No experience, no problem: how freelancing is transforming young professionals' options
min video //
min read //
August 15, 2022
Based in Iraq, Zahraa found it difficult as a woman to snag even a part-time job with no experience. She explained that most jobs require a degree and experience. And the jobs that didn't need a degree were mainly reserved for working men.
"I figured I'd either have to settle with not working and graduating with zero experience, or I have to start looking online and trying my luck at what I could find. And so that was the route that I took."
Zahraa's not alone. Ever since COVID 19 and the rise of remote work, freelancing has become more accessible worldwide. And over 80% of people surveyed reported increased demand for freelancers in the MENA region. The opportunity is hard to ignore, especially for young professionals looking to build experience and income.
Getting started with freelance work
But freelancing is like any skill, and it's one you have to learn and build. This is why we recently launched 'Intro to freelancing,' a new self-led course in our Inspire Series. Much like 'Master your job search,' another Inspire Series course, 'Intro to freelancing,' is designed to equip learners with the basic information, tools, and frameworks to kickstart your journey.
I would say this course is everything I wish I knew when I started.
Explained course writer and long-time freelancer, Zahraa. 'Intro to freelancing' was built by two freelancers and former classmates, Zahraa and Muntadher.
Both course creators initially started their freelance careers in Iraq and found challenges that often contradicted the freelancing advice found openly online. That's why they've developed 'Intro to freelancing' specifically for young professionals like them trying to get into freelancing in the MENA region.
How do you land your first job with no experience?
Like Zahraa's push to explore freelance work, Muntadher also experienced a similar issue, "I had experience in tech, and I felt that I knew a lot of stuff. But at the same time, I couldn't get a job. They required years of experience. And it required a real CV and a lot of stuff that, as a fresh student, I couldn't possibly have."
For both Zahraa and Muntadher, finding freelance contracts helped them get the experience they wanted before graduation. As it turns out, their foundational knowledge was enough to earn them their first freelance contracts, and they didn't need a whole CV of experience to start freelancing.
For Zahraa, this course is about building the confidence and courage to launch yourself into the freelance space. "The hardest thing is just getting started." Zahraa encourages, "Here are all the tools, and you're good to go."
Self-doubt is a complicated emotion to overcome, especially for prospective freelancers.
One of the biggest barriers that I faced was that I felt like I couldn't put myself out there. Who am I to put myself out there if everyone else is so amazing?
Muntadher found that a lot of the information for freelancers already out there was not always relevant to young professionals in the MENA region. And that's something he wanted to change for 'Intro to freelancing.'
When both he and Zahraa were launching their freelance careers, they found that many of the freelance job sites didn't operate in the MENA region, payment methods were unavailable for their countries, and demand for specific skills was lower regionally.
"We didn't just apply well-known advice to the MENA region," Muntadher explained, "We're sharing our personal experiences in the course."
"It's more aligned with the community's needs and abilities when freelancing."
Exciting futures ahead
Muntadher and Zahraa are excited to be able to share their experiences and empower another generation of freelancers in the MENA region. For many companies, remote work is here to stay, and even more have embraced a global freelance workforce. As a result, young professionals have new opportunities within only a few mouse clicks.
I would say no matter how experienced you are, just give it a try.