Freelance designer working for free

over 7 years ago from

Hi guys,

I am a engineer student very interested in UI and UX design (with a portfolio). This summer I am doing a two months internship as a graphic designer in a startup (unpaid). My futur boss put me in touch with another startup to redo their UI/UX, without mentioning payment.

My question is the following : Because I did not take graphic designer classes, I hesitate to talk about payment ($ or equity), what should I do ?


  • Jon DobrowolskiJon Dobrowolski, over 7 years ago

    You will never get equity for freelance design unless the company is someone you shouldnt be working for anyway (no smart startup would operate that way or think its worth the time to put together terms).

    I think its smart to intern for free, I also think it would be smart to ask if there was compensation, especially if you want some. Communicate with your boss and ask him if he knows anything about it before you talk to the client. Then make sure you have an informed conversation with them as well.

    Always over communicate and set client expectations clearly even if it loses you the job. This is what I learned after ten years and being on both sides of the client / vendor relationship.

    2 points
    • Caleb SylvestCaleb Sylvest, over 7 years ago

      Agreed. As Jon says, just talk about it. (Talking is a skill that will be necessary and key for the rest of your life. I wish I was better at talking about what I'm doing and what I want!)

      If you need money, then say so. Interning for free is not ideal for anyone (IMO) but if you can gain good experience and are able to live without being paid for your time then do it.

      Even if you can/will do the internship for free I would still suggest asking about compensation. You have nothing to lose, and may actually get paid something rather than nothing.

      1 point
  • cliff nowickicliff nowicki, over 7 years ago

    I am kind of curious how you, an engineer student, got an internship as a graphic designer if you've never taken any graphic designer classes.

    1 point
  • Rizwan MRizwan M, over 7 years ago

    if you are really good at something. Don't do it for free!

    1 point
  • Cole TownsendCole Townsend, over 7 years ago

    If you were doing internal stuff for the company with which you're interning or they're not actually using your work/input on the project then I wouldn't worry about payment.

    If they use something for a client project that they're getting paid on, like a screen you make or a pattern you design, you should get paid.

    1 point
  • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, over 7 years ago

    Companies I have worked for have covered travel and lunch expenses for all their interns. If they ended up being really good they'd get a little bonus at the end. Fairs fair I think.

    0 points
  • Clément Vullierme, over 7 years ago

    Ok thanks a lot guys ! It helps a lot !

    0 points
  • Pierre de MillyPierre de Milly, over 7 years ago

    It's totally ok to do an unpaid internship. It's totally not ok to do unpaid freelance work, whatever your skills.

    An intern is here to learn but a freelancer is here to work and is expected to deliver results.

    0 points