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Creative Placements and How to Find Them

Beth Watson Study

In the creative industry, placements are everything. From the moment you embark on your degree, you’ll be told countless times to add some valuable work experience to your CV if you want any chance of securing your dream job.

It sounds harsh, but in reality the creative industry is highly competitive so anybody with an edge stands a much better chance of being successful. When I began my fashion course, I had almost no experience to speak of, but will be graduating this year with plenty of work placements under my belt. Read on to hear my story and top tips for finding your perfect placement!

As a first year and newbie into the world of placements, I was nervous to make the transition from student to employee, so my first job involved working from home for a small London-based fashion company. After spending a while searching for the perfect role, I came across a job as a social media intern on Fashion Workie, a website I have used many times since as it’s always jam-packed with amazing placements in everything from graphic design to pattern cutting and marketing. At a glance, the job seemed perfect, as the hours wouldn’t interfere with my degree and I needn’t worry about finding somewhere to stay whilst I worked so I applied straight away.

Article _Creative -Placements _In Page 350I interviewed over Skype and got the placement, which lasted for three months. Over that time, I made some fantastic connections, got a feel for social media, learnt how to behave professionally and managed my own time. For me, working from home was the best way to make my entrance into the industry and it gave me the confidence to go forward with more demanding placements in the future. I would definitely recommend it to somebody in a similar position.

With my social media experience and new-found confidence in hand, I went on the lookout for my next placement at the beginning of second year. Again, I found this placement on Fashion Workie, but this time it was a big step up. The role I was applying for was as showroom intern at a designer fashion brand and it would involve working in Paris for almost a month. I did tonnes of research, interviewed on the telephone and got the job. A few weeks later, I flew out to Paris to my rented studio apartment and worked harder than I have ever worked before – I wasn’t going to come all of this way to do nothing!

Whilst this was a highly demanding experience, I learnt so much along the way. From meeting high profile clients, to experiencing some of Paris Fashion Week and appreciating the organisation and effort that goes into a showroom, I left Paris much more prepared for the world of work. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend that everybody jets off to Paris to work, I would say that its great to challenge yourself and to build on a range of different skills when looking for placements so that you become a well-rounded employee.

The third placement I was lucky to work on came through the university. At Northumbria, and particularly in the fashion department, tutors are constantly emailing over new opportunities that they think could be of interest. My class had been given a seminar by a start-up fashion app when my tutor emailed us an opportunity to work with them as a student ambassador, promoting the app to students whilst competing against fellow ambassadors to win prizes. This sounded ideal, as I had previously worked with social media but was looking for a crossover into PR and marketing, as this was an area I was interested in.

I applied and got the job, working on some exciting campaigns that appealed to new students and even won one of the challenges, bagging two tickets to a London Fashion Week show. If it wasn’t for my tutor, I would never have known about this amazing opportunity, so it’s always useful to keep your eye out for important emails and to be up for trying something new and different.

By this point, in the summer before my final year and with tonnes of new skills and experience behind me, I was ready to find my dream placement. As you go through university, you develop your own working style and along with that a sense of where you might like to work upon graduating. I had been longing to work with a particular London-based PR agency for a while after basing part of a project on their brand, so I did some research online, and managed to find some contact details for a manager. I sent over an email to express my interest in a placement, along with my cover letter and CV and was invited to an interview at their office.

The interview went well, and I got the job, returning later in the year for a two-month placement. This involved finding accommodation in London, funding myself whilst I was there, and living independently, which was all very tough but definitely worth it. I would say I learnt the most during this time - about how an agency works, what is expected of you as an employee, how to conduct yourself professionally and how to work in PR, most importantly! Given my experience, I would always encourage anybody to scout out their own placement with their dream company, even if you think there’s little chance of it working out.

My final placement again came through the university, after my class worked on a live project with a well-known footwear brand and a local PR and marketing agency. Our task was to create an exciting new campaign for the footwear brand, that would be presented and pitched to the local agency, who would choose one student for a short placement. I put my all into my project and was selected as the winner, starting my placement in the first term of my final year

This placement was fantastic, as I was able to connect with local professionals, which has opened so many doors for me during my final year projects and could even lead to future job opportunities. Students at Northumbria are lucky because the university sets up as many live projects as possible, providing amazing opportunities that wouldn’t be available elsewhere.

If you’re interested in finding your own placement, my top tips are…

  1. Look out for opportunities shared by the university
  2. Scour creative placement sites like Fashion Workie, Fashion United, Intern Wardrobe, Student Job and Milkround
  3. Look for the contact details for your dream company and get in touch
  4. Find placements that build on different skills to make yourself a well-rounded employee
  5. Be prepared to work hard and challenge yourself

Drawing on personal experience, I would say that my placements have all shaped me as a creative professional, giving me skills that can’t be taught in the university, making my CV stand out and providing amazing connections that could be useful for years to come. 

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