A Newcastle University student has been named national employee of the year, after helping to relaunch a North East children's rainwear brand.
Natalie Diver, 21 from Hadrian Park, won the top prize at the National Association of Student Employement Services Awards for her work with Baggers Originals, which produces children’s rainwear and swimwear that folds up into a small bag. She worked initially on a ten week placement, arranged by the University’s Careers Service, at the Ponteland-based company, which employs four people.
As part of her role Natalie, who is just about to start the final year of her degree in Business Management at Newcastle University Business School, had to carry out market research to find out if a relaunch of the brand was feasible. Her role was then expanded to look after social media for the company and she helped to create the new look website through which they are selling the products. Following her work the brand is now also selling in stores in Ireland and Monsoon and Fenwick have agreed to stock the products.
Thanks to her efforts Natalie also scooped the Off-Campus Employee Award both in the North East and nationally. Natalie said: “It is really nice to see all my effort start to pay off for the company. Working at Baggers Originals has taught me some really important skills, which I will be able to take forward to my future career. Throughout the placement, I was also able to apply a lot of the learning from my degree so I really feel I’ve had a great grounding in the business and that has undoubtedly contributed to me winning this amazing award.”
Angela McLean, Managing Director of Baggers Originals, who was also runner-up in the Employer of the Year category, said: “Natalie has been intrinsic to the re-launch of Baggers Originals. Thanks to the work she carried out we realised there was a gap in the market that Baggers could fill. Her research has proved to be very accurate and our clothes are selling well. She did much more than her job specification and has become a key player in the team.”
As well as Natalie and Angela, two other Newcastle University students were shortlisted at the awards. Jessica Wright, who studies Food and Human Nutrition won Student Temp of the Year for the North East and was runner-up nationally. And Leonie Hondeborg, a Media, Communications and Cultural Studies student, was International winner in the regional heats and national runner-up for her work with Silverbean, one of the North East’s largest digital marketing agencies.
The Careers Service at Newcastle University is instrumental in setting up work placements similar to these for hundreds of students every year.
Andrew Haxell, Assistant Director of the Careers Service at Newcastle University, said: “It can really give graduates an advantage in the job market if they can demonstrate some work experience while at university to supplement the skills they develop in the classroom. Natalie has clearly impressed on her placement and that will give her a great career boost. Placements like this are available to all of our students and we work hard to foster relationships with national and regional employers to ensure we match the right student with the right company.”
Latest Government figures show that last year 95.2% of Newcastle University graduates were in employment or further education six months after graduating, one of the highest rates in the country.
published on: 12 July 2013