The benefits of a graduate placement

Lizzie Rimmer joined our team as part of a graduate placement organised in conjunction with Nottingham Trent University. What began as a 12 week placement, extended to almost five months! And we've loved having Lizzie with us every minute.

We’ve already highlighted the huge benefits afforded to businesses running student and graduate placements in our latest industry report, which you can read in more detail here. Read on to find out more about the benefits to students and graduates themselves.

A Fine Art graduate, Lizzie began her placement in our studio, not just shadowing but actively taking part in briefings, developing concepts and artworking across a wide range of projects. She then transferred to our marketing team to round off her placement, to learn marketing communication and project management skills. It’s Lizzie’s last week now, and she’s kindly shared her thoughts on her whole experience.

Lizzie Rimmer student placement Michon
Lizzie Rimmer student placement Michon

What were you most looking forward to before your placement?

I was delighted to be partnered with Michon for my Graduate Internship. Recognising such familiar clients in their portfolio of work, I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to work alongside all of the creative minds within the business. Coming from a degree in Fine Art, I was nervous about joining the agency. This opportunity would be the start of my Graphic Design journey. I was looking forward to facing a new challenge and I was enthusiastic about having a chance to work closely with the individual designers. I knew this would allow me to train in skills which are vital for the job role of a designer that can only be taught in real-world situations. I was intrigued to see the whole process from day to day. Getting to see how the marketing team manage their clients and learning how designers approach their briefs, ultimately, I was interested in how my skills would be tested in this environment; pressured with looming deadlines.

What were your first impressions of Michon, the studio, the marketing team?

Michon is based in a beautiful, refurbished school with a refreshing and open atmosphere. I couldn’t wait to start! The instant support I gained from everyone when I first arrived felt enormously welcoming. Designers who sat near me in studio were eager to share their opinions on their personal experiences, which gave me great insights into the industry. Sharing their own understandings of techniques helped me to tackle the briefs I was working on. The marketing team were equally as friendly, kind and patient with me. They gave me a range of activities to work on straight away so that I could understand the variety of jobs they encounter. From the very beginning, I loved the community feel of the agency and how they immediately involved me, like I was one of their own.

What type of projects did you get to work on and how did you find them?

Throughout my time at Michon, I have been part of a diverse range of projects which have opened my eyes to photoshoots and film shoots, 3D design, advertisements, environments and branding jobs. Environments were something I wasn’t aware of before starting. Being involved with the initial surveying of the building and creating the moodboard for the interiors was fascinating for me. As this huge refurbishment unfolded throughout my time in the company, I managed to see the long awaited final install. Some of the live projects have tested me particularly in regard to restrictions from the client. I’ve learnt that constraints are a very important aspect of the decision-making process within design. When rebranding a small charity, I had to think about the funding challenges a charity faces and how this would affect certain advertising stages. I also worked on a local charity’s music festival’s branding and design. It was great to see this project right through from start to finish from initially meeting the clients and discussing ideas, to seeing the banners and posters advertised around the village. This was very rewarding. When working on the marketing side of the agency, I worked on site recces, film shoots and marketing solutions for clients. We worked on a case study film which meant I visited their site three times including recceing, filming supporting shots and for the interviews. Accompanying the Art Director and Project Manager on the shoot taught me how to smoothly run a project in these time pressured situations. The effort that goes in to the organisation and planning for a shoot is enormous. A slight change in weather can totally change the strategy all together. I found these experiences very enjoyable. When working on any project, I have realised that the ultimate priority is checking back on the objectives in the brief to stay on track.

What did you learn about the processes/structure of a working design agency?

From starting my internship at Michon, I was delighted to have been offered a two month extension on the design side of the agency to broaden my knowledge. This gave me the opportunity to learn even more about the processes undertaken by the design agency. From a designer’s point of view, I have learned to manage my time well, to work quickly and to be super organised. For myself, I have realised the importance of checking my work thoroughly for mistakes before sending the work to the client… being precise saves time. I was later offered a further extension to spend time in, and become involved in, the marketing side of the agency. This resulted in me learning a brand new skill in marketing but mainly resulted in me getting to grips with the end-to-end process of how the agency works. On the marketing side, I have learned that communication is key: with the designers, the clients and your team and I have also found out about how to structure briefs and budgets. Most importantly, I understand how to act professionally around clients in all sorts of situations.

Did you learn any new techniques/hone any skills during your time at Michon?

Coming from a Fine Art background, a lot of the detailed shortcuts on the software were new to me. I learned quickly by working closely with Trevor (Senior Art Director) on all my projects. This helped me to understand the fast pace of the studio. I was introduced to a programme called Cinema 4D. Dan (Senior Designer) helped me understand how Michon uses the programme for their projects. He also helped me with any questions I had when developing my skills in the programme. I felt passionate about learning this new programme as I knew how useful it would be for the future.

Do you have any thoughts on the importance of industry experience during/after university?

After finishing university with no experience in the industry, I have found that I have grown immensely with the support of the people at Michon. I have come out of this opportunity with five months of experience, in all areas of the company. I think it is extremely important to get university students working with creative agencies to prepare them for when they graduate. I am so lucky to have been given the chance to expand my awareness in a company like Michon. I’ve enjoyed seeing the projects unfold and I’ve developed the essential knowledge a creative agency can give you, further building on my university education.