Freelancing isn’t just for people who’ve been around the career block a few times. In fact, for students and recent graduates, now’s the time to go solo.
If you’re quaking at the thought of a low-paid job, no-paid internship, or having to play office gopher for a year, freelancing is your ‘get out of jail’ card. It doesn’t mean shutting yourself off from full-time work or a fat salary: self-employment is about using the skills you have to make money and earn your career stripes. Here’s why the time is right.
University is The Perfect Stepping Stone
If your uni has an entrepreneur hub, it can set you up as a freelancer or business owner. Support is usually available to graduates as well as current students and typically includes advice, funding or training. Skills such as marketing or networking are career staples anyway, so grab them while you can.
Other reasons to capitalise on uni life:
- Your subject knowledge and motivation are still fresh – and you can use both to boost your earnings
- Fellow students and former tutors could be potential clients or allies. The earlier you start nurturing relationships, the better.
The Work Will Come in Handy
Somewhere between your 30th job application and your 10th rejection, things can start to look a little bleak. Yet there’s no law that says you have to wait for someone to give you a job – or that you need a boss to make money or climb the career ladder.
Prime freelance jobs include:
- Tutoring in your degree subject or hobbies
- Writing, photography, video skills, coding or anything else you do with confidence
- Sell something you’ve built, fixed, sewn, painted or drawn
- Market your time as a dog walker, gardener or personal assistant
- Start a website or blog and sell content, products or advertising space.
Freelancing doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t even have to be for keeps. You can try out ideas in your spare time, or around other employment, before developing into a fully fledged career – or trading it for something else down the line.
Freelancing Opens Doors
If a lack of work experience is holding you back, freelancing can plug the gaps. The skills, successes and challenges of working for yourself all count as hands-on business experience. From marketing and negotiation to budgeting and time management, freelancing gives you real-life examples to back up the buzzwords.
The benefits aren’t just professional. Freelance life can teach you resilience, lateral thinking and problem solving: they’re golden skills beyond work as well.
Beyond providing skills, freelance work can also open doors to becoming a digital nomad as described by Traveling Lifestyle. Starting freelance work now, while you’re in university, could lead to opportunities to work anywhere in the world, giving you the flexibility to expand your career options beyond a traditional office environment after graduation.
It’s Easy to Get Started
Don’t confuse ‘easy’ with ‘no effort’! Anyone can start a business, be a freelancer or have a side hustle – but you need to put in the graft to get the profit. Luckily, there’s tons of support:
- How to be a freelancer
- Paying tax and claiming expenses
- LinkedIn & Twitter: for connecting with other freelancers and support networks
The key to freelancing is ditching career blockers (office politics, or jobs which zap your confidence) while keeping the good stuff. That could include regularly checking in with colleagues, getting relevant training, or finding a mentor to help you level up.
Like any career choice, freelancing is a journey, not just a destination. Have a plan, put in the hours, and enjoy the ride!
Guest blog by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student – the UK’s largest student money advice site.