering the possibility of rejoining the company after graduating. Soon after, I was down a rabbit hole of understanding and building Figma plugins. It has been fascinating to consider the automation of some aspects of work and how I can make small but repetitive processes easier for our design team. Consequently, this will also open our design processes to team members who may not be familiar with them.  

Working environment

Having had little prior experience working with a professional team and certainly not understanding the wide variety of working environments out there, I highly value the environment Paradime has built and continues to expand—as well as maintain—as we grow. People are not only highly skilled in their individual areas but also very open and willing to share knowledge to add value to projects they may not even be involved in. I’m not the one to say if this is a common or rare situation to come across, but I couldn’t imagine an ideal way of working. Particularly, in a small company like Paradime, we genuinely rely on sharing of skill sets to keep moving forward. 

So far... 

Overall it’s a proud moment to be able to look at how I approached new projects and an entirely new way of working within a team from when I started back in August to now.

More recently, I’ve been diving into design theory to be able to make decisions grounded in the basics. Given the pace of how we work, having a rock-solid understanding of design rules will be a valuable asset to make swift progress—instead of always starting from scratch when approaching something new.

Looking back at the future decisions notes from earlier is being able to understand the value—of yourself, your work, your work within a team, the team you work with, and everything, really. It’s important to understand what you value and what you would want to get into the world of work, whether that is continuing to grow your knowledge and skills, being an indispensable member of an organization, or just making really awesome stuff because that’s what you want to do.

(If those last three things sounded up your street, by the way—hope to see you at standup 😉)

If Maddy’s story here at Paradime fascinated you, head over to our careers page, where we may have something interesting for you. Follow us on LinkedIn to keep updated on everything Paradime.

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