Final year BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student, Kate Wells completed an optional work placement at WPP Company Cohn & Wolfe, as a digital designer. She answered a few questions for us about the practicalities and benefits of her time on placement.
Where did you complete your placement and for how long?
I did a placement at WPP Company Cohn & Wolfe as a digital designer. It's a global communications agency and I was working in the London office for 10 weeks over summer.
How did you feel on your first day and what did you do to prepare?
On the first day I felt clueless and completely out of my depth. I felt like I had no clue how anything worked and like I had so much to learn. I made sure that I had a notebook with me and wrote everything down. I wrote people's names, how to print, who to ask about what etc. There was a lot to take in so I listened more than I spoke and made a note of everything, just so I would have a chance at knowing how to handle anything that came my way. I asked lots of questions and constantly reminded myself that no one's expecting me to know everything (or anything!) and that this is merely an experience so don’t take it too seriously – I wanted to enjoy it!
What responsibilities did you have and what experience did it give you?
I was working as part of a team so they started giving me small jobs such as creating social content for their social media channels and making mood boards to find out my ability as a designer. As their confidence grew in me, I began doing more and more important work for clients. By the end of the 10 weeks I was working for massive brands and dealing directly with clients. It was an incredible experience to work with big brands and to experience how an agency works.
How important do you think it is for students to do a placement while studying for a degree?
I think it's the most important thing you can do whilst studying for your degree. Not only does it look great to employers, but it also gives you a much-needed confidence boost. It's almost like a practice run before you actually go to your first job. It's an opportunity to be in industry, but people don’t expect you to know what you're doing, so it's much less pressure. Its incredible how quickly you learn and most importantly it gives you an opportunity to test out what sort of environment you want to commit to after university. For example, by taking this placement I also learnt if I want to work in a big or small agency, if I want to live in London, and what job role within the agency I want to work towards etc.
What top tips would you give to other students who are thinking of undertaking a placement?
Go for it! Be brave, enjoy it. Avoid unpaid internships – there are plenty of companies who will value your work and want to pay you for it.