I managed to get myself a one week payed work placement at Elmwood in Leeds, one of 'the worlds most effective brand design consultancies'. 

My cousin Lee is the Creative Services Manager at the Leeds studio, so I managed to get the placement through him. I did feel as though I had cheated slightly but it just goes to show its not what you know but who you know. 

Although I had looked into the company  I had not fully acknowledged actually how big and successful it actually was.

My first impressions of the placement were not overly positive. I was expecting much more of a reception from the team, but have now come to realise the studio is very big and they have a new intern in every week, so that was never going to happen unless I was to turn up naked  or something. The first couple of days were not good as I was spoken to by about 3 people at the most and wasn't entirely sure what it was that I was supposed to be doing; I think there had been a lack of communication somewhere. 

The last 3 days were much more enjoyable as I was finally briefed about what I was working on, was being acknowledged by more of the team, and made good friends with another guy who was also doing a placement. It felt amazing to be doing real work for big clients, and it was also really satisfying to know that I was being trusted to do this. 

The first thing I worked on involved following very strict brand guidelines to create a series of designs to be used for printed ephemera. The work was very corporate which is something I am not really used to doing or enjoy but it was a good learning experience as in a job I am not going to be able to pick and choose the work I do. It was also good for me to work with guidelines I had not created myself as again I think this is going to be a common occurrence in a real job situation. 

I also got to sit through some presentations from some animation companies that had come in, and it was really nice to know they weren't much better at presenting than me. 

The week came to an end and I was sad to be leaving, mainly as I had only just got comfortable there. I hinted to one of the designers I was working beside that I wanted to stay, and seeming pretty enthusiastic about me staying too, he went and asked and I managed to get another week. 

I felt much more involved the second week as I was taking part in crits with the design directors and marketing team, working on new projects and being left alone to manage big pitch presentations. Admittedly they weren't the sort of briefs that would really interest me normally, but it was still good to be involved. There were also 2 afternoon parties; one celebrating their 20 year anniversary and the other celebrating one of the directors getting a place on the D&AD board, which was nice because it meant that I could talk a bit more to other people. And drink champaign at work. 

Sadly on the last day I woke up with a twisted neck. Not sure what I had done but I literally couldn't move and could not go in. This was extremely annoying as it meant that I would have to leave without saying bye to anybody, or getting a chance for them to look through my portfolio. I rang the receptionist who I had made friends with, and accusing me of being hungover told me to send her an email and she would send it round to everyone:

"Hi Guys, 

Just want to say a massive thank you for having me, really enjoyed my time working for you and really glad I managed to get a second week in. Sorry I couldn't make the last day, i'm pretty annoyed, I have a really bad neck and can barely move - maybe i'm not used to sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day!

Thanks again, really appreciate it and would love to come back in the future if you would have me. Its been really interesting seeing how the company works and especially being involved in it all. 
Hope to see you all soon

Will Jeffrey"

Thankfully I did get a reply from somebody, and it was one of the design directors:

"Hi Will

Sorry to hear you hurt your neck and didn’t make it in on your last day to say bye. Just thought Id drop you a note to say thank you for your time and especially the work on *****.  You did great well executed work. I was also very impressed with your attitude towards the work load, you took direction well and really helped us with the presentation which looked great.

Im sure we can find a place for you if you want to come back in the future for some more work ex.

Good look with your course.



Martyn Hayes
Senior Design Director
D +44 113 318 4208 M +44 7912 124852
Skype martyn_elmwood

105 Water Lane, Leeds, LS11 5WD, England
T +44 113 318 4500 F +44 113 242 5830


This really made my day and i'm very thankful that he replied. 

Reflecting back on the experience, I'm not so sure if it is somewhere I would like to work in the future. Although I really enjoyed myself, I loved the studio space, I admire much of the work they have done and would be happy to call everyone their my colleagues, I have a lot of negativity towards the FMCG industry, and with this as their main client base, I feel as though I would have to spend most of my time doing things I don't agree with or like. I also have a lot of negativity towards marketing and admin departments, and the fact that I was being told what to do by a member of the marketing team a lot of the time, as nice as she was, it put me off. I think I want to work somewhere with a bit more creative freedom. 

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