toucan team

Toucan Academy

The Toucan Academy is a business-led initiative to invest in the next generation of creative designers and digital developers. In our Exeter studios we provide opportunities in collaboration with other companies and organisations for the brightest local graduates to flourish at the start of their professional careers. Our goal is to increase the employment and career prospects of today’s young creatives and equip the South West with the skilled people it needs as part of a successful economy.

As an award-winning design, web and digital agency with studios in Devon and Cornwall, we are committed to developing creative graduates from the South West of England as both a business and social imperative. We aim to play a role in transforming the fortunes of young people setting out on their professional careers and encouraging other businesses to participate in the enterprise. We are establishing business partnerships with progressive organisations across the region in order to offer a variety of projects to provide our young people with the opportunities to learn new skills and build a strong career. If the South West’s economy is to grow, business leaders and employers from across all sectors must meet that challenge head on with sustained, concerted effort. With every additional organisation who gets involved in the Toucan Academy, we take another step forward in making lifetime skills – and a strong economy – a reality for our young people and help to build the workforce of the future.

Academy Partnerships

We are building a network of forward-thinking public, private and third sector organisations from across the South West as part of the Toucan Academy. They champion the next generation of our creative graduates and benefit from a fresh perspective on a variety of cost-effective design and digital projects. Participating organisations out-source some or all of their design and digital work to our mentored young Academy graduates on the commercially-viable graduate placement scheme run by us at Toucan. We are extremely well placed to support the transition from university to a commercial career. Toucan is an award-winning creative agency formed in 2000 with expertise in all areas of creative design for print and web, branding, web development, digital marketing, social media and mobile apps. In addition, two of our directors successfully combine commercial design practice with teaching roles at a number of the region’s leading universities; both are hugely experienced professional design consultants and qualified lecturers.

The business benefits include:

• Corporate Social Responsibility – the opportunity to showcase corporate responsibility by supporting investment in new graduates and supporting the South West’s economy through the development of talents and skills

• Creativity, innovation & fresh thinking – an injection of new ideas and energy from the brightest talent supported by an experienced and well-established team of professionals

• Cost savings – cost benefits derived from graduates being paid a salary commensurate with being at the start of their professional careers


Graduate Internship Programme

The Toucan Academy offers paid internships for those entering the creative design sector and the digital development arena to design and digital graduates from across the South West region. 6 or 12 month placements are typical, and are full time studio-based positions. Additionally interns work closely within our own networks – our clients, our affiliated professional organisations and our social networks – so that they leave Toucan with a rounded view of the world they have chosen to occupy and lots of background and experience to include on their CV.

A design intern’s day is spent with the creative team, working under the direction of senior designers, on both digital and print-based projects. The range of work is diverse – interns may find themselves working on small scale, fast turnaround print work;  interior graphics;  branding projects ..  through to complex and large scale digital projects which may run for many weeks, even months. Whatever the project, design interns will further their creative, practical and technical skills and gain valuable commercial experience – working on real projects, with real clients.

Our digital interns work as part of the digital team, working under the supervision of both senior developers and senior designers. Work will involve both front-end styling and back-end programming on multiple and diverse projects. Daily team meetings ensure tasks are kept on-track and that knowledge is shared. Digital interns will gain real-world experience in a commercial and often fast-paced creative environment, keeping up to date with the latest trends and technologies and sharing this in development meetings to see how this can be incorporated into our projects.

A Case Study

Samuel Cooke

Sam joined Toucan after completing an MA in Communication Design at Falmouth University. We asked Sam about his expoerience of working within the Academy.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at Toucan? What were your favourite projects and why?
My favourite project was the 'Dartmoor: a Wild and Wondrous Region'  exhibition for RAMM. Working on all aspects of the exhibition from planning and creative development through to final artwork was a great experience – especially this early in my career. Considering how the size of different applications (large format, editorial, interpretation, promotional) and how they are viewed affects their design was a steep and challenging learning curve – particularly from a technical perspective.

What, if anything, has surprised you about working in a commercial studio?
I was surprised at the pace of a commercial environment, the number of projects on the go at any one time, and the speed at which they are often turned around. Also surprising was how much you absorb about the business side of an agency during daily life – not just the creative side. Costing of jobs, estimates, time sheets, deadlines, and how client's expectations are met and managed are all equally as important as the work that goes out.

Would you recommend the Academy to other graduates?
Yes, absolutely. Toucan has a very refreshing, friendly culture, and the way in which feedback and creative direction are given by senior designers only helps you learn and improve. The level of responsibility given and the opportunity to work on some of the most prestigious projects passing through the studio appear to be fairly unique among junior positions in the industry, and these projects also make for valuable portfolio pieces across a wide range of mediums.

Do you feel that the experience prepared your for a career within the creative sector? How?
The amount I've learnt about the several different aspects of agency life (in what feels like a very short space of time) has undoubtedly been a useful primer for a career in the industry.

Samuel Cooke
Samuel's blog posts
  • Breaking In: Weeks Four & Five

    Breaking In: Weeks Four & Five
  • Breaking In: Week Two

    Breaking In: Week Two
  • Breaking In: Week Three

    Breaking In: Week Three
  • Breaking In: Week One

    Breaking In: Week One
  • Dartmoor - A Wild & Wondrous Region

    Dartmoor - A Wild & Wondrous Region

what our graduates think

It’s a hugely valuable thing to be constantly surrounded by so much experience and knowledge: every day is a new lesson in a specific skill; or an opportunity to have your work and ability massively improved through collaboration, and critique.

Samuel Cooke

Academy Partnerships - how it works

We have developed a straight-forward five stage process for your business or organisation to partner with the academy programme.

  1. Register Your Interest
    One of our directors will meet with you to discuss the Academy and help you to identify the projects that might be most suited to the programme.
  2. Define your requirement
    Once a suitable project has been identified, we will help you to develop a short project requirement (brief) which will include your anticipated project outcomes and the timescales involved.
  3. Agree the Costs
    We will prepare a comprehensive costing for the project based upon your outline brief. This will cover all of the work that the academician(s) may undertake, an agreed number of project milestone meetings and the supporting and mentoring work provided by senior members of the Toucan team.
  4. Starting the project
    We will arrange a kick-off meeting with you, the academician and a senior member of our team, at which we will flesh-out the brief and discuss the particular opportunities and challenges that it presents. We will also agree a number of milestone and meeting points for the project.
  5. Project Delivery & Feedback
    Once the project is completed, we will give you the opportunity to meet and discuss the project and give an honest appraisal of the work undertaken and the performance of the individual academician(s).

If your business or organisation is interested in getting involved in this programme we'd love to hear from you. Please contact our Creative Director, Josh Beadon who will be able to give you further information about this exciting regional initiative.

Are you interested in Toucan's academy?

Whether you are looking for an internship, or are a business that wants to get involved in the programme, we'd love to hear from you.

Lets Talk
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