IT'S NOT ALL BREWS: placement life in a marketing agency

10th January, 2016

When thinking of content for Alchemy agency’s new blog, I thought it would be best to write about what I know – granted much more now than I did when I started! However, I thought this would be a great opportunity to give insight in to what it’s like being a student on work placement.

Firstly, let me introduce myself… I’m Andrew – a Graphic Design student at the University of Huddersfield. I’m currently on placement as a Designer at Alchemy agency, Leeds, learning all about customer engagement.


Since starting the course, it was always my intention to get a placement. Although I have general work experience, this was my first opportunity to put into practice my passion of design within a working environment. I feel that this is essential before graduating as it gives you a taste for working life, without the harsh realities – i.e. TAX! Also, I am now more likely to find a job after graduating with a year in industry under my belt.


What I didn’t anticipate is how difficult it was to get a placement. I was totally oblivious and naïve to think that it was going to be easy. Although University helps you in the early stages, e.g. writing a CV and cover letter, you’ve got to do the bulk of it yourself.

Looking back, I am glad this was the case. If I were spoon-fed into a job, I wouldn’t have conquered my fear of talking on the phone, and practising my email writing skills when contacting agencies. (I still avoid the phone at work).


I remember my first day in a marketing agency; it was a little scary and overwhelming, but I was instantly made to feel at ease. And yes, it isn’t all tea making! Within my first week I was offered more brews than I would drink in a month!

I thought the transition from student life to working life would be difficult. Granted, I do miss the mid-day naps, but other than that, the transition came naturally to me. The biggest difference was the process. At uni, I work alone, but at Alchemy, I’m assigned multiple briefs and often work with a Copywriter, Creative or Art Director. This eases the pressure, and provides reassurance.

In 5 months or so, my placement at Alchemy will be complete and I will return to university with: a stronger set of skills, an expanded knowledge of creative software (thanks James), more confidence and a different attitude to work.


For any students that are thinking of taking on a placement with any local marketing agencies (and you should), I’d like to give you my top tips learnt on the job.


Although working, you are still a student and are there to learn. Ask questions which you think will enhance your practice.


Just because you’re there as a Designer or Creative, doesn’t mean you can’t show interest in other people’s roles. Talking to Client Services, Developers, Copywriters etc. can be hugely beneficial.


You won’t be there forever, so get involved as much as you can. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at a PR outfit, a direct marketing agency, an integrated marketing agency or a design studio, you cannot help but learn. And whether this is through taking briefs, joining social gang, attending meetings or brainstorm sessions, it’s an invaluable experience. Even if you don’t chip in all the time – listen and make notes – they could come in handy later.

Me? I’m lucky, out of all the Yorkshire marketing agencies I could have ended up at, I couldn’t have chosen better.

Thanks for reading,


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