When Vibhav was laid off by a top IT consultancy in 2015, he felt that his entire world had collapsed. Since he didn’t want to disappoint his parents, he continued to leave the house with his bag and packed lunch.
“My parents were extremely proud of my job and the company that I was working for. My dad had worked in a bank all his life and while his earnings had been adequate, it had never been enough to give us a luxurious life. They had invested all their earnings into educating us kids. If I had told them, they’d have taken it very hard.”
After 4 months of unemployment and countless interviews, two truths emerged. One: the fact that he had been laid off worked against him. Two: his savings were running out. Out of sheer desperation, he ran a search for remote projects and came across a freelancing platform. Vibhav set up his profile and within the first week, he had bagged his first project.
Today, three years later Vibhav has a flourishing IT career. He has been able to move out of his parents’ home and says he’d never take up a corporate job, even if he had the option. “Freelancing has helped me pick up projects that excite me. My learning curve has been way steeper than it might have been on a corporate job. I am my own boss and I love it!”
Sheena Thomas was working as a Quality Control Officer for a leading pharmaceutical, when she conceived her first baby. “I worked through my pregnancy and joined back after maternity leave. I loved my job but I was guilt-ridden. I felt as though I was choosing my career over my baby. I wanted to be available for my child at least during the initial years but advancements in the pharma world are so rapid that I felt a few years away would set me back badly.”
A chance conversation with an ex-colleague led her to explore medical writing. “My pharma background and microbiology degree came in handy. Today, as a medical writer, I’m in touch with the latest developments and I hope to get back to the corporate world someday.”
Shamira Kunwal had always been passionate about photography but her family had discouraged her. “I needed my day job to pay back my MBA student loan. When I signed up with this freelancing platform, I wasn’t expecting an offer. I just wanted to know if my portfolio was good enough to attract enquiries. I was most surprised when it took off as it did. Once I am through with my loans, I intend to strike out on my own and see how I can combine my photography career and my MBA degree.”
Vibhav, Sheena and Shamira are just three among the estimated fifteen million freelancers in India. If surveys are to be believed, the timing for starting a freelance career in India has never been better. The Indian freelancing market is second only to the US and is predicted to have the fastest growing potential. According to one global survey, employers consider Indian freelancers to be the most hardworking and Indian freelancers garner some of the most positive reviews on freelancing platforms.
“Since I’ve started freelancing, I’ve found that the perception regarding freelancers is changing,” says Vibhav. “I had this notion that it was meant for the artsy people or for women who wanted some disposable income and not for those who were serious about their careers. I am amazed by how professional the whole set up today is with all these online platforms. While being paid on time can be a source of concern, if you sign up with a reputed platform, payment is guaranteed. If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting a freelance career, my advice would be to get a head start, maybe even while you are at a full time job and then transition out slowly.”
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*Names have been changed