This week we dive into how to be successful, even when life throws you a curveball (or a pandemic).
Have you ever hit it off with someone in a new class or lecture and ask yourself, how have I not met this person on campus before? That's exactly how I felt when I met @braelyndiamond in my junior year of college. We sat next to each other on our first day of class and it honestly felt like we had been friends forever. Fast forward to our senior year, I was so relieved when I found out we b0th had been accepted into the same scholar program (s/o to Martin Scholars), because I was no longer going into a new situation alone, I had my friend.
From then on, we went through some of our most challenging academic courses together, but we always managed to laugh and work through our struggles together.
She will never admit it, but @braelyndiamond is absolutely killing the game right now as a postgraduate freelance writer, so I wanted to pick her brain about how she got to this spot.
As our constant disclaimer, the Conversation Corner has one rule: it will always be real. No B.S., because quite frankly there is enough of that already on the internet.
So here we go...
DD: How has this time been different than you expected?
BD: "Never in a bazillion years did I imagine post-grad life would be like this! Before COVID, I had some interest in a few agencies in New York City and was pretty sure that was where I would be relocating after I graduated. Instead, I came back home to Columbia, SC, and I am currently living with my family again. It's been fine because I feel like everything happens for a reason, but I wasn’t expecting any of this. I thought for sure by now I’d be living in a new city, working at my first big girl job."
DD: What has been something positive that has come from this time?
BD: "I feel like this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. Even in my last semester, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do or what I was really passionate about. I just knew I wanted to live in NY. But this pandemic has given me, and I feel like a lot of other people, a chance to hit pause and reconnect with ourselves. I’ve been given time to think about what I'm really interested in and start working towards it. I guess that's been the silver lining."
DD: How did you end up doing freelance work?
BD: "Freelance kind of fell into my lap and I just ran with it. I wasn’t expecting to be doing this AT ALL. A previous company that I interned at started to send me a few pieces that they wanted me to write for them, and I thought, “If I can do this for them, I can be doing it for other people too.” After that, I started using my network and reaching out to people letting them know what I’d started doing and pitching myself to other potential clients."
DD: The best advice for someone who wants to start doing freelance work?
BD: "I don’t feel like I’m at the point to give out advice and pretend like I have all the answers because I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ve found that freelance isn’t for the faint of heart. Finding work is a job in itself, especially right now with so many cutting their contributor/freelance budget."
"BUT it’s not impossible."
"I think networking is key because a lot of the work that you get is based on who you know and who is willing to assign out work, which changes all the time. It’s also helpful to put together a portfolio that showcases some of your work and pitch yourself to people. It’s important to make those connections and just put yourself out there as much as you can! Sometimes to just get started, it might also be helpful to volunteer to work for free. When you do begin to charge, I would say to research the going rates for the type of freelance work that you’re interested in so that you don’t over or undercharge. Patience and consistency are key."
DD: What's your advice on networking and building connections?
BD: "Even before I began taking freelance more seriously, I was literally always on LinkedIn reaching out to people. I was a recent graduate in a very sh*tty job market. I was desperate to get as much advice on what I could be doing as possible. I think that’s so important because a lot of the people that I reached out to are now some of the people that I’ve been able to get more freelance opportunities through."
"As I mentioned before, put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to reach out. A lot of people are willing to talk right now, especially to recent grads because they feel bad for us lol. Overall, I think my biggest advice would be to reach out to people already in your network and let them know what you’re doing/ interested in and see if they can help. Or reach out to someone new and ask if they have about 15 mins for a quick phone call."
"Pro tip: after each convo, ask if they know of anyone else they can connect you with."
DD: Now for our final question of each interview, what now?
BD: "As of right now, I’m still just trying to navigate this crazy post-grad life of mine. I’m still looking for a full-time position while trying to continue to grow as a freelance writer. I’m also working on a blog so stay on the lookout for that! :)"
I think that there are so many pockets of wisdom within this conversation corner with @braelyndiamond, so I wanted to make an advice cheat sheet.
Everything happens for a reason.
Hit pause and reconnect with yourself.
Use your network and pitch yourself.
Networking is key!
Make a portfolio.
Volunteer for the experience.
Research your rate per hour.
Patience and consistency are key.
Put yourself out there, don't be afraid to reach out.
After each convo, ask if they know of anyone else they can connect you with.