This website uses cookies to ensure that you get the best experience. For more info, read our privacy policy. Find out more

Students: Is it a good idea to start freelancing while you’re still studying?


November 1, 2018

Through delivering self-employment workshops and events for students across the UK, I’m fortunate to work with a significant number of inspiring students and young freelancers. Whether they’re specialising in graphic design or environmental consultancy, web development or wine consulting; for many, it starts with a passion and simply wanting to do what they are both interested in and good at.

More and more young people are choosing to work for themselves. In fact, we’ve seen a huge 41% increase in the number of young people choosing to work freelance, either full-time or part-time alongside other work. Why is there an increase among young people? Students I work with tell me they want to be their own boss, they don’t want someone else to define their creativity, they want to choose the projects they work on and they want to control the pace of their career development.

Knowing when to start freelancing is always very much a personal decision. But when I ask freelancers what advice they would give to someone thinking of freelancing, the response ‘just go for it’ comes up time and time again.

But is it a good idea to start freelancing whilst still in education?

Finding freelance work whilst studying provides the opportunity for students to develop their skills and experience in their specialist area. Not only is it an opportunity to put their knowledge and skills directly into professional practice, but they build their business skills too. Starting freelancing whilst studying also puts young people professionally one step ahead by the time they’ve graduated.

As the saying goes ‘it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know’. Freelancing whilst studying provides the opportunity to build professional networks before leaving education. Whether connecting with professionals in your industry whom you can learn from, finding prospective clients for the future or meeting professional friends who know what you are going through – all networks have value.

Freelancing provides an income that fits around fluctuating study schedules. The academic year is full of peaks and troughs, which makes traditional employment a challenge whilst studying. Whereas, when you’re freelancing, you can reduce how much work you take on over busy study periods such as exams or choose to take on more work during quieter times like the summer break.

What is IPSE doing about it?

Even though we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of people choosing to work in a freelance capacity, still only 2% of self-employed professionals found out about this way of working at University, and only 2% found out about it whilst at school. IPSE has been working with universities across the UK to increase provision of self-employment education, to ensure young people are prepared and confident when choosing to work for themselves.

This story has been provided by one of Hoxby’s Partners, IPSE - The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.

Lydia Wakefield is the Deputy Head of Education and Training at IPSE - the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed. Working closely with colleges and universities across the UK, Lydia leads on the development of freelancing and self-employment education for students and young people. Lydia is also responsible for the development of continued training and professional development opportunities for self-employed professionals. Lydia has worked in education and training for over eight years, specialising in enabling academic and professional development.

What would you like to do?

Apply Support