Independence and Opportunity: The Story of One Freelancer

By Inna Lubynets, Team Lead, Making Cents International

A decade ago, most young people were looking for traditional jobs in their 20s, but the world we live in has changed. A 2020 Mastercard study on the gig economy predicts that in 2023 it will reach $298 billion in gross volume. The USAID Ukraine National Identity Through Youth (UNITY) activity is preparing young people to rise to the challenge. At 26, Khrystyna is one of those young people.

Khrystyna aspired to be a teacher since she was young. While at university, she volunteered as a tutor for Caritas and Window on America. Her time with these programs helped to solidify the career path Khrystyna wanted to take. After graduating, she tried working for various language schools, but could not find the right fit. She decided that she would have more opportunities and benefits as a freelancer and owner of her own business. Becoming a freelancer was a better choice for Khrystyna because “working for someone else, you rarely meet a manager or organization with the same views, values, and goals.” As a freelancer she can make all the decisions, build her own growth strategy, and be personally responsible for her chosen paths.

She named her company “Interactive English,” and, in 4 years, she built a loyal client base with students from various countries, ages, and professions; developed her teaching methodology; and was earning a stable income.

Things were going well, but Khrystyna was not without worry. Her greatest concerns were being solely responsible for everything and that clients could refuse services at any time for any reason. When the war began, her worries increased. Everyone’s main concern was survival, not learning a new language. She was not sure if she could keep her company going.

To her surprise, most people did not cancel their classes. Khrystyna’s classes served as an opportunity for them to disconnect from their harsh reality and helped them to hold on to the belief that there would be a future where knowledge would still be necessary. So, Khrystyna adapted to this new environment. Blackouts were a major challenge because Khrystyna held most classes online. “We had to adjust to the blackout schedule to conduct online lessons at that time,” she notes.

Eventually, Khrystyna heard about and registered for UNITY’s Tisto project. Tisto consisted of a series of webinars and an online conference aimed at tackling the challenges young people face when deciding to engage in the gig economy and freelance work. The online conference stood out the most to her, especially the presentations on organizing your work as a freelancer, design thinking, and artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Tisto pushed her to set clear priorities and goals for the near future and explore ways she can flex her current activities.

Khrystyna is now experimenting with AI tools she learned about at the conference, improving her teaching methodology and relevance to younger populations. She also plans to obtain a CELTA teaching certification, as it is the world’s most widely recognized English teaching qualification.

For Khrystyna, becoming a freelancer was a big step into the world of independence and freedom of choice. The support she received through UNITY enhanced her ability to keep her company strong for the future. Khrystyna advises those who want to become freelancers not to be afraid of the challenge, be

persistent, believe in their abilities, and continuously learn. She also says to look for and participate in events that share the latest information in the freelancing world, as that is what helped her to succeed.