I've just read an advertisement for placement opportunities at a new magazine here in London. Yes, they are offering work experience for brilliant design students, generously helping them to gain knowledge of the publishing field by getting hands-on into magazine design.
The truth is unfortunately far-removed...
Having been interviewed by this same magazine a few months back, I know that they are actually understaffed & overworked, and it seems they are not willing to pay a second designer to join their permanent team. The answer is simple, it being a solution devised by many employers to exploit the endless new crops of unemployed and desperate designers: cheap labour under the appellation of 'Placement' ("Travel Expenses Paid" -- wow.)
They had almost given me the job, but resorted to someone who already had experience in magazine design (which I still hadn't at a time before D&C). I had sensed that the magazine would not be able to cope with just one designer, and I hoped that they would eventually contact me to join their team: a logical development for the escalating growth of their new publication. But they have resorted to slavery, and I see myself denied a job.
Maybe placements become a pool for recruitment, and could eventually lead to a permanent position, if one shows merit. But that is very rarely the case, seeing that designers hop from one placement to another after graduation, in a series of unpaid CV-building intern positions.
I count myself lucky to have had a callback as freelancer after D&C, but that was my 3rd placement, and I've got a 4th one in December. Yup, there even are waiting lists for design slavery.