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The Return of the Freelance Economist

A few weeks back, we posted a query from a young economist who, before heading for the job market, was looking to pick up  freelance work. She (yes, she) promised to report back with her progress, and now she has:

Thank you for posting my email. I received a decent handful of responses, but was not flooded with emails. I did get one big project that I am very excited about and will carry me through to the job market, so it worked out very well for me, but is probably not a good career strategy. I had no idea what to charge, so started with the rate I would have received from the employer that didn’t work out, which was clearly too high. I tried to make it clear that it was negotiable, but fear I may have scared off a few people.

Many of the emails I received were from people who liked the idea of a freelance economist, but didn’t have anything specific in mind. Others expected I would have computer science skills I simply don’t have (C++ or Java). From the blog comments, there were suggestions that I needed more experience/expertise and some rebranding (as a small business consultant maybe) to actually make this work long-term. I completely agree. I hope that will not be necessary.

A couple other random observations:

I thought the mix of industries was interesting. I saw video games, consumer finance, real estate, a technology start up, landscaping, and veterinary medicine.

Unsurprisingly, given the gender ratio of economists, most people assumed I was male (I’m not).

The blog comments contained some links to other interesting things for economists to do with their free time: Pro Bono Economics and Kaggle (both of which I need to check out more).

Thanks Again,
Freelance Economist