Graduation is a frightening time for many reasons. For many, it means departing from a place that you have lived in for many years. For others, it means saying goodbye to people who have been a big part of your life. But one of the most terrifying things about graduating is finally leaving education and entering the real world. You need to start thinking about what you want to do, who you want to be, where you want to live, and how to get that dream job you have been working towards. One of the best ways to find the answers to these questions is to freelance. As someone who spent a year doing it since graduation, I can confirm that freelancing is a decision that is certainly worth considering. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. Get your foot in the door.
I came out of university with a degree in journalism, an industry that very much relies on that old philosophy that it’s more about who you know than what you know. Getting a job in this field—and, for that matter, any creative field—requires you to get your foot in the door one way or another. Freelancing gives you the opportunity to make contacts in many different places and show them what you are capable of. You never know—you may even wow one of them enough to land a permanent position. There are great many people who have found their dream jobs by doing this.
2. Freelancing gives you experience to help you get a job.
“Experience required.” These two words are the most disappointing, infuriating things any graduate can find on a job application. After all, how does one get experience unless someone gives it you? This is why freelancing is such an attractive idea for those coming out of education.
I would often ask those who agreed to hire me as a freelancer to give my work a review when it was finished. I then added their endorsements to applications and showed them to potential employers. This helped demonstrate my experience in resumes and interviews.
3. You get a taste of a career before committing.
Many people coming out of education will be faced with the question: “what do I want to do?” For a lot of graduates, this will be difficult to answer. You are suddenly under immense pressure to get on the career ladder, and yet you do not want to make the wrong choice and end up in a job you can’t stand.
Freelancing is like a quick sample of the job; a trial period for you before you decide if it’s something you want to seriously commit to. It allows you to see if you are right for the work and if the work is right for you. You don’t have to worry about the repercussions of quitting and how it might look to future employers either.
4. It’s perfect while you’re looking for work.
I came out of university with an enormous student debt and very little money left in my bank account. Until I found something permanent, I needed a quick source of income. Freelancing was the solution to this problem. It allowed me to keep my head above water until I could land a steady job. As anyone who chooses to give it a go will soon discover, it takes a while to earn a significant and regular sum of money. You certainly shouldn’t expect to make a small fortune from it either. But as a bridge between education and employment, there are far worse things you could be doing with your time.
5. You have more freedom to make the most of graduate life.
Many graduates will have their hearts set on making the most of life after education. Perhaps you want to volunteer to teach abroad, invest in a project you are passionate about, or apply for a gap year program. Getting on the career ladder may not be at the top of your list of priorities. However, there’s one harsh reality that connects all of the aforementioned plans—they require money. You can achieve both the money and the freedom to see your passions through by choosing to freelance after graduation. I used the money earned from my freelance writing, for instance, to travel and see new parts of the world.
Featured photo credit: Photo by Dave Morris via flickr.com