Placements are brilliant opportunities for students and studios. Students get a valuable taste of studio life and studios get the benefit
of fresh talent and insights from young blood. Done right, those are the gains. But if things don’t go quite to plan, they can end in regret, ill-considered blog posts and both parties vowing ‘never again’.
Maybe you don’t feel confident enough in your experience or your work. That’s natural, but don’t let it hold you back. As a student, I didn’t have much confidence in myself or my work, and wasn’t really pushed by my tutors to experience the realities of studio life. Which was entirely my loss. So this is me urging you to sort out all the placements you can manage. Whether you do them in great agencies or awful agencies, they’re an essential part of your growth as a creative. Even the terrible experiences will build your character and your portfolio.
It may be easier than you think to get your foot in the door. Nailing the basics is the first step, but so many applicants get this wrong. Don’t send us 100MB pdfs that clog up our email server; don’t address enquiries to ‘Dear sir or madam’ (it’s not hard to find out the recipient’s name); and please don’t send an email, cc-ing thirty other design studios. All these slip-ups are very easily avoided. A handwritten envelope with a thoughtfully written – and spellchecked – letter, well laid-out work samples, or just an email where the sender has bothered to find out my name and who I am – these details all go a very long way.
Then, once you’re in, ask questions, offer to help. Get involved in as many projects as you can. Remember, it’s up to you to shine. Try and make yourself indispensable. Please don’t come in and sit in silence for two weeks. We’re usually busy people but we’ll always make time for someone with a bit of passion. And a quick word on confidentiality – if you’re working on real jobs for real clients, it’s very important you respect this and any confidentiality agreement in place. Always check first before you make public any work you’ve done. Also remember that the design world is a small world. Everybody knows everybody else, so be mindful that what you say about your time at a particular agency will probably get back to them.
In short, be respectful, be humble, do some ace work, think about the details and you might just find that that placement turns into a full–time arrangement. Or, at the very least, a worthwhile and enjoyable experience for you and the studio.
Chris Jackson - Creative Director & Founder
The Common Room