Are virtual placements the future for grads?

CR explores whether remote internships and placements could become the new norm for grads, and how agencies could make it work

After months of lockdown, no final degree show, and no ceremony, School of Communication Arts graduates Ellie Daghlian and Elisa Czerwenka found that they’d graduated into a strange new world.

Amidst news of agencies making redundancies and studios unable to bring in new hires, the pair decided they had to do something to launch themselves into the creative industry. So they set up The Creative Rally as a virtual tour of agencies around the world, with the aim of landing a remote placement in every continent in the space of two weeks. By the end of it, the pair had hit their goal, having spent a day working remotely for nine different companies, including Advantage Namibia, Penguin Watch Antarctica, Saatchi & Saatchi Japan, and Grey London.

“We were about to finish SCA, and we were getting to the stage where normally we’d start to talk about internships, but a lot of people said they liked our book, but weren’t taking anyone until 2021,” says Czerwenka, of their decision to set up the programme. “We had a chat and asked what we could do to get a job, but also stand out and learn something while being in lockdown and not knowing what comes next. It felt like it was completely out of our control, and we wanted to get a bit of control back.”

Seeing a landscape of briefs from all over the world, and really high quality briefs, was great

More than that, says Daghlian, the pair wanted to explore working with agencies outside of the UK, and experience different cultures – even if it was via Zoom. To land each of their day-long placements the duo hit up social media. This meant a lot of time on LinkedIn, researching people in various agencies around the world, as well as putting the word out on Twitter. And although Daghlian and Czerwenka went into the process with no particular expectations, they say the response was hugely encouraging.

According to them, not only were agencies keen to take part in The Creative Rally, they were happy to put the pair in touch with others that might be able to help. And although the duo only had a day with each company, they were being given real life briefs to work on – with some of their ideas potentially being used in actual campaigns further down the line. “Seeing a landscape of briefs from all over the world, and really high quality briefs, was great,” says Czerwenka.