Placements 17 – 18

This year’ s students share some of their thoughts, experiences and hopefully give advice to those of you who may well be looking to follow the same path.


BRANDON THOMAS

Which company(s) did you do a placement with and how long for?

Squad: 6 Months

B&B: 3 Weeks

Bluemarlin: 1 Month

Someone: 3 Months

Superunion: 1 Month

What’s the most important thing you learnt from your placement(s)?

How to drink... and what the Industry is really like. You can’t learn how a studio runs, the work which goes in and out of the studio, until you go out and experience it. But the most important thing I learnt is the work I do and don’t want to do.

How did you find accommodation and how much did it cost?

I stayed at home in Manchester (big up mumsy) until I moved down to London. Which involved a few weeks on a friends floor until I took over another friends contract for their shared house. A bit of luck but it’s not too hard to find somewhere to sleep. London’s rent is typically around £150 a week.

What were you asked in the interview?

You don’t really get asked questions per say. It’s more like a friendly conversation with someone but you happen to be showing them some work you’ve done. You might get asked to explain things further or what you’re currently up to.

What did you ask in the interview?

Again same as above, questions I asked could of ranged from what sort of work are they on at the minute to what’s your favourite meal. Just a conversation.

What was the most unusual thing you did?

I feel like a lot of unusual things happened which you don’t realise were quite odd until after it. All depends on the type of project you’re working on. One unusual thing I had to do early on was read out a script in the toilet (quietest room in the place) and record myself doing it.

What experience from your placement(s) are you going to put into practice, now you are back at university for your final year?

The pace. The industry runs a lot faster compared to your first two years of uni. Just keep it rolling, coming up with ideas, trying them, repeating the process. Trusting the process as well. You won’t know if your ideas work if you don’t try them.

How important do you think a placement has been to helping further your design education?

Incredibly Important. Even being in first year you can see the impact placement year had on the fourth years. I knew if I missed on the opportunity of taking a placement year I wouldn’t be as good as I’d like to be in my final year. It’s a wonderful tease. You get a taste for it then can’t wait to get back out there. It gives you a hunger needed to smash your final year. Not to mention all the knowledge and experience you gain.

With hindsight, what advise would you give to a fellow student embarking on a placement?

Just be yourself. Do your thing and smash it. Don’t waste it. Don’t forget to work hard, chat to people, to never turn down a pint, and enjoy it. It’s the opportunity to see what you can do with the rest of your life, how brilliant the industry can be. And If you’re lucky enough (like me) you can find out what you want to do with the rest of your life.


KATRINA TRAN

Which company(s) did you do a placement with and how long for?

Jet Design & Marketing: 12 months

What’s the most important thing you learnt from your placement(s)?

The most important thing I learnt was how fast you have to be as there were deadlines to meet everyday.

How did you find accommodation and how much did it cost?

I lived at home for the whole year so commuting for me was about £250 per month, 1h30m long journeys but at least it still would’ve been cheaper than living in Manchester.

What were you asked in the interview?

I was asked to show my portfolio and then we chatted for a bit afterwards about the portfolio, their agency and other general things.

What did you ask in the interview?

I asked if there was anything I could’ve done to improve my portfolio. They were pretty informative with everything else so I ended up not needing to ask them anything.

Did you get paid and roughly how much?

I was paid £250 per month.

What was the most unusual thing you did?

The most unusual thing I did was taking half the day off with the whole team a couple times because the boss suddenly decided she didn’t want to do anymore work, we went to a pub down the road, had drinks and sunbathed all afternoon. Nothing crazy really happened at Jet.

What experience from your placement(s) are you going to put into practice, now you are back at university for your final year?

I am going to be more organised with my time, keep going, work faster and research more thoroughly.

How important do you think a placement has been to helping further your design education?

I think having a placement is very important to see what the actual design industry is like and it helps you figure out what type of agency or work you prefer.

With hindsight, what advise would you give to a fellow student embarking on a placement?

Become a sponge and absorb as much as you can, ask everything you’re curious about even if it starts to annoy them. Work hard and be nice to people!


ANGUS MEIKLE

Which company(s) did you do a placement with and how long for?

The Chase - 3 months

Music - 1 months

Blue Marlin - 2 months

Turner Duckworth - 3 months

Jones Knowles Ritchie - 2 weeks

Superunion - 1 month

Pearlfisher - 1 month

Saffron - 1 month

What’s the most important thing you learnt from your placement(s)?

Learnt so much, how the studios operate and the process of everything. Also, working with people and how to work quicker and more efficiently. Learnt lots from crits and improving on feedback. Communication and confidence of presenting work.

How did you find accommodation and how much did it cost?

Used spare room, shared a house with Jonathan and Lucy while In Manchester. Then again used spare room in London, I lived in Hammersmith for 5 months, which was about £640pm then moved to Putney for 3 months which was £620pm. Really nice houses with really nice flat mates.

What were you asked in the interview?

Asked about my ideas and where they came from, just general chats really asking about me and other places I was at during placement year. Most of them we’re fairly relaxed.

Did you get paid and roughly how much?

Got paid minimum wage at most places, was about £265pw and living wage at TD which was about £390pw.

What was the most unusual thing you did?

First day of Superunion, before I met anyone or sat down I was asked to go to Shakespeare’s Globe to steal leaflets and store bags. Also, was asked to make a few birthday cards for people, photoshopping faces in weird situations.

What experience from your placement(s) are you going to put into practice, now you are back at university for your final year?

The overall process of coming up with good ideas easier, expanding upon them and applying them. Also being able to craft a idea and being able to work a lot quicker.

How important do you think a placement has been to helping further your design education?

It’s been super important, learnt so much and generally just made me such a better designer than I was before I started placement, just want to keep learning. Been an overall great experience at every studio that I was at. Met a lot of great people and invaluable contacts. Hopefully it stands me in good stead to get a job in the future.

With hindsight, what advise would you give to a fellow student embarking on a placement?

Be nice to everyone, try to be confident, ask questions (but don’t be annoying) and just generally get involved in things. Social events are always really good, so always accept tickets/talks people are going too, hanging on a bit after work you’re more likely to get invited to things and always be up for pint.

Improve off feedback given from crits don’t show up a day or two later with something completely different to what you’re told (so take notes). Never just sit there waiting for someone to come to you, get up and find someone if you need help with something or if you have no work on see if you can help anyone out. Make lots of brews. I tried to do two rounds a day morning and afternoon, make sure you ask everyone if they’re around.


FRANCESCA HANLEY

Which company(s) did you do a placement with and how long for?

Design Bridge (Amsterdam): 3 months

NextBigThing (London): 6 months

Turner Duckworth (London): 1 month

What’s the most important thing you learnt from your placement(s)?

Understanding how different size studios operate, how to work in a larger team and how fast deadlines come about in the real world.

How did you find accommodation and how much did it cost?

For Amsterdam myself and another student rented out an Airbnb for 3 months. Coincidentally it turned out to be the same place the previous placement students had stayed! It worked out at roughly £600 a month.

In London I also used Airbnb which did work out to be a bit more expensive. I knew I was going to be at NextBigThing for 6 months so wanted to choose something close to their studio. I walked to work so didn’t spend anything on travel. It was roughly £800 a month.

What were you asked in the interview?

The interviews were very casual and I just talked through my work and they asked questions such as ‘what was the thinking behind this?’ It was informal so it felt more like a chat rather than an interview type situation.

What did you ask in the interview?

I asked about how the studio worked, were we going to be split into teams etc. I also asked what previous work they had worked on and what the role of a placement student would be.

Did you get paid and roughly how much?

In Amsterdam it was £150 per week (we also received the Erasmus Grant for our time here) and in London it ranged from £300-£390 per week.

What was the most unusual thing you did?

Cycling through an unknown part of Amsterdam one lunchtime to collect paper for the Christmas cards was an exciting challenge; especially given we were making a couple of hundred of them that afternoon!

In London I turned up at work one morning only to be asked to buy a bottle of beer (with the packaging they had designed) for use on a photoshoot. Walking into Wetherspoons at 9.30 on a Monday morning was quite strange!

What experience from your placement(s) are you going to put into practice, now you are back at university for your final year?

Working to a much quicker speed! One of the things that most amazed me during placement year is how quickly work can be churned out compared to working at the pace of university. Working in different places and with different teams I also learnt how easier life is when files are organised more logically. It definitely saves so much time doing this.

How important do you think a placement has been to helping further your design education?

Placement year has been fantastic and I am so glad that I chose to do it instead of just going into 3rd year. I feel like I have come out of my shell more and that my confidence has improved much more. I feel that the experiences I have had will be so valuable, not just for fourth year but also for when I graduate. I could not recommend doing a placement year more, even if just for the connections you will make.

With hindsight, what advise would you give to a fellow student embarking on a placement?

The easiest thing to say here would be to go around the studio, introduce yourself and make lots of cups of tea! I felt my confidence in doing this was lacking at first, but after being on placement for a bit and then moving on to other studios it was much easier to chat to people and ask what they were working on.

I think its good to just sit and watch what other people are doing. Often on placement they will sit you with an experienced designer so you have always got someone to ask if you have any questions. It’s always helpful chatting with people who aren’t working on the same project as you can bounce ideas off one another.


JONATHAN MOUNT

Which company(s) did you do a placement with and how long for?

True North : 6 months

What’s the most important thing you learnt from your placement(s)?

The most important thing I learnt during placement was speed, deadlines were pretty tight so I had to work fast and generate ideas quickly.

How did you find accommodation and how much did it cost?

I opted to live in Manchester, flat sharing with Lucy, who was at TN at the same time and Angus, who was working a three month at The Chase.

What were you asked in the interview?

I spent the morning at True North which consisted of an interview with two of the design team, which was fairly informal, as well as a mini brief to see how I went on with idea generation.

What did you ask in the interview?

I asked about what was expected of me and what I would expect to see day in and day out, how the time would be structured and what sort of work they had upcoming.

Did you get paid and roughly how much?

I was paid £100 a week.

What was the most unusual thing you did?

The most unusual thing I did on placement was squating by the side of the canal holding my arm at a really weird and uncomfortable angle all whilst avoiding being in a shot of a paper flag I was holding up. And dodging ducks and not falling in.

What experience from your placement(s) are you going to put into practice, now you are back at university for your final year?

Working quicker and discarding ideas that don’t work straight away. You can labour a task for days and not really get much further so discarding and moving on is often the best option.

How important do you think a placement has been to helping further your design education?

As challenging as it is to work a placement, getting out there, getting seen, connecting and networking will really help both long and short term. Short term benefits are getting you working swiftly through your final year and in the long run, those industry contacts you meet up with will remember you when it comes time to head off in to the design world for real.

With hindsight, what advice would you give to a fellow student embarking on a placement?

Plan your placements. Have an idea of where you want to be and work. If you can, get to London. It may not be where you ultimately want to work but picking up a week or two or a month at a handful of agencies will give you a broader experience, one that I feel that I missed out on.


CAREY OLLERHEAD

Which company(s) did you do a placement with and how long for?

Urban Nu (formerly Decor Fusion) : 4 months

22 Group : 6 months

What’s the most important thing you learnt from your placement(s)?

I would say the most important thing I learnt was experiencing what it’s like in a working environment and learning the skills to prepare for final year and graduation.

How did you find accommodation and how much did it cost?

I live in Manchester, so I was able to live at home rent free. I’d pay around £120 a month at UN for bus and train fair, then only £14.50 a week for bus fair at 22.

What were you asked in the interview?

I was mostly asked to talk about my portfolio work in my interviews, a few asked about my experience with graphic design before uni and some other generic ‘get to know me’ questions.

What did you ask in the interview?

What I’m expected to do while working there, what kind of design jobs I’ll be able to work on.

Did you get paid and roughly how much?

I was given travel expenses at UN, and £100 a week at 22. Made me very excited to get a full time job with all that money.

What was the most unusual thing you did?

Probably making an animation of Uma Thurman and John Travolta dancing in Pulp Fiction.

What experience from your placement(s) are you going to put into practice, now you are back at university for your final year?

Working faster, throwing out as many ideas as possible and pushing them as far as they can go. It’s such a contrast how fast you can get a project done in the workplace than at uni.

How important do you think a placement has been to helping further your design education?

I have definitely grown more confident as a person. Before I wasn’t very confident in both my work and in a social sense. Being on placement has given me a better outlook on my design skills, and being complimented by creative directors is a massive boost to your ego. I feel more confident in what I can do as a designer now which is definitely going to help during final year.

With hindsight, what advise would you give to a fellow student embarking on a placement?

If you find yourself not being able to get a placement straight away, please don’t give up trying. Don’t be discouraged and just keep looking. It took me until October to finally land a placement. There’s always an opportunity out there, sometimes you just have to look a little longer to get it.

Oh, and learn how to make a decent brew before you start.


CHELSEA CULLY

Which company(s) did you do a placement with and how long for?

Lancashire Law School : 3 months

St Marks Magazine : Seasonal

Expert Computing : 1 month

Harry, Larry & Gary (HLG) : 8 Months

What’s the most important thing you learnt from your placement(s)?

It’s important to work fast and do a good bit of research before diving into a project. I think it’s also important to be social and get to know the agency you are working with as this makes the experience all the more enjoyable and has the added bonus of having a chance to network.

How did you find accommodation and how much did it cost?

Whilst on placement, I lived in Preston and this roughly cost about £300 a month.

What were you asked in the interview?

Each of my interviews were unique to the placements I attended but I was asked a lot about my portfolio, my favourite projects, what went well and what didn’t and how I could use my skills at each placement. I was also asked if I could make a good brew and a funny question I was asked once was, are you American?

What did you ask in the interview?

Again this depended on each interview but I tried to keep my questions unique to the agency that I intended to do my placement at. My first 3 placements were specific to one area so I had asked about their expectations of the brief and how they would like it be seen through. My last placement consisted of a variety of briefs so I asked about what they expected from me as a placement and also about a couple of their projects that I had liked.

Did you get paid and roughly how much?

I was fortunate to be paid for each of my placements.

Lancashire Law School : £7.50 per hour

Expert Computing : £7.50 per hour

St. Marks Magazine : £140 per magazine

Harry, Larry & Gary : £125 per week

What was the most unusual thing you did?

The most unusual thing that I did was wakeboarding on the River Mersey whilst on placement at Harry, Larry & Gary (HLG) in Liverpool.

What experience from your placement(s) are you going to put into practice, now you are back at university for your final year?

I am going to work faster and use what I have learned on placement to study briefs more carefully.

How important do you think a placement has been to helping further your design education?

This placement year has been an insightful opportunity to branch out and work with clients on live briefs. I have gained invaluable experience in project development and feel that this has also made me more confident in voicing my ideas and opinions.

With hindsight, what advise would you give to a fellow student embarking on a placement?

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help when you are working on different projects. The agencies you work with are keen to help and it’s important to allow yourself to make mistakes so that you can learn. Be pleasant, a good brew throughout the day is good for everyone. I would also say to try and save as much money as you can so that you can afford to go on different placements. As well as this, continually update your portfolio with your favourite projects from your placements.

For your interviews, when you ask questions try and make them unique to your interviewer. Don’t be generic and do your research before attending an interview. Most importantly, make sure that you enjoy your experience and are learning along the way.


Many thanks to all of our students for taking the time to share – TDOD.