While the summer is far from over, students may view preparing to work as a freelancer somewhat like preparing for a tough final. The truth is that the gig economy is much more forgiving than any mean professor and that students likely have all the skills they will need! Deciding to join the gig economy can seem much more daunting than it actually is, so instead we’ll break down some simple tips to help get prepared.

In terms of tangible checklist items to take care of, it’s important to make sure you have a bank account set up that you can handle on your own. If you haven’t had a chance to set up electronic banking, it’s important to do so before you start making money so that you can be prepared to work with clients. Additionally, if you have any projects that you would be happy to use in your portfolio, it’ll help speed things up if you have them gathered together in one place to be sent to potential future employers. Got social media? Make sure everything is professional where it is publicly identifiable and that your LinkedIn is up to date – these can be some important ways that people will ‘meet’ you virtually before they make an offer, so be sure to shine!

If you’re worried that you may not have the necessary skills to work gigs that are available, check out sites like Uplancer and Fiverr to see what other people are already doing! You may find a skill you already have or could easily learn. With so many free classes and software available, you may be able to make money on the side while learning a new skill. For example, programs like Autodesk SketchBook are free for students to use as long as they sign up with their university emails – these can be a great way to test the waters and profit from perks you are already eligible for!

The final key point in preparing for the gig economy is largely based in a shift in mindset. Working as a freelancer does mean that you will be parting with the stability in income, but this does not mean that you will necessarily struggle to find gigs. Instead of working a set amount of hours for a certain price, you can work as little or as much as you’d like. It’s important to keep in mind that finding the first few clients can take some time, but after the first few gigs roll in it’s easy to scale up your workload until you are making as much money as you’d like.

Additionally, working gigs will involve faith in yourself and your skills as you build business and market your skills. Knowing the value of your work, pricing appropriately, and finding a balance between working and school is critical! Trying to work tons of projects for a low price might make businesses willing to work with you, but it’s unsustainable to sell yourself short long-term. Keeping all of this in mind, hopefully you will feel more prepared to join the gig economy soon. Ready to jump in and get started? Check out uplancer.io or download the Uplancer app on the App Store!