On my last day of my masters’ degree a professor told me “at some point you need to stop working for free”. I juggled three internships during this last semester (some time was towards a capstone unit), an actual paying part time job and coursework requirements. Working in my field and getting paid still seems a long way off.
My professor shared his experience, citing the fact that he had only recently stopped taking free projects. He completed a PhD and has worked in the film/media industry for a decade and realizes he will get a lot less work now that he requires commission.
In creative industries it becomes commonplace to work for less than nothing. You put your blood, sweat and tears into everything you do. People expect you to work for free. As a new grad, the easiest way to gain exposure and experience is through unpaid internships and work on free projects. This is especially true because most jobs, even graduate positions, seem to require years of experience.
For me, I personally feel my portfolio and experience isn’t yet ready enough to demand compensation for everything I do. Nor do I think the last 6 years of university alone prepared me enough for the real world. I have put everything I can into knowing every software, hardware and area in the fields I wish to pursue. I never want to be just one thing, especially since it seems like everyone is multitalented.
It is a very personal choice when to stop working for free. The thing I do know is that I will personally never stop learning new skills and bettering myself. If that means I continue working for free sometimes then hopefully I don’t end up living out of my car.
When after #graduation should you stop working for free?
Originally posted on my LinkedIn!