One of these days my wife and I were talking about two young men close to us in their 20s and how lost they’re feeling regarding their career path. To protect their identity let us call them E. and A.
E. has already worked in IT for big multinationals like Danone and has decided he doesn’t want to work in the corporate world anymore, the pressure, the competitiveness, etc have not been appealing to him, but he doesn’t know what direction to take. Should he become a freelance teacher, a translator, a missionary? Meanwhile, A. has never worked – only studied and doesn’t know if he would like to follow the path of engineering he chose earlier since he’s never tasted it. So now he’s working as a delivery boy for a small restaurant during the week.
My wife said to me “Now I know how your brother must have felt when you said you were quitting your steady and well-paying job at a national bank to pursue your dream as a teacher” .
But differently from the two young men mentioned above I knew what I wanted AND didn’t want. I didn’t want to spend my days behind a desk. I wanted to be a teacher. And I needed to have an income right away… no daddy to send me monthly allowances.
In my naïveté I not even knew I could be a freelancing teacher. So, initially I looked for jobs at language schools. But over 20 years ago I saw the possibility of flying solo and earning my living as a freelance teacher. The benefits are:
- you develop your own career path and make more money, not having to give at least 50% of what your students pay to the language school.
- You choose where and when to work.
- You can fire those horrible students (it takes courage but your mental sanity is worth it)
- You can choose when you’re going away on vacation
- You get immediate feedback and know what works and doesn’t work.
- you must always be prospecting for new students
- No basic or fringe benefits – no health insurance, paid holidays, sick day leave, paternity leave (you know what I mean), or even no access to the company’s restroom – (yes, it’s true, damned the designers and architects of some corporate buildings which hide away the toilets and the enforcers of condo rules such as “no access to the toilet unless accompanied by your respective student)
But I chose this path and despite its highs and lows I wouldn’t have done it differently. I’ve been in charge of my professional destiny and I’m sure many other mortals have never been able to breathe outside their gilded cage.
I’m quite often reminded of this Bible verse which has been proven true to me over and over again. Psalm 37:25:
“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (King James Version)
My advice to you if you’re considering freelancing – jump into the water and go free, or tread slowly just freelancing a couple of hours a week and no matter where you land it will have been worth the risk.
Cheers and Happy Teaching,