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That first creative placement

3 min, 57 sec read
12:15 PM | 8 August 2014
by Joe Heston-Ellis
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So you’ve bagged yourself your first placement. Well done. Congratulations! Have a beer on me!

While you are probably rather proud of yourself there is no doubt a little bit of nervousness inside as you’re about to step foot into the real world of work where, possibly, you only have a week or two to impress.

So here are a few tips on what to expect and how to make best use of your placement.

Do your research

You know what the agency has done and what it has won, but make sure you also know the people who work there. Get on their website or LinkedIn and find out who’s who.

I had the joyful experience of asking someone what they did at the agency. They then informed me they were one of the founders.

Tip: Know who you’re talking to.

Listen to Will

As the words of Will Smith go "First one in, last one out the club". It should speak for itself; get in early and leave after everyone else.

As the first day of my first placement ended and everyone was leaving to go home, I offered to lock up as I wanted to stay late and finish the work. "Fuck off, and go home"  they told me. Stay late, but not that late!

You may find it helpful getting in early. While the agency is quiet, you can focus on getting some work done before the distractions arrive.

If you're looking to manage your creativity, a good book to read is "Manage your day-to-day: build your routine, find your focus & sharpen your creative mind" by Jocelyn K. Glei.

Tip: Be the first one in and last one out.


Whether you’re going into a big agency or a small agency, one of the first things you’ll probably want to do (and should do) is introduce yourself to everyone. This can be particularly difficult in larger agencies.

So take a note of what Bucks Ad School students Tom Carter and George Michael recently did when they interned at music and entertainment agency FRUKT. On their first day they left a mix tape on everyone’s desk. They’d done their research and very effectively introduced themselves to nearly 50 people without saying a word. Great job guys!

Tip: Let everyone know you have arrived.

Get out

Hopefully you’ll be on placement in a new area of town, somewhere you’ve never been. Explore the local area, take in some new inspiration. Take pictures, look at the people, visit an art gallery, sit in the local park, and talk to the locals. All this will help get your creative juices flowing.

I always ask where the best place is to get lunch. I love the little side street places and the street food on Chancery Lane is unbelievable!

Tip: Don’t confine yourself to the agency walls, get out and explore.

Fancy a brew?

Offer to make tea and coffee. Bring biscuits, cake and chocolate. It’s as Simple as that.

Tip: Offer to make tea at around 4:00pm, just long enough after lunch and just before "I need a beer" hits.

You’re there to learn

It’s going to be tough. And so it should be. The early starts and late finishes will start to take their toll by the end of the first week. But your seniors will recognise your hard work. The workload should feel slightly uncomfortable, a little bit more that you can handle, but this is how you're going to learn the most and make best use of the time your there.

If things do get too much however, just say so. Your placement is meant to work you hard but it’s also meant to be fun.

Don’t take it to seriously; your job is not on the line.

Tip: "If it was easy, every one would do it, it’s the hard that makes it great". Keep this is mind for when it gets really tough.


One of the highlights of your placement or internship will be going to the pub after work. It’s a great time to meet the people you haven’t yet spoken to.

Tip: Stay one drink behind everyone else. Avoid embarrassment. You can thank me later for this one.

Look important

When walking around the agency, make yourself look busy by holding a few pieces of paper and walk with a sense of purpose. People will wonder what you’re busy doing, but respect your seriousness.

Tip: Always look busy.

And of course…

Just be yourself.

How did your placement go? Are there any other tips you would give?

Joe Heston is coming up to his final year at New Bucks Ad School.

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