There is a barrage of research and commentary on the fact that millennials are deciding (in droves) to strike out on their own when it comes down to their career. Whether it’s because we think we’re better than what’s expected of the typical entrance employee or because we’re convinced that the job market has very little protection and stability when it comes down to it, the fact of the matter is there’s a very high chance that you’re going to have to decide for yourself what you really want.
A traditional job environment has perks that working for yourself doesn’t and vice versa. We’re going to miss out on something, unless we decide to take on both – in which case we’re still going to miss out on sleep.
It’s easier in the long run to find what satisfies you early on. This can change later in life but regardless of what path you or I choose, being successful tends to have the same traits like:
- being eager – being passionate about work makes you more likely to get it done and find ways to improve it, making you invaluable to both your client and your boss (if you decide to work for yourself they’ll be the same person). Plus, if you’re super psyched about the product it’s kind of hard for others not to be as well i.e. when you don’t care about the product, people can tell and they won’t care either. It’s a lose-lose for everyone.
- a willingness to learn – this ties into being eager. If you’re genuinely interested and invested in what you’re doing, you’re going to naturally want to know more about it. This means that you’ll grow along with your product. It’ll make you flexible in ways that others aren’t and once again you’ll be
Plus you won’t be stuck making the same old product like a factory worker. You’ll be able to make additions to your product or make whole new ones if you want. Basically, the more you know, the more control you have over your work – whether you’re your own boss or not.
BUT, deciding whether you want to take that office job and try and dig yourself out of debt vs. making yourself the only one accountable for whether you get out of bed before noon is not only very much an option for millennials, but it’s pretty much a necessity at this point.
Freelancing can get you a lot of experience quick, a lot like an internship. The difference is that there’s no company to take the fall if you mess up or run interference with … unseemly customers.
With freelancing, you also have to be preferably both good at sealing in word-of-mouth referrals and online campaigning. That office job has a clientele base set up already. They have a history of their work and accountability to fall back on and basically people already know they’re there. Starting from the ground up means a lot of footwork. You’re your own assistant, accountant, social media manager and so on. You get to do more good things than a traditional office job would give you right off the bat but you also have to do more of the suck-ass stuff.
BUT, don’t get swamped by all of this and think these decisions will make or break your life.
I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do one or the other. This blog post on Braid Creative does a great job of guiding people who are looking to switch up their audiences and the content they create. Better yet though, it just reminded me that nothing is set in stone. I can always change my mind – As long as I do it with a technique and some patience, I’ll be set.
Maybe freelancing and being your own boss early on will help you get the experience you want & need to get the office job you really want down the road. Maybe it’s vice versa. At the end of the day, it’s okay to choose both if that’s what gets you the satisfaction you’re looking for.