Company: Varro Creative
Position: freelance designer and photographer Employed: one year
Where did you go to school? What program did you attend? I'm a life-long learner so I've attended several programs. I graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology with a diploma in new media production and design, attended a post-graduate program in interactive multimedia at Sheridan College, and am currently working part time towards a Bachelor in communications at the University of Calgary.
What drew you to your current field? I always wanted to freelance. I come from a long line of business owners and it just seemed natural for me to become my own boss. I love having control over my schedule, income, and projects.
How did you find your current position? Freelancing kind of happened by accident. I left my full time job to travel for a few months and when I returned I took a few freelance jobs to tide me over until I decided what to do next. I ended up getting enough work that I never needed to go back to work full time and it’s been growing exponentially ever since.
Tell us a bit about your responsibilities. I'm a one-woman-show, so I meet with the potential clients, manage the project, handle the photography, design/develop the project and do all the admin work. It’s quite a varied way to work, always something new to do each day. The only thing I don’t do is the year-end accounting, but I handle all the invoicing the rest of the year.
What is the most challenging aspect of your position? The most challenging part is balancing everything that needs to get done. I often work longer hours than I did working at a full time job, and there are lots of ups and downs in how busy I am. I need to get all my work done each week but also make time to go to meetings and quote on new projects so I have work coming in the next week. It’s challenging to balance everything, but I'm getting better at it all the time.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Being able to control my own hours, take on the projects I'm interested in and turn down the ones I'm not. I also like the flexibility it gives me to continue expanding my skills and travel, which is very important to me. I can also work at the times of day when I'm most productive, which was hard to do at a 9-5 job.
What skills have you learned through your work experience? I have learned a lot about what it takes to run a business, in particular money management and time management. I've also learned how to write proposals and pitch on projects, which was something I didn't do much of when I was working at an agency.
What do you think it takes to be successful in this career? A wide skill set and a hard work ethic is essential. You need to be personable and professional when dealing with clients because offering good customer service is one of the best things you can do for your business. It also helps to have a network in the industry before going out on your own, most of my work now comes from people I met at my previous jobs.
Is there one accomplishment you are particularly proud of? Starting my own business and matching my full time income within my first year.
What are your future career aspirations? I would really like to hire an assistant this year to help me with some of the day-to-day tasks that eat up a lot of my time. In the future I'd like to get my own photography studio and move away from web design and more in the direction of photography, but my biggest goal is to double my current income over the next five years.
What advice do you have for students looking to land their first job? You have to be prepared for a lot of hard work to prove yourself when you are first starting out, always be as confident and professional as you can. Most of the time you land jobs through people you know, so take the time to network and get to know people in your industry. jp