Freelancer of the month – Edition AUGUST
Freelancer of the month
Stijn Willems – August
Hi Stijn! Thank you for doing this interview with us. First of all, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Hi! I’m Stijn Willems and I’m working for Proximus as a freelancer since 2016. I’m working as an IT consultant on the Wireless team.
Why did you become a freelancer in the first place?
When I was working at Proximus as an internal consultant, my project came to an end. At that moment I needed to make a choice, either Proximus would put me in a different team or I would go working as a freelancer for them on another project.
Do you have as many chances as a freelancer within a company?
There is a big difference between an internal consultant and a freelancer because often fixed employees feel more involved and protected. I’m very grateful to Proximus because I didn’t lose my project in these turbulent times. Lots of freelancer colleagues had their projects being terminated because of the cuts companies had to make due to COVID-19. At Proximus, freelancers get equal chances like internal consultants and feel treated in the same way. I never had the feeling that Proximus put their own workers first.
If you would make the choice again whether or not to become a freelancer, what would you do?
Without hesitation, I would do it again. I used the first years as a consultant to figure out what exactly I wanted to do in my life. This way I gained a lot of experience that was very useful when I started as a freelancer. Many companies expect that you can work independently and that you know what you are doing. They don’t want to have to hold your hand throughout your project. I would not recommend becoming a freelancer right after your studies as you will have a lack of experience. I’m convinced that being a freelancer is an excellent intermediate step towards an own company.
How would you describe your daily life pattern? Is your work-life balance better as a freelancer?
If you work in the IT-industry like me, it is very common to work before or after hours. As a freelancer, I notice that I take the lead more often and I offer to help out a lot faster than before. I also take less vacation than when I was a consultant, even though I can take more vacation now as a freelancer. In that way, my work-life balance is slightly out of balance. However, when you’re motivated to accomplish your projects, you’re less limited as a freelancer to work more and still get rewarded for the work you do. Besides that, I’m really happy with what I do now. Maybe I work a little harder than a couple of years ago, but this way I can work on my own terms and conditions while figuring out what more I want to accomplish in my life.
I’m convinced that being a freelancer is an excellent intermediate step towards an own company.
What is the biggest challenge while being a freelancer?
Uncertainty. If you work for a long time on a project, you will lose some knowledge you had on other topics. I am working on a wireless project for over 4 years now. Sometimes, I worry about the time when I have to go look for a new job, knowing I may need to follow new courses. At the moment I try to work together with different teams in Proximus so that I don’t lose too much knowledge. I don’t have the time to follow new trainings after work since I have a family. I’m happy as a freelancer but I don’t think your family should suffer because of that choice.
Do you have issues with setting your rates?
No, not really. I have received a couple of raises during recent years, but I think you can’t ask for a promotion too often. You need to deserve a raise. Lots of freelancer colleagues have a higher day-rate then me, but they have less certainty to keep their project. I deliberately choose for more certainty, especially because of the rare times we are having now.
Which role did Lancr and Ausy play in your professional career so far?
As a freelancer, you’re never alone thanks to Ausy. I know that if I would lose my job tomorrow, Ausy would help me to find a new project. They take some uncertainty that you have as a freelancer away by standing behind you.
Through the Indipendi (which is a Lancr product) app, I can enjoy multiple benefits especially made available for freelancers. They also send out invitations for certain network events. This way, they try to involve the freelancers as much as they involve intern workers. I already purchased my car through a similar app made by Lancr and I am also considering to switch to the Lancr fuel card.