What is it like to be a freelancer? What are their greatest struggles and their best tips? We interviewed Andreas Koch, one of our freelancers specializing in data science, machine learning, big data, and data-related software development, to find out more.
Andreas had worked in different roles for the Danish government for over 10 years, but decided he wanted to see something else, try new functions, and build experience in different organizations. He then took a job in a consultancy, but soon realized he could work as freelancer without feeling the pressure and stress that come from working in consulting. Plus, working on demand pushes him to keep learning, as he may need to acquire new skills for some projects, such as new technologies and methods.
“Freelancing is not only doing exactly what you are asked, but also understanding the context and seeing how the solution fits in the organization”. In some instances he proposed a different approach to his clients, based on his experience. “It’s not only about the hard skills, but I complement by consulting the clients on the course of action.”
Since he started being a freelancer, Andreas has also been lecturing within his field of expertise. To ensure he always has time to teach, he rarely takes up projects for which he has to work full-time. He usually works 4 days per week, so he can focus on his teaching.
“I also take smaller projects instead of long-term ones, so that I can keep experiencing different tasks in different organizations.”
“Corona has been very challenging, more challenging than if I had been employed.
When only working remotely I cannot come across the problems through informal conversations (such as at the coffee machine). This means I have a hard time identifying certain problems that my expertise could help solve.” Although some freelancers are always working remotely, this has not been working well for him, as he prefers an approach close to consulting, where he can observe the context where he operates and have face-to-face and informal communication.
“Something for which I could use my expertise, for example, an organization that has a lot of data available but does not really know how to get value from it. It would be a project in which I could make a big difference with a small effort, as I would fully use my experience and expertise to help.”
A freelancer must be good at what they are doing. “Be clear about your profile, don’t juggle many skills you are only okay at. Decide on what you love doing and go for that, do not fear you won’t get enough projects.”