All of us have worked at least one part-time job in the course of our academic studies. Some of us do it because we had the extra time on our hands in-between semesters.
Some of us do it to raise funds for that short getaway (squeezed within recess week).
Some of us do it because we’re strong, independent me –
Whatever the reason, we don’t deny the value of part-time jobs for students. Apart from working part-time, however, there is actually another viable alternative you can consider: becoming a freelancer.
Digital Senior shares with you 4 benefits of doing freelance work—aside from the money you earn, of course—and why there’s no reason for you to not give it a go!
1. Build up your portfolio and relevant experience
It’s no secret that employers today want employees to come in as “work-ready” as possible: it’s not uncommon to find “entry-level” job postings that—frustratingly—ask for 1-3 years of experience. For those intending to go into jobs that are portfolio-based (writing and design, for example), you are not exempt from this: usually, you’ll be asked to provide samples of past work. If it’s been published or used on a commercial level, all the better.
This often leaves many fresh grads befuddled, with similar thoughts running through our minds.
Where is all this experience supposed to come from? Are employers just trying to make our lives difficult?
Well, not really, no. The definition of “entry-level” is not fixed, and actually varies from company to company!
Reasons for their requirements vary. They might expect a certain amount of experience because most people in entry-level jobs today are usually university graduates (due to the increased access to, and amount of people receiving higher education) who have worked that amount of years in their roles. It could also be a means to deter applicants who aren’t truly keen on the role.
Companies could also have insufficient resources, such as time, to train someone from the ground-up.
How do you persuade them, then, that you’ll be a worthwhile addition to their ranks?
One way, certainly, is through doing internships, but just interning these days isn’t quite enough anymore; the average university graduate today graduates with at least one under his or her belt. Furthermore, internships might not provide you with the experience you need in the specific skills your dream job or industry demands if you’re unlucky. We’ve all heard horror stories of interns stuck doing admin work, or worse still, running errands.
This is where freelance work comes in as a complement.
When you do freelance work you are often engaged for a specific expertise or skill and regarded as a professional, no different to a full-time employee attached to a company. This helps to establish confidence in employers that you are reliable and capable. As freelance work often comprises of focused tasks (like writing an article or doing producer duties for a production company), you can use them to beef up resumes and include them in your portfolio, if necessary. (E.g: Designed xxxx for xxx company, which was used in xxxxx)
So, do internships for exposure to industry and work experience – and freelance work as an add-on!
2. Polish up specific skills
Let’s say you’re good at designing and can design a mean poster, or code at the speed of lightning (in which case, you’re a rare and valued breed). However, you want to try designing different things or practise another coding language but have been procrastinating. (No judgement, we promise!)
Alternatively, you’re good in a specific subject/area and think you can make a career out of it, but you’re unsure how to get there or what is required.
Freelancing will not only help you out by giving you monetary incentive and reasons to get cracking, but also give you an idea of what the industries you work in are looking out for! Maybe they need more people well-versed in Adobe Premiere Pro (editing software), for example, or are facing a lack of coders strong in C++ or Ruby. You can then work on improving in these areas to give you an edge over your peers, which will help tremendously when you graduate and start your job hunt.
Maybe you’re not quite there yet, however, as quite a number of freelance jobs do have some requirements, such as writing samples, or past works, or a year of experience. You can either find companies that are willing to give you a chance or work towards these goals by amassing a portfolio or working in school productions on your own time. If you have the gumption and determination, you’ll get there!
3. Flexibility in work hours
Coming back from an exchange and find yourself with insufficient time to work a part-time job or internship? Sure, you can find ad-hoc jobs, such as cashiering for fairs, but why not look at freelance work? Depending on the type of work, working hours can range anywhere from a few days (deadlines) to months (project-based freelance work). Some will be site-based while others, work from home jobs. Or, you could work in your favourite café and people-watch at the same time.
The ability to choose when you work frees up time for you to explore other pursuits while earning much-welcomed cash. If you have less on your plate, you can accept more assignments; if you are busy or feeling stressed, you can take a break from working and just focus on what needs doing. If you think you can cope during school weeks and want to do some freelance work, go for it! Just make sure that you don’t accept too much work and bite off more than you can chew.
4. Cultivate discipline and responsibility
Freelance work often requires a degree of independence, with minimal supervision from companies and employers (except for updates, clarifications, and the like). You need to be able to hold your own weight.
As mentioned above, don’t take up too much work, or work that you know you cannot handle.
When you freelance, as with any other job, you are rendering a professional service to others with your name attached to it. At the end of the day, you are expected to hand deliverables in on time, or show up punctually, whichever is relevant, and your reputation will suffer if you fail to deliver.
Why is this important? You wouldn’t want to be blacklisted or let your employment chances suffer because of a moment of impulsiveness. This is especially the case for industries that are small, because everyone knows everyone, or knows someone that knows someone else.
That said, if you want to challenge yourself, go for it! Just make sure that once you commit, you commit. Work out a schedule to do a portion of work each day, for example, and leave some buffer time in case things go awry or need reworking, and you’ll do just fine.
Keen on exploring freelancing and what it has to offer? Here are some resources and sites you can explore:
- Has templates for freelancers offering their services (which you only need if companies hiring ask you to do up your own invoices/etc)
- An extensive list of part-time and freelance jobs available
- A guide to freelancing
- Written with full-time freelancers in mind, but with useful points worth looking at!
Keen on freelancing? Look out for our upcoming post on freelance jobs for students! If you are someone that has done freelance work and are keen to share insights and advice with fellow juniors, do leave us a comment below!
(Psst: In the meantime, if you’re keen on exploring freelance writing, Digital Senior is always on the lookout for contributors. Feel free to submit your applications or indicate interest at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!)