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artsDesign and Media placementsinternships and project advice
10:12am 11 Nov 2021

Arts, Design and Media placements, internships and project advice

A placement, internship or project can be a great way to gain experience and skills in an area you are particularly interested in, build a network of industry contacts and potentially gain future employment in that sector.

With graduate numbers continuing to rise each year, having a good degree is no longer enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Employers value work experience highly, particularly experience that is relevant to the role they are recruiting for. Having experience can make a huge difference to your applications, so the earlier you start and the more you can do, the better your CV will look!

Take a look at our videos and written information below to get you started with a placement search.

Types of Placements

As a student in the Arts, Design and Media faculty, you might have the option to undertake a placement as part of your degree. Some courses include Work Placements (where you undertake a few days of experience for one of your modules), or you might be eligible for a Professional Placement for 12 months (undergraduate courses) or 6 months (post graduate courses. Speak to your personal tutor to find out what placement modules are available for you to choose as part of your course. You can access support from the module tutor and the Careers+ team in securing a placement for your course.

You can also undertake placements and internships separately from your degree. This could be during the summer, winter or spring holidays or for a few hours per week when you aren’t in lectures. You can still get support from the Careers+ team in sourcing and securing these.

Placement vs Internship – what’s the difference?

A placement and an internship are the essentially same thing, although internships can last longer than placements. They are both periods of work experience offered to students or recent graduates on a temporary basis for a defined number of weeks or months. Sometimes they are paid, sometimes they are unpaid and they can be full time or part time. In a placement or internship you would be working in a role where it is expected that you will be learning on the job and won’t come with a wealth of knowledge and expertise that more experienced employees will have.

Advertised Placements and Internships

You will find some companies advertise placements and internships either on an ad-hoc basis or regularly each year. You will need to be proactive at regularly checking job sites and careers pages on companies’ websites. To get started, take a look at our list of sector specific job sites.

 Hidden Placements and Internships

In creative industries, many placement and internship opportunities will be ‘hidden’ which means they aren’t openly advertised for all to see. This is usually because they only come in existence once someone suggests them. You can approach companies to ask if you can undertake a placement with them and negotiate the terms of the placement with them yourself. This is called a speculative application. Do some research into companies exist within your sector and go ahead and call or email them to enquire. You might be able to get names of people to contact by using your existing network, or social media sites such as LinkedIn. Have your CV and cover letter ready before you do this, and book an appointment with an Employability Adviser in Careers+ to discuss your strategy before you begin.

Find out more information on marketing yourself and networking.


You will need to have your CV and cover letter ready before you start making applications. You will also find that you need to amend your CV and cover letter for each placement you apply for so that it is tailored to the role and company. If your initial application is successful, you will be invited for an interview. This could be formal or informal and might be in person, by phone or using video conferencing.

Find out more information on CVs and Cover Letters.

Find out more information on interviews.

For help with your CV and cover letter, or preparing for an interview book an appointment with an Employability Adviser in Careers+.

Following Up

It’s ok to chase up someone you have contacted if you don’t hear back from them. Wait a week or two after the closing date for an advertised placement or a week or two after you contacted them for a speculative application. When you get in touch, be polite and professional and perhaps use a different method then you used the first time you contacted them (phone/email/social media). If you don’t hear anything after a couple of attempts, it unlikely they will get back to you so focus on contacting other companies. Remember, it’s not personal if companies don’t get back to you, it’s likely that they have other priorities and aren’t able to accommodate you.

Making the Most of a Placement

Before you start your placement, set yourself some goals for what you want to achieve during your placement. This could be tasks you want to carry out, skills you want to use, colleagues you want to observe or speak to and knowledge you want to gain. It will help to discuss your ideas with your manager before you start your placement or on your first day. If you haven’t already, do some research into the company – find out who their clients and customers are, what projects they are working on, what values they adhere to through their work and their position within the sector. Also check with your manager what the dress code is before your first day.

During your placement, be prepared to work hard and get involved with as much as you can and make yourself valuable to the team. There might be some small changes to ways of working you can suggest or creative ideas you can put forward. Make an effort to speak to your colleagues to understand more about their job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something and seek feedback from your manager to understand how you are progressing. You might like to keep a journal of your experience to help with reflecting on what you learnt after the placement.

After the placement, stay in touch with your colleagues and supervisor. Perhaps send a follow up email thanking them for the placement and add them on LinkedIn or follow them on social media platforms they use professionally. Also take some time to reflect on your experience – think about what you enjoyed, wat you did well at and skills you used. This will help in deciding what step to take next in developing your career. You might like to book an appointment with a Careers Consultant in the Careers+ team to reflect on your placement experience.

 Careers+ Placement Support

The Arts Design and Media Careers+ team has a designated Employability Adviser to support you with your placement search. You can book an appointment with us or submit a question. You can also email us at , call us on 0121 331 7678 or drop in and see us in Parkside 054 (next to reception in the Parkside atrium on the ground floor).

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