GUEST BLOG: Are you freelance curious?

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by Kerri-Ann Hockley from PolicyBee.

All change

The problem with university is that, at some point, it has to end. Sooner or later you’ll be ditching the all-nighters and packing your bags for jobsville.

Not that being a student is a walk in the park, of course. But for most, university life is unlikely to be a Monday-Friday, 9-5 thing. Entering the world of work usually means a pretty drastic change from dancing to your own tune to dancing to someone else’s, and that can take a while to get used to.

So, what if you don’t really fancy it? What if you don’t want to wave goodbye to your freedom just yet? Unfortunately you can’t just sit around doing nothing, and those student loans won’t pay themselves back. You have to do something, sure, but the good news is you might not have to sell your soul just yet.

All for one

That’s because you have options.

As a recent study of around 1,000 recent graduates shows, self-employment is an increasingly tempting proposition for many students. The idea of following the ‘normal’ route into employment is becoming less and less attractive with every passing graduation ceremony.

This is partly down to changing attitudes: graduates’ ideas of what work ‘looks like’ have developed and reflect how progressive companies market themselves as offering more than just a job. Even so, donning a suit and toeing the corporate line just isn’t enough for some. The idea of doing things on their own terms, being in control and having flexibility is a much bigger draw.

It’s partly down to technology, too. Apps, online tools, cloud storage, smartphones etc make working life a doddle and are second nature to even the least tech-savvy among us. You don’t actually need an office any more, either. At least, not when there’s free Wi-Fi at the coffee shop round the corner.

Bearing in mind this noticeable shift towards self-employment among our nation’s students and graduates, it’s a shame the survey suggests most universities aren’t keeping up.

In fact, it shows there’s some work to be done:

  • 62% of graduates said freelancing wasn’t discussed by their uni’s careers department at all.
  • 48% were disappointed with how their careers department prepared them for work.
  • 44% said they were thinking about freelancing after graduation.
  • 56% said they’d freelanced while studying.

To make matters worse, it also shows Russell Group universities are less likely to produce budding entrepreneurs than their post-1992, ex-polytechnic counterparts.

All or nothing

So, despite all this, if you think the freelancing life might be for you, where do you begin?

If you’re lucky enough to study at a university that supports and promotes entrepreneurship you’re on to a winner already. Make sure you thoroughly investigate the careers department; look beyond the usual ‘how to write a CV’ stuff and head specifically for something like an enterprise hub. Get in touch with the professor or head of enterprise and sign up for any meet-ups and workshops.

Thankfully, York has its finger on the entrepreneurial pulse and actively promotes enterprise. If you haven’t already looked, spare a few minutes to read some of its advice about going it alone – the Start an Enterprise page is a good place to, er, start.

It also pays to listen to those who’ve taken the plunge  already.   Flipbook is packed with priceless advice and practical tips on what to do (and what not to do) before you step out on your own.

PolicyBee is a business insurance broker with a knack for covering freelancers, sole traders and brand-new businesses.