Generally, the term “placement” refers to full-time work experience that takes place while a person is still at university. Many universities offer four year courses that require a placement to be taken as one of those years. Alternatively, students may take placements during the summer months. So essentially, a placement is the same as an internship. The same rules apply for both so please read our guide to internships for more information and advice.
In advertising and marketing, “creative placements” are the standard career path for creatives to take. Rather than applying for a job straight out of university, a creative will often have to take multiple placements at various agencies, building up their portfolio all the time, before being able to apply for permanent positions.
There are pros to this and some very obvious cons, but with the current state of the creative industries, it is practically a requirement if you want to be an advertising or marketing creative.
Landing a creative placement
Creative roles aren't often advertised. You have to go after them yourself. Get contacting agencies and creative people to ask for meetings, book crits and placements. Most agencies will offer them but they'll be very precious over who they take. And with thousands of creatives graduating each year, they can afford to be.
The first step will require putting together a portfolio if you don't already have one. Then you'll need to start going out and meeting creative directors for book crits in order to improve your portfolio to the point where it's good enough to get you a placement. Keep going back to the same people because building those relationships will pay off. Obviously the earlier you start this, the better. Read our portfolio guide for more information and advice on building a portfolio and going for book crits.