The pandemic has cast a global shadow over us all. But the effects haven’t been felt equally. Some people have been fortunate enough to endure only the inconvenience of not being able to go out or interact as before.
Younger generations may be lucky in this regard. Students might have had the academic calendar disrupted, but education can be carried out online. In any case, they can always look forward to next year. Even younger employees may have a safety net. More people in their 20s are living with their parents and taking longer to achieve financial independence.
Yet the pandemic offers a lesson in being proactive. Getting through unscathed is an opportunity to improve on certain practices. A person who owns a mobile home still needs insurance because they can’t bet on avoiding the next storm or flood. Instead of looking for the upcoming Netflix show to binge-watch or sinking hours into social media or video games, now is the time to start doing freelance work. Here’s why.
Avoiding a gap year
Students may not feel a great sense of urgency during the pandemic. They’re young, and in most families, that means fewer responsibilities and less pressure to bring in income. To them, staying at home for months is simply a long and rather dull vacation. And with all the entertainment and information channels available online, it can be quite tempting just to sit back and relax.
But the interruption in a student’s education is real. Few schools are in agreement on how to proceed with the reopening. The situation is still evolving, and even if schools reopen, they may close again. Some courses are easier to teach online than others.
These complications will ultimately delay a student’s career progress. Young employees who’ve lost their jobs are affected in the same way. Do nothing, and you risk creating a ‘gap year’ in your resume. You leave things to chance. Will your future employer give you a pass just because this was the year of the pandemic?
Take on freelance work, even if it’s a small project. It will demonstrate your initiative, maturity, and willingness to make that extra effort.
If you’ve never handled freelance work before, it can be hard to start. Getting hired by clients can be tough, although younger people may have an edge in skill due to being digital natives. But even when you land a project, you might not know how to proceed.
Freelancing isn’t just about having the required skills to do a project. You also need to have an organized workflow. Good communication with clients and any collaborators will prove essential. You want to set expectations at the outset, clarify things as you go along, and consistently meet deadlines.
Doing freelance work during this pandemic-induced lull isn’t about making yourself ‘look’ occupied. It’s a chance to learn new skills and apply yourself. You’ll get a better idea of what it’s like to handle professional situations at work.
Make a good impression with your early freelance work, and you never know what doors it can open for you. Clients who like your work may eventually offer you full-time employment, or a warm referral that gets you there.
The full-time option
In previous years, freelancers had a bad reputation. The industry was full of workers who took on freelance projects as a second or third job. Communication and collaboration platforms were still in their infancy. This diluted the quality of work and left many clients unhappy.
Today, remote work is on the rise. Even before the pandemic, it was common for businesses to contract more jobs to freelancers. More skilled people were entering the workforce and making projects their top priority. The competition has improved the quality of output.
Freelancing is increasingly being seen as a viable career option. No matter how the ‘new normal’ unfolds, you can continue to find jobs online. Going full-time, you’ll also have to master the various tasks of an entrepreneur. Managing client relationships and bringing in leads, task management and prioritization, calculating and adjusting your rates to maintain profitability; these are essential business skills.
The pandemic holds many lessons for us all. No doubt, for those who have endured hardship, there are greater challenges to overcome. But if you can perceive the opportunity these times present, you can start being proactive. Take on freelance work and translate free time into valuable experiences. It could prove to be an invaluable source of experience and learning in your future career.