Hiring Students

Are you interested in hiring a current student to work on a design or illustration project?

We get many requests for our talented students to work on lots of different kinds of projects, both paid and pro-bono (design for a good cause, sometimes with no compensation).

Here’s how to go about finding a good match.

No spec work

Firstly, we don’t participate in “contests.” All students are members of the GDC (Society of Graphic Designers of Canada), whose code of ethics discourages what is termed “spec” work from its members. This is when a client will ask several designers (or illustrators) to provide a creative solution, but will only pay, or give a “prize“ for the one he/she likes. Another term for this is “crowd-sourcing.” We believe that all creative work has value, even from our first year students.

Speculative design work or spec work is word done without any guarantee of fair market value remuneration or compensation.

You can read more about spec work and why it is bad for our industry at nospec.com and gdc.net/tools-resources/design-buyers/what-is-speculative-work.

Projects are usually on a freelance basis

Secondly, we rarely incorporate external projects into our curriculum as we need to plan projects well in advance and they rarely fit the academic schedule. Instead, projects are normally completed on a freelance basis. Students undertake freelance work to earn a little extra cash, or in some cases to gain experience if there is no budget and the subject-matter is meaningful to them (usually for a non-profit organization).

Here’s the process we suggest:

1. Write a short creative brief

Write a short creative brief describing your project. What is your need or problem? Are you looking for print design, illustration, photography, web design, or something else? Do you know what end product you are looking for, for example a poster, a book cover illustration, a logo? Who is your audience? What is your timeline? Do you have a budget or are you a non-profit organization with no budget? Do you have mandatory content, and if so, what is it? Do you have colour restrictions? Write as much as you know into the brief so that the student can see exactly what you are looking for. Include your contact information (specify how you would like students to contact you) and include a closing date for expressions of interest.

If you have questions about what to include in the brief, or what budgets might be appropriate, please e-mail or call the department (see Contact page).

2. E-mail us the brief

E-mail us the brief with “Freelance Brief” in the subject line. The brief can be written in an e-mail or it can be attached as a Word file or PDF. Our email address is idea@capilanou.ca.

The department will post your brief internally where all students can view it, or students of only specified years if you prefer.

3. Interested students will contact you directly

Interested students will contact you directly. Sometimes only one student will contact you, sometimes several will. If none do, please feel free to e-mail us and we can follow up with them. (There could be several reasons why students do not respond – it could be a very busy time in the term, the remuneration may be too low, etc.)

At this point you can ask the student(s) to send you a PDF showing examples of their work. Some students will have portfolio websites that you can look through. If you like the work of a particular student, you can go ahead and engage them. Please note we encourage our students to ask for a deposit at an early stage of the project. If you like the work of several students and can’t choose, please feel free to contact us with a list of students, and we will be happy to give an opinion of their particular strengths.

If you’d like to see creative submissions from several students before deciding who to work with, please agree to pay each student who participates a realistic sum of money for their time. This can vary according to your budget, but should be stated in the brief.


If you have any questions, please e-mail idea@capilanou.ca or call us at 1 (604) 990-7820.

Thank you for considering our students for your project. If you'd prefer to hire one of our grads please visit ideagradshow.com which has links to all of our grad portfolios or check our list of IDEA School of Design Grad Websites by Year.