Gaining experience in a new career field with Tyson and Level UP

Since the launch of the Level UP program in late January, over 6000 students have signed up and are at various stages of the program. We had the opportunity to speak with, Tyson Bilton, a student at the University of Calgary working towards his Honours degree in Finance, Bachelors in Commerce. For his Level UP project, Tyson worked as a Marketing Strategist for the HSBC Social Innovation Academy.
March 31, 2021
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Since the launch of the Level UP program in late January, over 6000 students have signed up and are at various stages of the program. The first round of projects have just concluded and we had the opportunity to speak with one of the first alumni of the program, Tyson Bilton, a multidisciplinary student at the University of Calgary. Tyson is working towards his Honours degree in Finance, Bachelors in Commerce, and a certificate in Sustainability Studies. For his Level UP project, Tyson worked as a Marketing Strategist for the HSBC Social Innovation Academy (SIA).

Could you tell me a little more about the scope of the project you worked on?

I did a Level UP project with the HSBC Social Innovation Academy, who I’ve had past experience with working for already. I joined as a Marketing Strategist to help create a cohesive storyline in order to recruit youth from a variety of backgrounds and regions of Canada. SIA was looking at different organizations and publications to reach out to for their upcoming fellowship programs, aiming to have a really diverse applicant pool.

What soft and hard skills did you get out of working on your Level UP project?

The title of Marketing Strategist was actually pretty intimidating as I typically took on Finance related roles so this was a bit out of my comfort zone. Getting the experience in high level marketing strategy was really useful for me.

I interviewed 30 alumni over the course of the project and the logistics of creating an engaging storyline in a virtual setting helped me develop interviewer skills. Following a script but also trying to get as much passion out of the interview is a great soft skill I learned.

For hard skills, project strategy and stakeholder management were important to this project. My role was largely as an intermediary, talking to SIA management and connecting their ideas to different publications and alumni.

How was your experience working and communicating with the employer?

It was amazing, especially having built a relationship with the team in the past couple of years. It was easy to jump back in and I felt like I was fully integrated with the team for those 80 hours I worked. There wasn’t an internship mentality because they let me join a lot of their high level discussion meetings, which I really appreciated. Slack was our main communication channel and I appreciated being in the loop on everything. 

Something that stood out and made me feel like part of the team was when I was sending outreach emails and the program manager stepped in to let me know that I should refer to SIA as “us” and as “we” because I was a full member of the team so that should be conveyed through my emails as well.

What would you be doing instead if you hadn’t done a Level UP project?

I’m in my last semester, so it’s really a transition for me to finish school and enter the workforce. If I hadn’t done Level UP, I would be continuing the job search and finishing up school, so it was really nice to do it in my last semester to experience working on a final project and really connect it with my studies. I have something I can put on my resume now, in an area that I didn’t have experience in previously.

Did you receive any notable feedback from the employer?

Receiving feedback was efficient because Slack was made connecting on a daily basis so easy. I was receiving candid feedback on a day to day basis which was great.

What would you do differently if you were to participate in another Level UP project?

Honestly, I had a really great experience with the Level UP project. I loved everyone I worked with and I learned a lot in it, so I can’t think of anything I’d do differently. I would do it all over again if I could!

Are there any resources you wish Riipen would have provided you before or during the project?

Not really, I found the online platform and the dashboard really easy to use. It was clear what I needed to complete in order to check the project off. The expectations were clear from the beginning so I didn’t need any resources ahead of time.

Would you recommend Level UP to other students, and if so, who do you think could benefit from Level UP?

I was working in banking and wealth management before I joined university which piqued my interest in the intersection of finance and sustainability. There isn’t an official sustainable finance program at my university so I would say this program is really great for students who are close to finishing their degree but may want to explore their interests in different majors. This is the best opportunity to try something new and get your feet wet in a new industry that you might not have had the opportunity to try out in the past. 

The best part is 80 hours is quite a short project but you can really dive deep into something new, and if you don’t like it, at least it was a short project so you can always try out a different industry later. It’s a great program for people to get out of their comfort zone.


Thank you to Tyson for sharing his experience with the Level UP program. To learn more about how you can be a part of Level UP as an employer or as a student, check out the Level UP page. You can also sign-up for Next LVL to receive bi-weekly Level UP updates, including more stories like Tyson’s.

If you want to get involved with experiential learning, visit our website and keep up with Riipen on Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and Facebook.

Riipen Level UP program is funded by the Government of Canada's Innovative Work-Integrated Learning (I-WIL) Initiatives program. The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


About the author:

Aaron Chang is a Marketing Intern at Riipen, as well as a fourth-year Business student at Simon Fraser University. He is passionate about spreading positivity and creating connections with others. When he has the time, he loves writing short stories, binging anime, and having a little too much chocolate.

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