Why do Millennials freelance?
My first foray into freelancing was when I was 22. At the time, I was learning to build financial models at a strategy consulting firm in New York. A few months into the job, I joined Inspire, a non-profit strategy consulting firm run entirely by junior analysts. The experience widened my perspective. The other analysts and I built our own case teams, sourced our own clients, and managed our own consulting projects. We were grateful for the opportunity to collaborate on meaningful work with people our age. As a big bonus, we honed management and strategy skills that we did not have many opportunities to develop in our day jobs.
If you keep tabs on the demographics of the ‘gig economy’, you’ll see that freelancing is more common among young people than it was a generation ago. A recent study estimated that participation in the independent workforce among 25–54 years olds jumped by 65% from 1995 to 2015. That increase is reflected in the numbers that we’ve seen at Skilltapp:
The biggest age bracket, Millennials, is as diverse a population as you can imagine. It’s diverse in terms of race, gender and geography, but also in terms of motivation, background and workstyle. Similar to my experience at Inspire, about half of the Millennial independent consultants we’ve spoken with are not primarily motivated by money. Instead, they are using freelancing as a tool to advance their career and personal growth:
Millennials we interviewed are also more likely to balance independent consulting with traditional jobs — about 40% are moonlighting or side-hustling. No doubt, the opportunity to build wealth in an economy of slow-growing wages is a plus for all independent consultants. But, for Millennials, even more so than for older consultants, the chance to assemble their own customized portfolios of meaningful work — separate and apart from assignments they receive in their traditional jobs — is an opportunity that they’re eager to grasp.