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Many college first-year students have some vague idea of what they want to do after graduation, but 80% of students end up changing their major at least once.

Every change of major brings a significant cost of both time and money. Classes you already took may not apply to your new major while picking up the classes you need may extend the time necessary to get your degree. Every extension of time is also a rise in the cost of your education.

One way to minimize this cost is by freelancing in college. Not only can freelancing provide you with a much-needed source of income, but it can also help you figure out what you want to do in less time. The sooner you figure out what you want to do, the less it will cost you in time and tuition.

Here is a guide to freelancing in college and a few benefits it offers.

Getting Started

When you look for your first freelancing gig, you’ll want to consider three things:

  • What are you good at?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What is available?

Sometimes, you may not find a freelancing project doing what you love, and sometimes what you like and what you are already good at are two different things.

For instance, you maybe passionate about filmmaking, but have graphic design experience. You may find freelance work doing graphic design, which can open the door to some video editing opportunities. That can lead to videography opportunities, and you can eventually get a budget to shoot an entire commercial.

1. You Get to Try Different Things

The kinds of freelance jobs you take may have nothing to do with your major – and that can be a good thing. Sometimes, what you think you want to do with your life is more influenced by others than you are aware. Freelancing gives you an opportunity to get paid to try a wide variety of jobs to see which ones you enjoy. The ones you don’t, you also don’t have to keep doing.

Freelance jobs vary, you can become a dog walker, gardener, party planner, house sitter or delivery driver. It can be surprising to see how much money you can make as a freelancer. You may get a freelance gig doing voiceovers and discover a passion for radio or act in a student film and realize you love it. While you will not love every job you do, the more things you try, the more likely you are to stumble on what you love.

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2. Learn Fast and Get Broad Experience

No matter what field you go into, the more experience you have in a range of areas, the better you will do. You never know where your expertise will come in handy. For instance, any marketing experience you gain will stand you in good stead if you start your own business one day. It can also make you a valuable employee in almost any small company.

Working as a personal assistant can help you gain a greater understanding of different types of work. Also, being a personal assistant to a real estate developer may flare up a passion for real estate, while working for a venture capitalist may help you conclude that is not a path you want to pursue.

Also, the more freelance experience you have, the more financially stable you will become later in life. It can be a great resource when between jobs or in times you can’t get work in your chosen field. You may even turn collegiate freelancing into a lucrative career that becomes a full-time occupation post-graduation.

3. Obtain Many Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are know-how that will help you excel in any job or field. People skills, time management skills, analytical skills or leadership skills are all useful skills no matter what kind of job you have. As a freelancer in college, you will need to balance your academic duties with social life besides your freelance work. This will help you master time management.

Freelancing is an invaluable experience as you have to deal with clients and customers. It can help you learn how to stand your ground against unreasonable expectations and even how to handle unethical clients. Sometimes, the best learning experiences are bad ones.

Being a freelancer can also teach you how to spot trouble. It’s far better to learn this when at most you lose money for a single job, rather than work for someone for months before discovering they have no intention of paying you. The most challenging part about transferable skills, however, is figuring out how to communicate them on a resume in a way that gets you noticed.

4. Improve Your Budget and Your Confidence

In 2017, the average college graduate walked out into the world $40,000 in debt. College students call for the extra income they don’t have to pay back. Every dollar you earn is one less dollar you have to borrow – with interest. Also, freelancing almost never involves a commute, which means you also save the time you would spend at a part-time job just going to and from work. Not all freelance opportunities are short-term, either. Sometimes, you may work long enough for a single employer to qualify for benefits. Imagine a spring break being a paid vacation!

Unlike many traditional jobs, you also may not have to even submit a resume for many freelance assignments. Many clients may not even know you are a college student. This is another intangible benefit that freelancing offers you.

When many college students go on their first corporate interviews, they may have only had experience doing low-paying, menial jobs or internships. This often makes them feel somewhat less than qualified for a higher paying job with more responsibilities. This hesitancy also gets communicated in interviews.

The question is, why would a company hire you to do a job you are not even confident you are qualified to do? Freelancing gives you the opportunity to build the confidence that allows you to know you can handle any job or any task an employer can throw at you. Because whatever it is, you’ve most likely already done something similar as a freelancer.

To Wrap It Up

Being a freelancer is no longer equal to a part-time job in a fast-food joint. Many respected and highly paid professionals are freelancers.

Freelancing in college prepares you for the job market or may become a job you continue post-college. You may even transition from being a freelancer to starting your own company. In today’s world, the sky’s the limit for just how far a freelancing job can take you. College is a great place to start.


Written By
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

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