Broke College Kid to Freelancer in 8 Months

Broke College Kid to Freelancer in 8 Months

My story begins in July of 2017.

This was the point where I decided to give up my career in Software Engineering. I didn’t enjoy the field, and the hate for my work was causing all of the other aspects of my life to turn grey.

So one day, I just said: “I’m done.”

The decision felt good at first, but then I realized that now since I gave up computer science, I no career.

I was a college student studying for a degree that I wasn’t ever going to use. I had no plans for my future and literally no idea what I was going to do once I graduated, which turned out to be 2 semesters way.

So, I went into panic mode for about a couple of hours. It is kind of scary not knowing what is going to happen to you next.

Where you’ll end up? How you’ll eat? Was I going to be homeless?

All those questions ran through my head. But one thing about me is that whenever I get scared, I go into hustle mode.

I go all in trying to figure out the next steps and stop this fear from becoming my reality.

I knew I had to pick a field to go into because I needed a job when I graduated.

The list was endless of careers I could go into. But most of the careers I found didn’t interest me. So I scratched the entire list and started researching careers a different way.

Instead of choosing a career that I thought I might like, I chose the life that I knew I would like.

For me, the life I wanted was centered around freedom. Freedom to do what I want, when I wanted, how I wanted, without taking s*** from anybody.

I knew that freedom always comes with a price and wouldn’t be easy to attain. But I figured that it’d be just as hard as working 9 to 5 for a job I hated.

Deciding on a career that gave me this freedom wasn’t that hard actually. There were a lot fewer options to pick from, but I still found a lot more careers that I thought I’d actually enjoy.

What I ultimately decided on was something in the realm of digital marketing.

I had been running my own blog at the time and had learned a ton about digital marketing while trying to grow my social media and get traffic to my blog.

So digital marketing was something I was somewhat familiar with, but still had a lot to learn. I knew that in order to get a job I had to gain some more skills, but I didn’t just want to gain any skills.

I wanted to develop in-demand skills that I for sure knew companies would be looking for. In order to figure this out, I went to straight to the companies themselves.

Well not exactly.

I went on the job applications that companies were posted and wrote down skills that were commonly required for entry-level positions in Digital Marketing. I especially made note of the “preferred skills” section.

Those skills were the ones that companies really wanted, and I’d have a leg up if I had those skills.

After I figured out what skills companies actually wanted, then literally just start learning those skills. Online courses, books, blogs, YouTube channels. Just any platform that had knowledge about the skills that I was looking to develop.

I used those methods of learning the skills to learn valuable skills in digital marketing like Search Engine Optimization, Google AdWords, Copywriting, Social Media, etc.

I learned all of those skills on the internet. It wasn’t easy. Imagine doing all of this while being a full-time college student taking classes that you don’t care about and working a part-time job.

It wasn’t easy at all.

But going in, I knew it wasn’t going to be.

After I had learned all these different skills online, I knew I had to practice them somehow. I started out by just doing a small project using those skills. I think my first project was running successful Facebook ads to get traffic to my blog.

Broke College Kid to Freelancer in 8 Months

Over time, the size of my projects increased and I had used the large projects to build out a decent resume for myself.

Around this time, it was November 2017.

4 months after I had officially decided to give up my career. I was a little less worried though. I had developed some skills and was more confident in my decision.

Now, all I had to do was find some work.

I knew I still wasn’t good enough to get a full-time job, so I settled for an internship. I landed an internship with a small marketing agency in New York. I was a nice gig because I learned a ton from my boss while being able to work remotely.

After that 3-month internship, I felt more confident than ever. I knew I’d be able to get a job.

One day, though, a friend of mine was telling me about an internship he had for the upcoming summer with the Small Business and Technology Development Center downtown.

They provided free business consulting to local business in the area. I saw this an opportunity.

I’d learn so much about business and marketing from them, and it could help me get into the role as a business consultant . . . which was another career choice for me to attain the life I wanted.

Around that time I found out this hack about easily getting internships. If you work for free, companies and businesses are more likely to hire you.

So, I contacted the Small Business Center and told them that I’d work for free if they’d hire me. Turns out, my little hack worked. They told me to come in for an interview.

The interview wasn’t anything crazy. Most of it was me talking about all the projects I’ve accomplished. I cannot tell you how impressed they were. So impressed, that they just hired me on the spot.

This was the point where I realized that I could actually go places with this.

The internship was alright. I got to work with one business owner and help them with their online marketing strategies and web design. That was cool.

After working with them for a few weeks, I started to get a little bored. I wanted to do so much, but I couldn’t because I was just an intern. The fun work was saved for the full-time business consultants. They worked with clients regularly, while I was stuck with the same client.

That client wasn’t bad though, but I just felt that I wasn’t growing and developing as much as I wanted by working just went them.

That’s when I decided to go find my own clients.

I had literally no idea how to approach a business owner and get them to hire. I did a ton of research about it, but it wasn’t that helpful. Most of it just gave me templates of emails I could send business owners.

I tried that, but none of them responded. Then I tried calling them.

I looked up every business in the area, called them, and pitched them on my services. Most of the time I got rejected. But some of them were interested.

I met them in person and broke down what I could do for them.

2 of the business owners agreed to hire me from that. After I started working with them, I found out about this thing called Upwork. It’s an online freelancing platform.

Once I was added to the platform, I was able to start pitching and acquiring new clients. I was able to find 5 different clients from Upwork, while still having 2 local clients near my university.

So, 7 clients total!

I wasn’t making great money, but I was in control of my career. I didn’t have a boss, I just had myself.

I worked when I wanted, chilled when I wanted and was able to free myself from the fear of being homeless with no career.

Author: Tahj Gayfield

Tahj Gayfield is the founder of Internship Magnet. He has interviewed and worked at some of the worlds top companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. If you're tired of getting rejected by companies, grab his FREE internship toolkit here. and you'll have the internship offers literally rolling in. View all posts by Tahj Gayfield