Employment options for a changing world
2024/01/03 | By Estella Myers | Photo by Estella Myers
Contract vs. freelance
The recent COVID-19 pandemic forced many people into leaving their jobs and pursuing new careers entirely, searching for something with flexible hours and remote options, and freelancing suddenly took on a whole new identity. In ACCESS Magazine’s first Face2Face feature, ESTELLA MYERS spoke with two professionals who have chosen very different ways of approaching their professions.
Marta Lubary is from Barcelona and has been living in the Netherlands for the past 20 years, she has a degree in chemical engineering as well as a Ph.D. from the Delft University. She lives with her husband and two sons in Rijswijk.
EM: How did you choose the Netherlands as a work destination?
ML: After my internship in the Netherlands, I continued my studies at Delft University and did my post-graduate study Ph.D. there. At first, my career was starting to look like I would be focusing more on the academic route, but I decided to look for a job in the industry here.
EM: Did you find it easier getting a contracted position as opposed to going freelance?
ML: I never really considered becoming a freelancer, so the process of getting a contract for the position was just the way it went.
EM: And now, post-pandemic, and in a society where there are more and more people finding success in freelancing, is that something that you might be interested in?
ML: I could. I think for these past years having stable income and consistency was really important for me, also because we were building a family. Becoming a freelancer at some point is definitely not off the table.
EM: What would you say are the top benefits of being a contracted employee?
ML: Definitely stability; salary, benefits, pension, that kind of thing. And when I come home from work, time belongs to me and my family; I’m not sure that’s always the case when you’re a freelancer.
EM: Do you ever have an occasion to work with freelancers?
ML: At the moment I’m managing a team, so for example when there is too much work for us to handle with the permanent staff, we farm out assignments to freelancers through an agency that handles finding qualified people for us.
EM: What’s your final take on contract vs. freelancing?
ML: I prefer having the stability as a contracted employee, though I acknowledge the freedom that comes with freelancing. But for now, I’ll take the guaranteed pay check at the end of the month!
Soreh Milchtein works as a freelance writer, editor translator and virtual assistant through her company sorehwrites.com. She grew up in Wisconsin and lived in New York City before moving to the Netherlands five years ago. She lives with her Dutch partner in a small city minutes away from the idyllic Dutch countryside.
EM: To begin, could you state what you do as a freelancer…
SM: In short, I write for my blog as well as write and edit for clients; I do remote work as a virtual assistant, and I’m a Dutch to English translator.
EM: What’s your blog about and how you reach people?
SM: My blog is called Scribble a Dream, where I write about my life in the Netherlands, travel tips and experiences, personal finance, daily life things, and so on.
EM: What are some specifics about what a freelance writer does? What sort of jobs do you take on?
SM: I write blog posts for people, assist with CVs so they fit into the parameters of the Dutch job market; and I write job vacancies for companies as well as general interest articles.
EM: When was a moment that you started to feel like you were gaining traction as a freelancer?
SM: I’ve been a full-time freelancer for the last two years and I’ve felt more traction during months that are busy and I feel like those are becoming more consistent. But, the reality of being a freelancer is that sometimes you have busy periods and sometimes you have slow periods. I’m in a place where it’s not totally consistent yet and that’s okay.
EM: Can you talk more about what kind of support you had along the way?
SM: My sister has a large social media following, so she coached me early on. I’m also very grateful for my partner’s family, who has helped me navigate business life here in the Netherlands. It’s much different than in the US, so I feel lucky to have people who can guide me through these processes.
EM: Finally, what advice do you have for people thinking about freelancing?
SM: You have to put yourself out there and have a presence on social media. And you have to be patient, put in the effort, learn from your mistakes, and things will grow. This isn’t a get-rich-quick option, so definitely don’t go into it thinking it is.
About the author
Estella Myers is an American-born photographer and child care practitioner.
She earned a BS in elementary education from the University of Maine and has lived in The Hague since 2020. She started her company, Myers Photography, in 2021 and specializes in landscape, portrait, and event photography.