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Entrepreneur Diaries: More than just money


Operations consultant Adnan Karimjee talks about the benefits of working for free

September 1, 2013 12:04 by

Some time ago, I was approached by a friend to give advice to someone embarking on a career in freelance consultancy work.

He had struggled to get his foot in the door and I got the impression he was not entirely sure what road to take next. It might sound strange, but it is quite a brilliant place to be, as it gives you the ability to shape your path and environment.

That being said, you need to keep yourself busy and get work that can ultimately help you progress in your career – even if that means working on some projects for free.

Working for free – especially in the current market – has become the norm as jobs and projects still remain fairly scarce. However, that does not mean that you should take on any job offered to you. Although you are not getting paid, there are still several benefits you can reap from the experience.

Building up your contacts
You should try and take on a free project in a field that you either want to expand further into or have the opportunity to meet people who can help develop your career. As the old saying goes: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

Better access
Some projects will help you gain access to exclusive events or expensive items for free. You may not get to submerge yourself completely in the event, but that should not stop you from networking and meeting new people. Also, at such events, top-end speakers are hired, from this you can gain more insight and hear firsthand about trending topics from industry experts.

Learning new skills
Don’t be afraid to take on projects that you have little experience in or are outside your comfort zone. The client will most likely give you a helping hand and, as you are not being paid, you do have that safety net of lower expectations. That being said, do not take on a project that you are completely clueless about, as that will impair your reputation for paid work in the future.

Padding up your CV
If nothing else, having something to show on your CV will hold a lot more weight (even if you didn’t get paid) than having a blank space. This will show a future employer that you were driven enough to follow your passion, with or without the motivation of money.

Loving what you do
To quote an old phrase: “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. But always make sure that you have your basic financial bases covered otherwise even your dream project will be a struggle.


By Adnan Karimjee, operations consultant with an extreme passion for startups.

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