Placement experience: Digital Media Creative at Five by Five - Lilia Taneva
What is/was your placement role?
My role name is Digital Media Creative, part of the Digital Display team
How did you find your placement role?
I found the placement offer on the university’s placement platform, but it was also suggested to me by the Creative Careers team
Did you use our Creative Careers service? If so, how did Creative Careers support you in your placement search?
Yes I did! I had pretty regular conversations with them, both via email and Zoom. They gave me valuable advice, guided me with tips for specific companies or types of interviews and helped me immensely with shaping my CV and Cover Letter. They also sent me opportunities that they thought would fit me – this was after we had an initial conversation about my competences, my goals and my personal preferences.
Who do you work for?
The company is called Five by Five, part of the Lawton Communications Group, and the office I am in is based in Southampton, but they also have offices in London, LA and Sydney.
Tell us more about your role
What are the benefits of being on a placement?
I would say that the biggest benefit is actually getting to work in a creative position, without the feeling that it’s just another assignment – it’s a job, you’re using all those skills you gained in university or on your own and you’re also earning a salary for it. I feel like it gives a great sense of independence, but also satisfaction, since you are also meeting your creative needs.
The placement is also an amazing opportunity to gain experience, but not only on the technical side, as in learning new software, but also in the sense of seeing how the industry works on the inside, getting excited to be part of bigger projects and actively contributing to work that then goes out into the world. Again, it brings great satisfaction.
What are the best and worst things about being on placement?
The best things are the ones that I listed as benefits – getting a salary, while also doing creative work, feeling accomplished from the fact that your work goes out into the world and is actively being shown to people, learning new skills, etc. I would also add the ability to work from home, in my specific case.
The worst thing is probably the leap between a university schedule and a placement/work schedule. There’s no summer or winter break, no consolidation week, the workload is constant and pretty busy sometimes, so there’s no way to procrastinate it like a lot of us sometimes do in University (at least for a little bit) 😊.
Did you have any concerns about going on placement?
I did have a lot of concerns, actually – whether or not I should move to the city my placement is in, in order to not have to commute; I was afraid I would also lose the majority of my relationships in university, since most of them would continue on as students and I would have to be a full-time working person (even for a year); How well I would transition to a full-time work schedule so quickly after being used to the university one, and also after Covid.
But everything was solved eventually – the commute question didn’t really matter in the end, as I was given the option to work remotely at my own convenience, and it also turned out the commute was not expensive or time-consuming. I did choose to move, though, which I don’t regret, since I gives me new ground to explore, apart from Portsmouth. The situation with my relationships – it was rough at first, especially since I started in the summer, so not many people were even nearby, but as the year started I actually discovered that my friendships were better than ever – because now we have two cities where we can actively meet as locals, we travel easier together and we also discover a wider range of events. And as for the schedule – I just got used to it. It still annoying at times, but honestly once all the work comes in, the day just goes by.
How have your skills developed?
I have definitely learned new tricks with the software I was already using, my workflow has improved immensely. My skill to dynamically communicate with and work alongside other people has also strengthened because that is something I have to do constantly, in order to keep the workflow going. Overall, I would say that, due to this new perspective I've gained during the internship, I have strengthened both my soft and hard skills and have also found new ways to improve myself further down the line
Is there anything you’ve learnt/done on your course that you’ve used/applied on your placement?
Yes! Obviously, a lot of the tech stuff – the software, the workflow – basically everything that gets you through a project, also applies to real work. The difference is that while on placement, you start building on those skills within a specific environment, not just for individual projects.
Another thing that I’ve used is the way of communicating – teamwork is basically a group project, the only difference being that instead of some group mates disappearing after the brief, everyone is actually doing their job, which really rallies one up to climb to their colleague’s skill level and dedication.
What are the highlights and challenges you’ve faced so far on your placement?
As far as challenges go – I’d say getting used to the work environment and getting to know people within a work environment.
And the highlights – definitely working with companies, whose content I already really like. I have contributed to projects connected to some very popular names in the games industry such as Call of Duty and Diablo, and recently even more, which I’m still not sure if I can disclose haha.
Have you received any commendations or awards during your placement?
Not yet, seeing as I am not even a fourth of the way in. What I could count as commendations, though, would be being congratulated for completing a project within a very tight time frame – and I have had a couple of those.
Has your placement experience helped you decide on your future career plans?
I would say so. Again, I am only 3 months in, but it has definitely put into perspective how different aspects of my career path can look like. It has also made me realise some of the things I can and cannot compromise on for my future career and also some things that I will definitely be looking for.
What advice would you give to students considering a placement?
Finding the “perfect” placement should not be your concern. Of course, find one that you think you like and don’t compromise on the aspects that are most important to you – but also leave room for improvisation or changes. Expand your horizons and requirements. Focus on what you want to learn, how the things you learn can be useful to you, how you would feel in specific work environments. And absolutely be yourself in interviews – which doesn’t mean don’t keep a professional tone, no – it means present your accomplishments, the things you are proud of and have put effort in. Show them your best self. And don’t be discouraged if they don’t choose you – review the way you present yourself, reassess your situation and potentially make improvements, and if you’ve deemed that you’re happy with all that – then that just means your and their requirements did not align, so it’s probably for the best for both parties that you were given the freedom to move on 😊 I don’t want to sound preachy while saying this, by the way. It’s just the mindset that got me through the placement search and didn’t let me get completely discouraged, so hopefully it will work for other people too.