8 Reasons to Freelance as a Student or Graduate

8 reasons to freelance as a student: gain practical application of knowledge, work experience, build portfolio, upskill yourself


January 7, 2022


15 minutes to read

Making the leap from the academic space to the workplace can seem difficult, daunting and overwhelming. Transitioning into the real world requires being able to translate theoretical knowledge into practical skills. In addition to understanding how to apply theoretical concepts in real world scenarios, workplace etiquette, managing deadlines, multitasking on different projects and collaborating with other team members are all new aspects to pick up and excel. While internships are an integral part of helping students and recent graduates, 64% of students have had their internships canceled and 85% don’t know how to explain a cancelled internship gap on their resume according to research by Yello.

Remote apprenticeships and freelancing are becoming a very popular choice among recent graduates, early in career professionals and current university students. Freelancing is the process of taking on contract or project based work with fixed deadlines and compensation packages. Freelancers collaborate with companies to meet short term or long term goals through niche based services which are offered through private client networks or freelance platforms. With the advent of technology and a wide array of remote working options, this could be a great way to kickstart your career path. 

Remote apprenticeships and freelancing

A report by Upwork shows that the number of freelance workers has increased by 36% with over 2 million professionals. 

Top Freelance Categories

In the last 12 months alone, a report by Upwork shows that the number of freelance workers has increased by 36% with over 2 million Americans choosing to go freelance. Some of the most popular freelance platforms are Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer. These platforms are also extremely competitive with hundreds of freelances who sign up on a daily basis. An alternative for students and recent graduates would be to go with remote apprenticeship platforms like Qureos where we will equip you with the tools required to complete projects successfully and provide mentorship to guide as you start out. The top 10 areas where freelancers are in constant demand and are likely to be successful are:

  • Computer & IT
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Administrative
  • Project Management
  • Customer Service
  • Medical & Health
  • Writing & Editing
  • Education & Training
  • Marketing
  • HR & Recruiting

Reasons to Start Freelancing as a Student or Graduate:

Here are some of the major reasons why you should consider launching out into the freelance market as a student or recent graduate:

  • #1 – Apply knowledge to practical projects – As a student or recent graduate, everything learnt within academia is theoretical. A study by Harvard has shown the importance of applying everything you learn to simulated or real scenarios to convert it from passive to active learning. Choosing to freelance will give you opportunities to test your ability to use your education in a practical situation. This will complement your studies and give you hands-on experience helping you solidify your learning. Application based learning will also give you an edge over the competition as you have learnt concepts through a practical approach and it has been strongly rooted in your mind.
Gain work experience
  • #2 – Gain work experience – Choosing to freelance through apprenticeships will give you an opportunity to gain real work experience. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 91% of employers prefer to hire employees with previous work experience and 65% prefer candidates who have relevant experience within the similar industry or function. This is how you build your career by seeking out and gaining experience in job roles and industries that may be of interest to you. Freelancing could also give you an opportunity to test different job functions.

According to NACE, 91% of employers prefer to hire employees with previous work experience and 65% prefer candidates who have relevant experience within the similar industry or function.

  • #3 – Build your portfolio – Employers and hiring managers always ask for previous experience when recruiting for full time roles. Having a portfolio of past work with references and positive testimonials will give you a major advantage over the rest of the competition. Building a portfolio also shows tangible results and metrics as a teaser to showcase the quality of your work. This is often difficult to expect from students and recent graduates who do not have a lot of relevant experience.
  • #4 – Monetize your skills – It doesn’t hurt to be able to monetize your skills and earn some extra income while being a student or recent graduate. If your freelance gig kicks off, you could even begin paying off your student debt or set aside money to invest in your higher education. You could go with a standard hourly rate for your services or choose to go with a project based pricing model. Your pricing rate as a freelancer should depend on the level of effort and time coupled with your experience and industry when approaching a project. It is important to take on research before quoting rates for projects you take on as a freelancer.
  • #5 – Flexible without long term commitments – As a student, you will have certain months during the semester when you’re packed with assignments and deadlines while other months may be fairly easy in terms of workload. Additionally, there are summer/winter breaks and other short gaps when you’re free to focus on passion projects. Freelancing opens up opportunities for you to bid and take on projects according to your schedule. This flexibility will ensure that you don’t get burnt out and are able to focus 100% on every project.
  • #6 – Explore new subjects other than your major – Most professionals take up jobs that are vastly different from their field of study. Research findings from a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that only 27% of graduates were working in a field related to their university major. This is a commonplace occurrence after you gain some experience and dabble into different fields and industries to see what sparks your interest. Freelancing through apprenticeships can give you the ability to try out new business functions and roles to explore and see what you may want to pursue in the future.
  • #7 – Create a side hustle – Working on freelance projects through apprenticeships will give students and early in career professionals chances to kickstart a side hustle. A recent study by Zapier showed that 34% of Americans have a side hustle with 46% who use it as a passive income and 38% who follow passion projects. Financial prudence has shown that millionaires have an average of 7 income streams. If you are aiming for financial freedom and independence, it would be wise to pivot and have multiple streams of income and side hustles to either re-invest in yourself or set aside as savings for a rainy day.
Create a side hustle

A Zapier report showed that 34% of Americans have a side hustle with 46% who use it as a passive income and 38% who follow passion projects – this could be through freelancing!

  • #8 – Project management and soft skills – Venturing out into freelancing will help you learn how to manage your time and different projects. Multi tasking different work activities and managing stakeholder expectations without dropping the ball is an extremely important quality that recruiters look for when searching for candidates. In addition, freelancing will also help to develop soft skills like accountability, communication, teamwork, flexibility, etc and make it easier for you to transition into a full time role when you are ready. 

How can Qureos help?

With over 1.1 billion freelancers in the world today, it is a highly competitive space to break into especially when you are just starting out. Qureos can help you upskill and become industry ready with the following features:

  • Equip you with the in-demand skills required by employers
  • Collaborate with like-minded peers who are keen to grow and learn
  • Mentorship from industry professionals with many years of experience
  • Access to simulated projects and paid apprenticeships to help build your portfolio, gain experience and meet with our corporate partners from all over the world

If you’d like to learn more about all the buzz at Qureos, contact us or check out our socials!

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