Externships or Freelance Work

Externship Overview

  • An externship is mandatory for all Computer Graphic Design and Dynamic Web Development students to graduate.
  • It is up to you to find an externship. Do not ask the externship chair for an externship. Occasionally, employers contact SCTD requesting externs. The externship chair will connect employers with students on a case-by-case basis. If you are qualified for a position, have good attendance, meet deadlines, etc., you may be contacted for consideration.
  • The purpose of the externship is to expose you to an actual working environment with supervision, workflow and jobs. This gives you a foot in the door when seeking out your first job in your chosen career.
  • You must work at least 90 hours for an employer. The employer evaluates you, which translates to your externship course grade.
  • You and your employer determine the work schedule.
  • Payment for work is not required. You will get credit hours toward your graduation.

The Difference Between an Externship and Freelance work

Here are some key differences between an externship and freelance work.

  • Environment: As an extern, you should work in the employer’s work environment, exposing you to the setting, equipment and other graphic professionals.
  • Supervision: As an extern, you should be supervised by a graphic professional who can guide and teach. If the employer/supervisor isn’t a graphic professional and is relying on your knowledge to produce graphic content, then the work is considered freelance.
  • Computer and Software: The employer should supply you, as an extern, with a computer and the necessary software. If the employer needs you to supply these, then the work is considered freelance.
  • Time and Job: As an extern, you are required to fulfill 90 hours. If the employer would like to retain you longer than 90 hours, then an agreement must be made between you and the employer. SCTD is no longer involved past the 90 hours. Most employers who want to retain you will pay you to stay on the job. However, at a minimum, an employer needs to ensure that you can be employed for the full 90 hours.
  • Student Qualifications: You should be in your 5th or 6th quarter. Exceptions can be made if you are advanced and have the capability to fulfill the specific job requirements. This is up to the discretion of the externship chairman.

Freelance Overview

Employment is considered freelance when the employer needs a task or job completed that is outside the employer’s own ability and the employer is relying on your knowledge, computer and software. Freelance is solely between the employer and you. SCTD isn’t involved or liable in any way.

Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Experience: You gain experience through freelance and are able to list this on your resume. You can learn a lot by freelancing but have to do so by yourself. While many instructors are willing to help, SCTD is not obligated in any way.
  • Payment: Almost all freelance work is paid, but at a cheaper price than the industry standard. A cheaper rate lessens your liability if you encounter problems outside your knowledge or ability. Obviously, employers benefit by saving money.
  • Student Qualifications: Usually this position is filled with advanced students or new graphic design graduates.


Externship Chair: Tom Willis, twillis@sullivan4.wpengine.com
Gerry Beavers, SCTD-DCS@sullivan4.wpengine.com