Unfortunately, I am here to tell you that students don’t instantly become more respected either once they graduate. It is hard to earn the respect you deserve when society doesn’t place as much importance of student and young people’s achievements and motivations as they do to those in careers that require them to be there from 9-5.
While this fact isn’t meant to discourage student freelancers and young professionals, it is an unfortunate fact of life that I think many people our age struggle with today. With that being said, in what ways can students earn the respect that they should from their fellow peers, friends and family, and the others around them?
There are only a handful of people in the professional world that can act like jerks and be disrespectful and still be seen as “professional.” While I don’t think anyone reading this post is one of them, student freelancers and young professionals alike can gain the respect of those around them by simply acting professional.
Even though you are just going to class, take pride in the way you present yourself to those around you. Get up early enough in the mornings to shower and dress appropriately. I don’t mean a suit and tie, but you can put on clean pants and a nice shirt, and dress presentably. This was probably the number one thing in school that instantly gained my respect when it came to my fellow classmates. When they took the time to come to class prepared and well-presented, I took them more seriously and respected them more.
It’s not only the way you present yourself on the outside that is important, it is also the way you conduct yourself that is just as important. Yes, you are in college and yes, you are supposed to have fun. I’m not saying that you should stop these things, but you should conduct yourself in a manner that if a prospective client was watching you, would they be turned-off by your actions or what you are saying, or be intrigued and want to know more about you? You don’t know who is around you at any time who could be your next client.
Help your fellow classmates
It’s one thing to talk to talk, but can you walk the walk? For student freelancers who are designers, are you well versed in software that your fellow classmates are just now learning? If you see a classmate struggling, give them a helping hand. Ask them if you can help them with whatever task they are struggling with.
Be careful, however, that you don’t appear to be a “know-it-all.” Approach a fellow classmate who needs help in a manner that puts both of you on the same level – a classmate helping another classmate. Staying humble and helpful not only can gain respect in your skills, but it also shows that you are interested in others’ successes as well.
Show how much you care about your freelance business
This covers various things, but you should care about your freelancing just as much as a business owner cares about their business that puts food on their table. While freelancing and having an open schedule of when you do work is great, having structure in your work schedule can show your family and friends that you take your freelancing seriously enough to dedicate a set amount of hours to it every week.
Simple things such as not working in your pajamas, not letting yourself fall behind in client work, being very professional on the phone when you talk to clients, and waking up early and at the same time every day can help gain respect of those you live with. When they see you taking yourself and your business seriously, they will start to show you more respect in what you have chosen to earn a living at.
While it appears easier for those in a 9-5 to gain the respect of those around them when it comes to their careers, students and young professionals often have to work a little harder to gain the same respect when they are working from home and in their own schedule. Unfortunately with age and student status playing a large factor in respect given and earned in today’s world, student freelancers can do simple things to help them gain the respect from their friends, family, and peers and be taken more seriously as a professional even though they are still obtaining their degrees.