What makes Creative Academy graduates so employable?
An international CEO reveals which skills and qualities give students of the Creative Academy the edge over other candidates.
Just how job-ready are students from the Creative Academy? If the experience of multinational design agency Longbeard is anything to go by, the answer is ‘extremely’. Since 2017, Longbeard founder and CEO Matthew Sanders has hired multiple Creative Academy students as interns, and eventually as employees. But how did an agency headquartered in Rome end up with interns in Cape Town?
Hot spot for design
As Matthew tells it, Longbeard was looking to expand globally and he needed talent in a similar time zone. “Someone said that I should try Cape Town for good design, and so we did our homework and researched where the top design schools were. The Creative Academy was recommended to us as one of the best,” he says.
In 2017 Longbeard took on its first intern from the Creative Academy. Before long, Matthew had appointed a further four Academy students as interns. “It caused a bit of controversy in the company as we had hired them all from one school and were therefore putting all our eggs in one basket, so to speak, but I was just so impressed with their interviews.”
On-point practical skills
“One of the things we always look for when we hire people is how much time we are going to invest to get them to the point where they can integrate seamlessly into our workflows,” Matthew explains. “The students of the Creative Academy had a much lower ramp-up period, and a lot of that has to do with the training and the education they received. Their theoretical knowledge and practical skill sets were really good and on point.”
“The way they worked with each other and integrated with the rest of the team was really exceptional,” he says.
It wasn’t just remarkable mouse skills and ability to collaborate that won the Longbeard crew over. “Another thing I love about the designers we’ve hired here is their work ethic,” reveals Matthew. “It really has set them apart from a lot of other designers we’ve had over the years. I am not sure how to describe it, but their attitude, their intelligence and experience made them exceptional.”
Where talent meets hard work
Gustav Vermeulen, senior lecturer at the Creative Academy, is delighted with Matthew’s assessment. “From the beginning we put a lot of emphasis on students taking responsibility for themselves, whether attending class or handing in assignments on time. It’s all geared towards getting students into a responsible mind space.
“Then there’s the industry exposure our students get. Our part-time lecturers are active in the industry and our external evaluators are drawn from agencies. Once a week we have an industry talk, where professionals share their real-life challenges and successes. This way students know what to expect when they head out into the world,” explains Gustav.
The Creative Academy’s small class sizes and individual attention mean that students are technically and creatively adept by the time they take on internships. This first encounter with the working world can be daunting, but it’s a vital stage for personal growth. “They get such a confidence boost when they complete their internships and realise they’re equipped with all the right skills,” he says.
The ability to thrive in the working world is what the Creative Academy instills in students and Matthew Sanders’s experience bears it out. The fact that Longbeard hired five students from one academic year at the end of their internship is proof that our industry-guided approach works.