Freelance vs Corporate: The Best & Worst Case Scenarios
I'd like to believe I make freelancing look attractive. Whenever a friend comes up to me and says she wants to freelance, I hold myself responsible. All the same, I will also be the first to say that freelancing isn’t for everyone—but then so is corporate life.
A back story: I worked in a public relations agency for five years, moved on to a media corporation and stayed for less than a year, before I finally decided to work on my own. It's been about two years since. Although what I've learned so far isn't exactly ground-breaking, I decided to map out the differences of both worlds below in case you’re curious.
KEEPING UP WITH CORPORATE LIFE
To last in a corporate setting and absolutely reap its rewards (read: a covetable retirement package), it’s highly recommended that you find a job you like and are good at. It’s essential that you find a company and office culture that’s to your liking, so you’ll fit right in. Hopefully, you’ll stay long, climb up the corporate ladder (without injuries!), and successfully make a name for yourself.
Personally, I left my office jobs because I simply didn’t see myself growing in the companies I were in anymore. All the same, I don’t regret what I’ve learned from these experiences. A corporate job introduces you to the benefits of a structure, and one that’s been developed following years of experience and assessment. And while you may hate its strict implementations, you’ll soon realize why it’s efficient or essential to work within a system of sorts.
Off-hand, working in an office and with colleagues I see on the daily taught me many things. For one, I learned that meeting deadlines and being on time are more than a reflection of your habits, but a gesture of respect for others’ time, too.
Respect also comes in the form of arriving to meetings prepared and dressed appropriately. Personally, it took me long to master the proper way to express myself in the way I dress, without offending anyone (e.g. I realized that there are clients who can’t take a good print-on-print!).
Working in an office setting also made me (inevitably) considerate of others, be conscious of the fact that they have their own lives, time, and schedule, and to be extra mindful of what I say and how I act, primarily because I am dealing with persons from different walks of life. I learned to sip drinks slowly at office-sanctioned events so I don’t end up tipsy and eventually embarrass myself, politely deal with colleagues I don’t exactly agree with, and veer away from unnecessary drama that may be harmful to my health.
FEELING THE FREELANCE LIFE
Freelancing sounds amazing on paper and on Instagram, primarily due to the overrated myth of “having your own free time”. Technically, that’s the truth; but essentially, it can only really be beneficial to you if you’re a pro at managing your time, your energy, and your moods. Otherwise, you’ll only make a mess of yourself freelancing.
It takes discipline and consistent self-control to survive the freelance race, but the rewards are worth it. When you’re working on your own, you have more leeway to say no to difficult clients, partners, and teams. While you can’t keep avoiding the bad ones forever, you have a bit more freedom to choose whose quirks you can handle.
Because I’ve been a relatively good student all my life (occasionally on the Outstanding Student’s and Dean’s Lists), I always thought of myself as an organized, well-disciplined, and dependable person. Freelance life revealed I wasn’t.
Picture it this way: outside the four walls of a freezing office, what can you do? It’s so tempting to shop, have brunch, and watch a local movie. You see, the challenge really comes in how you master self-discipline and not let distractions get the better of you.
So far, though, while it’s all an ongoing progress, I am thankful for this freelance life because it made me realize my values and the principles I can’t ever give up. It taught me to look after myself because no one else will. I am also slowly learning how to say a resounding ‘yes’ and a regretful but firm ‘no’ and go with what I truly want.
On the whole, I wouldn't say one works better than the other. It really depends on your goals at the moment. However, I strongly recommend that you experience both for at least a significant number of years. Today, I take pride in the fact that I’ve experienced agency life, thanks to my office job; and at the same time, I'm thankful to be in an industry that allows a writer like me to thrive in a flexible set up.
What about you? What are your thoughts?