To freelance or not to freelance: going corporate after graduation

Freelancing offers a great reprieve from one’s 9-5 job filled with the hectic life of an agency or corporate PR worker. With freelance comes a beautiful workspace with a shiny MacBook Pro on a wooden desk and everything out of a Pinterest picture. For some, there’s nothing better than being one’s own boss and tasting that sense of freedom every morning. However, freelance does not come easy, it is something earned and it is not for everyone.

Freelance is not just the organized workspace with the different MacBook monitors staring back at you; you need experience before venturing into the uncharted territory. (Tran Mau Tri Tam)

Freelance is not just the organized workspace with the different MacBook monitors staring back at you; you need experience before venturing into the uncharted territory. (Tran Mau Tri Tam)

Right out of college, it can be difficult to make the decision of going freelance or landing into the safety net of a corporate or agency job. Some want the safety of a constant salary while others see freelance as an untapped earning potential.

Some advice?

Do a structured corporate or agency job before going into freelance work.

Firstly, freelance isn’t for everyone.

“I’m passionate about my freelance work and it is the best decision I could have ever made,” said, Elaine Pofeldt, freelance journalist and former senior editor for Fortune Small Business magazine. “However, that being said, that was the best job career path for me. Freelancing isn’t for everyone. Some of the most successful people in my field tried freelancing and failed. However, they are now thriving in their corporate career path.”

In her Forbes’s article, Pofeldt dissects the topic of if you should freelance after graduation. Freelance demands a very structured and disciplined work schedule for maximum efficiency and productivity. In public relations, deadlines must be met with polished, finalized work.

Now, what is the benefit of going corporate right out of college?

Secondly, a corporate job whips you into shape.

At a structured job, you learn how to have a rigid work schedule with pressing supervisors and hard to work with clients. You learn how to balance difference work projects and also learn the in and outs of the PR industry.

You have mentors and bosses who guide and mold you. You apply what you leaned in college to the real workplace. Suddenly, all of skills you learned through the press releases and media kits you created for your midterm projects are being utilized. You’re witnessing press conferences and may even be a spokesman for a brand.

Corina Manea, founder of NutsPR and currently based in Madrid, Spain, discussed the “adapt or fail” policy she found at work.

“You have to constantly be coming up with creative new ideas to showcase at work to show everyone your value and contributions to the company,” she said. “Corporate PR is very challenging and fast but you grow so much from such a high speed workplace. You learn how to adapt with change to avoid getting buried. It’s a go-go-go mentality from the moment you walk through the office doors to the moment you leave.”

Lastly, by working in a company setting you network like crazy.

When you enter the workplace you suddenly enter the network of everyone that you work and come in contact with. By building friendships and creating relationships with your bosses, you are paving a road for growth and advancement.

With the different projects you’ll be assigned and the range of clients you’ll have, you’ll be coming into contact with a lot of people.

You grow within your corporate PR job. Your experiences will be different than those you gain when you do freelance work. You can work in a number of different departments in a company, picking up different skills and overcoming obstacles.

While doing corporate PR work, you learn how to manage your time, balance and adapt to a rigid schedule, network with different colleagues and clients.

By working for an established company first you establish credibility and experience that you can apply in your freelance career.

“When you work for an employer, they teach you so much for free,” said Tracy Playle, CEO and founder of Pickle Jar Communications. “You learn by watching them and that’s how you grow. Later you can use those skills in your freelancing career, but you need a basis to start off with.”

Only through experience can you grow.

Many people have started their freelance journey while working their corporate job as to create a clientele base while still having the monthly paycheck. This is often time seen as the best place to start your freelancing career.

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