Since I graduated from college, I have yet to find that coveted 9-5, salaried job. The longer it takes to find it, the more I have gotten to explore other opportunities. For the past year, I have worn a variety of hats part-time and have found that the state of the economy is forcing many (including myself) to re-define employment.
The first “gig” that I got out of college was writing for OurVinyl.com. This has been unpaid, but a great portfolio builder and a great experience. These types of positions, while not very financially rewarding, are still a great use of your unemployed time (particularly when you are fresh out of school and looking for experience).
Volunteering at a music festival landed me my next position as an intern at a small publicity and marketing agency, Musical Earth. When I moved to Columbus, I contacted the publicist of the festival and told him I was interested in interning for him. He brought me on as an unpaid intern, and that position evolved into a part-time paid position. The value of networking is just as great, if not greater, in “new employment” as traditional employment.
In order to pay my rent I did wind up taking a part time serving position. Although I had to work multiple jobs at that time, I was grateful that I could still be actively working in my field while slaving away waiting tables. I eventually took a few months off to travel, but am now back in the “new employment” game in California.
One of the great things about freelance and contractor gigs is that you can be very mobile. At Musical Earth, one of my co-workers lived 2 hours away and hardly came into the office. Writers for OurVinyl.com contribute from all over the world.
Right now I am starting a paid part-time internship at a PR firm in San Francisco. Paid internships are a great way to make money and gain experience, without committing to a career you may be unsure of. I also do publicity for a band, much like my position at Musical Earth, but now as an independent contractor. I also still contribute to OurVinyl, now as a senior writer, and am pursuing other freelance and paid internship opportunities until I find a career and a job that are perfect for me.
“New employment” is a great option for many different circumstances. Post college grads who can’t find a career because of the economy, lack of experience, or their own uncertainty, for example. Freelancing is always a great way to make extra money on the side, even for the employed. And anything that gives you experience towards your long term goals is progress.
There are, however, many who are not recognizing this new form of employment. I have gotten more than one strange look in a job interview when I explain that none of my recent positions have been full time. I had to do a lot of coaxing with my landlord to assure her that while I am not full-time employed, I am working full time. Applying for a loan? Good luck explaining your income.
While this new form of employment is catching on much slower with many traditional companies and their full-time employed people, there are ways to avoid being judged and in some cases, discriminated. If you are working as a freelancer or contractor, I recommend branding yourself. Create a title, like an umbrella under which you can include your many gigs when talking to landlords or creditors. On resumes, group your gigs together by similarities to prevent having an unending list of odd-jobs that you have to explain to prospective employers. For example,
Freelance Writer (Full Time)
-Senior Writer for OurVinyl.com
-Creator and Author of MeghanBender.Wordpress.com
-______ at ____
Aside from networking, I use the internet to find many gigs. Check out these sites and start making money!