Entering the world of work can be a culture shock for many graduates. There is a huge range of graduate-seeking employers out there, but the choice can be bewildering.

In a lot of cases, you may have to start at the bottom, running errands and making the tea, before you get a chance to establish yourself in the industry of your choice, but there is an alternative.

Many graduates are choosing to go freelance at the start of their career. The benefits are obvious. It gives you a lot of flexibility and allows you to tailor your working location, hours and style to your own needs. You decide what work you take on and how much of it, and there is no limit on your earnings.

A spell as a freelancer also looks good on your CV and helps you build up a wide network of contacts while making a name for yourself in your chosen field.

Freelancers work in many sectors; in fact, pretty much any of the industries that regularly recruit graduates offer opportunities for the resourceful and hardworking freelancer.

Writing and translating is the most accessible kind of freelancing, mainly because of the range of opportunities out there, from product descriptions and advertising material to full-blown articles and E-books.

Graphic design can be tougher to get into, as you will need to have access to the best software in order to produce work of a high enough standard, but there is still scope for the ambitious freelance graphic designer to establish themselves.

Another great area for freelancers is programming and IT. A freelancer programmer can end up working on a range of projects, from setting up websites to helping companies with SEO (search engine optimisation).

There are some things to bear in mind before going freelance. There will be a lot of paperwork to deal with, including tax details, invoices and accounts, so many freelancers take up the option of using an umbrella company.

An umbrella company acts as an intermediary between you and your clients, and handles all of the paperwork. An umbrella company can also help to ensure that you get to keep more of your own money by making sure that you only pay tax on the net income that you earn. You will also need to build up a portfolio of work to show to potential clients, and work out how much you are going to charge for your services. This means finding the right balance between an income that is going to be sufficient to support you and meet your expenses, whilst still being competitive enough to get business. Once you’ve worked out what you’re going to charge, you are ready to get out there and find clients. This will involve a lot of internet searching and diligently chasing up leads, but if you are consistent and business-like in your approach, you will find that being a freelancer is a rewarding and enjoyable way to work.

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Jazz Panesar is a Digital and Technology Apprentice at Severn Trent. Read Jazz’s story here.

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