Skills to Acquire at a B-School to Thrive in the ongoing Gig Economy

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019


Skills to Acquire at a B-School to Thrive in the ongoing Gig Economy

There was a time when a job was something one would get in for life. Even if one would change jobs a few times, the target would be to remain loyal to one firm for as long as possible. Even the changes would be within the sector. Then we witnessed the period when options increased, so it was easier for people to move jobs. Now, we have moved on to yet another stage of employment trends, where people continue to remain loyal to companies, but not just to one at a time. The entire ecosystem is known as the Gig Economy.

The term gig economy originates from rock bands and their guitarists, many of whom constantly changed their bands because it wasn’t financially feasible to remain at one throughout. They would merely be renting out their guitar playing skills to whoever needs the most. Now, this is a common trend for all kinds of workers. The entire entourage includes freelancers, part-time workers, and contractual employees. Blue collared workers were the first to en masse become a part of this gig economy. The Economic Recession of the previous decade ushered in a lot of joblessness and time on people’s hands. This otherwise fallow period also saw the birth of the smartphone, allowing millions of ordinary citizens the power of the internet on their palms.

The lower level of disposable income, plus the power of the smartphone, conspired to place massive leverage to cab hailing services such as Uber, Lyft and Hailo. This heralded the mass migration of cab drivers from their fulltime positions to being part-time Uber drivers. The trend soon caught up among the white-collared professionals. Now, there are millions of highly educated engineers, coders, architects, designers, lawyers and content writers who out of their own choice, choose not to work for a single employer. This allows them complete flexibility towards their personal lives, while also giving them the impetus to try out creative tasks.

There are different kinds of freelancers. There are some who move from one assignment to the next. There are others who juggle their part-time duties to supplement their incomes from a full- time job. Yet others are involved in a series of part-time jobs simultaneously, though usually not with rivals in the same segment. The numbers are swelling. As per a study by freelancing job portal Upwork, there are a staggering 57 million freelancers in the US job market alone. This makes up 36% of the total workforce and about half of the millennials employed. The trend is here to stay.

Of course, not all succeed at this. There are several cases of those who failed. There are also cases of those who instead went for full-fledged entrepreneurship and did better. In no way does this article recommend people to opt for freelancing positions. But since this is now such a common trend, students entering management institutions, need to know the skills they will need to acquire beforehand, that will give them an edge. These skills will prove to be extremely handy in the ongoing gig economy, even if the students at first go for a full- time job.

Following are some of the skills that will help students to acquire at a B school, so they may thrive later on in case they opt to be freelancers:

Networking

This, of course, is a skill even for those opting for full- time positions, especially in marketing or sales. But there are some full- time positions where one can live the life of a hermit. Not possible when one is a freelancer, as the professional would constantly need to interact with others. He/ she will need to maintain proactive relations with clients and customers, while also having to develop new relations to generate newer opportunities.

Stability

Job- hopping is not advised under any mode. But even more so for freelancers, as one is already managing multiple clients, so no need for further stress. Even if payments could be marginally higher with a direct rival, it is advisable for a freelancer to stick to a position for longer. As no one particular assignment or employer is now responsible for the complete income, one need not jump ship with each offer of incrementally higher payments. Of course, like other modes, this may not apply if the rival offers substantially more or a far better profile.

Sincerity

It is often suggested that one starts off with a full- time job, so the pro can test himself/ herself in a number of situations. This will help forge a broader understanding of the business, otherwise, the gig worker will merely remain an artist in one small area. Sincerity needs to be shown in all walks of life, but even more so for a freelancer. This is because technically, one could be replaced at almost any time.

Expertise

Developing expertise in at least some area will be a top concern. This will not happen overnight and needs experience, plus further study. But once, a person has done enough and proved oneself, he/ she will keep getting piled up with more number of assignments.

Multitasking

A freelancer needs to wear multiple hats at one go. He/ she is one’s accountant, legal expert, business development officer, communications expert, content creator and executive of the task concerned. In case of any physical requirements for some projects, the freelancer will also need to take care of tangible assets like a projector, laptops, chairs, coffee machines, printers and so on. This all- in- one attitude needs to be built right from the start, without compromising on the quality in the prime task

Hobbies

Whatever the circumstances, and however well one does, there will be fallow times. This fallow time will not appear wasted, if the person concerned utilizes the time, in pursuing one’s latent hobbies and interests. So, it will be desirable if he/ she develops some proactive hobbies right from the start. If nurtured properly who knows, these too could someday lead to, business opportunities.

One more trait needed will be patience and a lot of it. Most people, especially the older folk still do not understand freelancing. Most will have the understanding that one did not get a full- time job, so opted for this path. But one cannot give way at such moments. Take things on one’s chin and keep creating value. Freelancing is indeed the future of the economy. It is also good for the planet, as the travel time and fuel burnt reduces substantially, with a lot of work being done from home. Companies are now developing proper policies to make the best use of such external talent. As long as one has a laptop with internet, a freelancer can make money and create value from anywhere in the world, even while on holiday.

You can also see: How to develop a reading habit to boost your CAT score?

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One response to “Skills to Acquire at a B-School to Thrive in the ongoing Gig Economy”

  1. Anik Biswas says:

    This is a great article. I work as a contractor and I can totally understand the need for such a piece.

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