Posted 10 March 2022

What does it take to join the Google Creative Lab 5 programme? We ask its talented alumni to find out

For the last decade, Google’s Creative Lab team has been inviting a multidisciplinary mix of talented, emerging creatives to join them as part of their Creative Lab 5 programme. With applications now open, we celebrate this much sought-after programme by getting to know five former Fivers who’ve been there, done it all and have some invaluable tips for future applicants.

The Google Creative Lab 5 Programme


The programme is hosted in New York, Sydney and London at different times of the year

Programme Length

12 months

Cohort Size

1–5 people


How to apply

About Google Creative Lab

A global team within Google, on a mission to invent the company’s future and communicate its innovations in relatable ways

Launched in 2011, the Google Creative Lab 5 programme was created as a way to both meet and nurture emerging talent. As part of the scheme, successful applicants are plunged into the Creative Lab’s world for a year, working on incredible, forward-thinking projects that are often the first of their kind within Google. In the past, these projects have included producing an experience that lets you roam the surface of Mars; an interactive Levi’s jean jacket; and this ad for the Super Bowl.

Alongside being an essential part of the Creative Lab team, each ‘Fiver’ is paired with a mentor for the duration of the programme, and many of its alumni go on to work at the Lab full-time. To say that the scheme is in-demand would be putting it lightly; so with submissions now open, we wanted to give potential applicants some invaluable insight and advice – all by way of five inspiring former Fivers.

Meet five former Fivers

Saori Masuda, part of the 2017 programme

After graduating from Chelsea College of Art, Saori interned for the likes of Protein and Studio Moross, before joining the Creative Lab 5 programme in 2017. Now in her fifth year, Saori is a full-time creative designer at Google Creative Lab.

How would you describe the Google Five programme to someone who hasn’t heard of it?
It’s a place where people with diverse backgrounds and skillsets come together to work on various types of projects. As part of the programme you get to work alongside the wider Google team, but also bounce ideas and collaborate with other Fivers on your own projects.

Do you have a favourite project you worked on as a Fiver?
I’ve worked on projects spanning products and apps through to installations and print. A few key ones for me include (but not limited to):

Exploring Timelapse in Google Earth
showed humanity’s impact on the Earth through a global timelapse. It was so interesting – but at the same time devastating – to see how much our world has changed, a truly impactful and universal piece. Digital Wellbeing Experiments was another project that I particularly enjoyed. This was a series of apps and live wallpapers that helped people find a better balance with technology and their devices.

In addition to all of the projects we get to work on, one of the most amazing things about the Lab is the people! Some of the past Fivers are still some of my best mates and collaborators, and we still get to work together on occasion, which I absolutely love.

What advice would you give to someone applying for the programme?
Really consider which projects you show – quality over quantity! Make clear which particular part you played in a project’s process, and how you were involved, so that we know the potential skillsets you could bring to the table. We also love to see non-industry things, and anything that you’ve worked on as more of a passion project.

Kate Strudwick, part of the 2020 programme

Kate joined the Creative Lab 5 programme in 2020 as a designer. Having studied graphic design at Kingston School of Art and later Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, Kate is now a freelance designer.

Do you have a favourite memory from your time as a Fiver?
One of my favourite memories isn’t one I would call happy, but it has stuck with me in a positive way. It was right after the pandemic hit, when we dropped everything to find feasible ways to help people during a time of crisis.

It was amazing to see the energy and dedication of a group of people who genuinely cared about making a difference in the world. This spirit was not unique to this situation; moments like this continued to occur throughout what turned out to be a pretty tough year – but they always gave me a sense of hope and purpose.

In general, it was a privilege to be surrounded by such an incredibly talented group of people who always prioritised using their skills for good.

If you could sum up your experience of the Five programme in a GIF what would it be?
(Above) Alice falling down the rabbit hole represents my time on the programme. At times, being a Fiver felt like free-falling; an experience full of excitement, anticipation and fun with a healthy dose of fear. There are always moments of surprise and joy on the way down, and although you don’t quite know what the destination is, you know it is going to be wonderful.

“It was a privilege to be surrounded by an incredibly talented group of people who always prioritised using their skills for good.”

What would you say was the best thing about the experience?
The best thing about the programme was the people; the talent, kindness and patience of the team makes the whole experience. Even though we were working remotely for the majority of the time, the team kept the morale up and really looked out for each other. Every person in the lab is completely unique; there are so many contrasting personalities and skillsets but it works in the best way possible.

What advice would you give to someone applying for the programme?
There are many skills that are valuable in a multidisciplinary environment like the Lab, so don’t worry if you don’t fit into a box. One of the most important skills you can have is communication; make sure you present your ideas in a simple way and keep the story clear and concise. But most of all, be yourself – the more unique the better!

Jack Beveridge, part of the 2014 programme

Starting out, Jack studied fine art and painting at Central Saint Martins, before going on to Kingston University’s graphic design course. Initially joining the Creative Lab 5 programme as part of the 2014 cohort, Jack is now a creative lead at the Lab.

What did your working days look like as a Fiver?
When I started as a Fiver, the Lab in London had only been around a few years and was relatively small and scrappy. I walked into the office on my first day and sat in what I thought was a free desk, next to one of the creative leads, David Bruno. Little did I know, but that desk had been carefully made free by Janay, who runs the Fiver programme – and it defined my next seven years.

I worked closely with David on most projects, sometimes just us, and other times with over ten people, depending on the project’s size and importance. I always preferred the smaller ones because I got to wear multiple hats; for example, we would talk about an idea over lunch, then quickly scramble to make a pitch deck in the afternoon. I would often make all the visuals – film tests, posters, logos, drawings of installations – anything to communicate the idea in a simple and memorable way. Then I would chime in with the language and strategy while David patiently listened to my sub-par suggestions!

For the bigger projects I played a more defined role, often owning a stream of work – such as the visual language, or the installation when we launched Jacquard, the world’s first interactive textile. We were given a healthy amount of responsibility in that first year, often presenting work or directing a production company with the team. The days were always busy, unknown, electric and very rewarding.

“We were given a healthy amount of responsibility. The days were always busy, unknown, electric and very rewarding.”

What advice would you give to someone applying for the programme?
I’ll start my advice with a slight confession. When I applied, I didn’t have a Gmail account, hadn’t used many Google tools (except Search, YouTube and Maps), didn’t know the difference between UX and UI, and had no idea how to code (and still don’t).

While some people at the Lab are technologists, not everyone is, so it’s crucial to be confident in the skills you have. If you can reduce complex ideas into something simple and memorable, tell stories, build visual worlds, write beautifully or think strategically – those are all incredibly valuable skills that can help put Google’s technology into the world in a better, more thoughtful way.

The other bits of advice are more practical: Be patient, as it can take many months and interviews before finding out if you have a spot. Show process, and reveal the inner workings behind the shiny work. Lastly, talk about your interests, passions and opinions – many of the best projects from the lab start from these.

Daisy Ifama, part of the 2018 programme

South London-based filmmaker Daisy studied at Goldsmiths before joining the Creative Lab 5 programme in 2018. Today she works with the likes of YouTube and Depop, and recently released documentary, Twinkleberry as part of Netflix’s UK Documentary Talent Fund.

How do you feel being a Fiver influenced your next steps?
It has been THE influence. Being a Fiver took my whole career up a notch and taught me so much beyond film – about pitching, design, business, music, you name it. It’s made me a better all-round creative, has made me more confident in my ideas and has genuinely given me friends for life.

“Being a Fiver took my whole career up a notch and taught me so much beyond film – about pitching, design, business, music, you name it.”

Do you have a favourite project from that time?
WomenWill was definitely a favourite and a career-defining film to work on. It was an idea that I pitched to our ECD and was then involved in at all stages; I really felt that the team respected and supported my ideas from the get-go.

We collaborated with the Google Africa teams and shot across Lagos, Nigeria and Johannesburg, South Africa as well as a remote shoot in Nairobi, Kenya. I learnt so much from that trip that I still apply to films today. Back in the Lab, pretty much all the creatives contributed to the project in some way, so it was also a really cool opportunity to work with everyone.

What advice would you give to someone applying for the programme?
Be curious! The Lab really encourages you to think outside of the box in terms of project ideas, but also your own creative process.

I found it really refreshing to be thought of as a creative who works in film, and to be put on projects that aren’t immediately inside my comfort zone. I never thought I’d work on a film about machine learning and astronomy, but I was trusted by [creative lead and designer] Xavier Barrade on Anne’s Story and found that there was so much in the journey that I was captivated by.

Mary Leonard, part of the 2015 programme

Currently the creative director and founder of MRLD.Studio, Mary joined the Creative Lab 5 programme in 2015. She went on to stay at the Lab as a design lead, before working at Depop, Mother London and the London College of Fashion.

What would you say were your greatest learnings from the Five programme?
Amazing things can happen when different people from different backgrounds come together.

Before working at Creative Lab, I spent a few years in the design and branding industry. In these roles, I was surrounded by people who had studied the same thing as me, spoke the same ‘design language,’, had the same references – on entering Google, that all changed. For the first time in my career, I worked with teams where I was often the only designer on a project, collaborating with creative technologists, filmmakers, strategists and writers.

Working within these multidisciplinary teams allowed me to co-create projects I could have never achieved on my own. It opened my eyes to new creative possibilities, different mediums of expression and fundamentally shaped how I view creative teams and processes. It also helped inspire my own studio’s structure MRLD (More Reason — Less Decoration) and the types of projects we create.

Do you have a favourite project from that time?
There are so many projects I loved working on, from NSynth Super to Waymo 360, Project Bloks to Pixel’s Your Luxury Portrait. However, I think what makes the Lab special is not any one specific project, but the opportunity to work across so many different problems and mediums. One day you may be exploring the future of machine learning; the next day, you may be creating an AR experiment. It is the variety that makes the work so interesting.

What advice would you have for someone applying to be part of the Five programme?
As with all applications, my advice would be to be curious, humble and do your research. The application process is as much for you to discover if the role is right for you, as it is for Creative Lab to find the right candidate, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If you are unsure about what the role is, try researching past candidates to see if you are inspired by their journeys, work and creative outlooks. If you get to the interview stage, choose two to three case studies that not only represent what you can make, but also show the type of work you would like to do. People will hire you for the work you share, so be sure that it represents what you love.

Want to apply for 2022/2023?

The Creative Lab 5 programme in London is now taking submissions – hit the link below to find out more and submit your application.

This year, the Creative Lab 5 programme is looking for multidisciplinary designers, copywriters, filmmakers and technologists. They also love a wild card, though – so if you would be interested in creating cool and thoughtful work, it doesn't matter what your title is. See here for further details.


Google is a Creative Lives in Progress Company Partner. Every year, we collaborate with like-minded brands and agencies to support our initiative and keep Creative Lives in Progress a free resource for emerging creatives. To find out more about how you can work with us, email [email protected]