A placement is a great opportunity to secure yourself a job come graduation time. Do it right and you’ll leave a lasting impression on the studio. Make it hard for them to see you go.
You should be asking questions. Not only does it show you’re engaged with what’s happening, but inevitably there’ll be something the studio forgets to tell you. Go with a notepad and keep it with you, taking notes as you go. If the time isn’t right to ask questions, write them down, and ask away at the review at the end of your placement.
Make sure you’re turning up on time. If you’re regularly turning up late on a short placement, that doesn’t look great. Check how long it takes to get to the studio. Are you driving? Where can you park? Is it on a public transport route? The clever people at Google even let you estimate a journey based on specific times like rush hour, so there’s no excuse. If there really is an excuse then call up and explain!
Put the phone away, you’re here to learn and work, not scroll.
You’ve been set a task that’ll take a few hours to complete. Being the legend that you are, you’ve completed it ahead of time. The senior designer your shadowing is in a conference call. Do you
A. Proactively look for something to do, or
B. Sit back and have a scroll on the gram
Always choose A. Can you add something extra to what you’ve already done. Can it be improved? Is there anyone else close by that you could ask for more work? Would anyone like a drink? There are always going to be ways you can keep yourself busy if you’re waiting for further instruction. Use your initiative. Don’t piss about. Check out what makes a good junior designer here.
Design studios can be fun, engaging places. Typically they’re open plan, which can be a bit of a nightmare for tasks that require deep concentration. In this situation, some people will wear headphones to subtly say “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE, I’M TRYING TO CONCENTRATE”. Might be best to not interrupt that person.
Don’t forget that placements take a lot from a designers time, and it shows if you’re grateful for the information and teaching you’re receiving.
Go the extra mile. That doesn’t just mean with your design work. If you’re going out for your lunch, offer to pick up something for someone else if you see they’re too busy to get out. A lot of the time it’s the small things – just being a thoughtful person – that can make you stand out. It’s nice to hire nice people.
Design can be taught and improved on over the coming years. But if you’re a bit of a dick, you’re not going to last long.
The aim of the game is to leave that placement with them thinking, ‘Wasn’t it great when [Insert your name] was here?!’