How Freelancing in College Can Complement Your Future Career

freelancing in college

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  • There are few people able to go to college without needing some form of job to help fund living expenses along the way.

    In a world in which remote jobs are becoming more accessible, freelancing can be a good option for students.

    Not only can you make money, but there can be flexibility, which means you’re better able to shape your work duties around your study timetable. That said, freelancing while in college can be more than just a convenient source of income. 

    Depending on your major, freelancing can also function as a tool to prepare you for and complement your chosen career path. There is also an increasing number of industries taking on freelancers. So almost whatever your intended specialty is, there are opportunities to take advantage.

    We’re going to take a moment to look at a few of the ways freelancing can be instrumental in complementing your future career.

    Finding Work

    The months before you graduate college can be some of the most daunting. This is largely because you’re now faced with the task of actually finding and competing for work in your field of expertise.

    However, a significant proportion of most freelancers’ time is spent finding jobs, pitching their skills to clients, and seeking the next opportunity. After all, there are some 59 million freelancers in the U.S. at the moment, so there’s no shortage of competition for jobs.

    By starting as a freelancer early in your college experience, you will be well prepared to represent yourself in applications and interviews.

    Perhaps the most important part of this is opening you up to being more creative about where and how you can find work. Too many graduates have a very narrow approach to sending out applications or responding to adverts.

    Freelancers, on the other hand, learn early on that getting the best jobs is about uncovering them yourself. Web developers in freelance spaces know there is demand for their services but they still have to be open to looking in a variety of places for opportunities.

    Alongside traditional job boards and agencies, mining personal and professional contacts, starting conversations on social media, and attending industry events are routes to locating work. It can take time to build up momentum, but the sooner you start, the better you’ll get. 

    It’s not just finding the sources of work, either. Freelancing requires you to get adept at marketing your skills effectively, as there’s no shortage of equally qualified candidates out there.

    Gaining experience in building an agile portfolio, pitching projects, and raising your industry profile are all activities transferable to job applications, interview situations, and starting your own business.

    Discovering Your Niche

    When you start out on a career direction, you still have to do the work of figuring out which niches and specializations you want to follow. For instance, if you’re interested in a career in programming, you’ll need to gain a better understanding of the differences between software development and web development to find your path.

    Aside from the broad difference of working with online environments versus developing operating systems and apps, there are further nuances within each area you’ll need to explore to establish which niche is most aligned with your goals. This is often difficult when you don’t have a lot of practical experience.

    However, when freelancing, you have opportunities to field test various niches. As a writer, you can take on everything from blog content work to animation scriptwriting. If you have skills in video editing you can explore how you might fit into online advertising or short filmmaking.

    This gives you a license to head further down the rabbit hole than you would be working a normal job alongside your studies. You get to gain insights into how those nuances of the industry operate, what the work is like, and whether it sustains your interest.

    Taking on freelance work is also a chance to find niches you may not have otherwise been privy to. Freelance work gives you opportunities not just to get work but also to have conversations with people on the front line of the industry every day. This can help you get a head start in adapting your skills for current and future needs and become a contributor to exciting and underexplored niches.

    Developing Work Methods

    Freelancing while at college can certainly be a route to honing those all-important technical skills you need to thrive in a related career. However, regularly working in your niche can also have a more valuable impact down the line.

    You get to learn more about how you work and develop practices in a way you may not otherwise have an opportunity for until you graduate college.

    Among the many things you need to know about freelancing, you should understand it’s not an easy path. You are working relatively independently and will sometimes have significant pressure from your clients to perform to a certain standard.

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    When you’re thrown into this scenario, while you may have a certain amount of support from clients if you’re fortunate, you have to find your own way to get the work done.

    This is a learning experience for all freelancers. Through a lot of trial and error, you’ll find out about the scheduling most effective for you and you’ll learn what environments you thrive in.

    You’ll also create mechanisms that help you make sure you reach deadlines and safeguard your mental wellness. These are insights you can take with you into your career beyond college and become a more productive, impactful, and happy contributor.


    Freelancing in college is so much more valuable than the money you’ll be making to support yourself. The nature of freelance work means you gain experience in pitching your skills in a competitive market. You have opportunities to explore your industry to find the right niche to pursue.

    There are also ample chances to understand and develop working practices that are right for you. It’s more practical than ever to be a freelancer across many industries. Starting now can set you up for success in the future.

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