Value is an abstract concept. It can be something physical, such as money, something conceptual, or even emotional. It is not something that can be accurately measured by numbers. Even money has a different value to different people. 100€ can be a lot of money to a student who has no stable income, but it isn’t to someone who is in a higher pay grade.
Value always depends on the person who is valuing.
I’ve come across people from different academic backgrounds, typically ending studies, or in an early phase of their career, who complain about two things:
“How can a company not value my education enough to offer a paid internship? Why do I need to work for free?”
This came from a post of a final year economy student. She even continued saying: “I thought the name of my university would help me find a good job”.
There are several things we should think about here:
First, we are talking about a curricular internship. It’s a first job after all. You will most of your time learning how to do the job since at the university you learn the theory but hardly work hand-on. You are not there to bring value to the company. You are there to learn. If you are in a good company, by the end of your internship, they either offer you a real job, which is obviously paid, or you will have a good stamp in your CV, which will help you get a better job due to the experience you acquired in your curricular internship.
Second, no. It’s not the university you went to that will help you find a job. It’s the skills you gained. Or even better, the skills you can prove to have. The name of your school and the name of your degree are not big of a seller. That’s why an internship is so good. Because it boosts both your experience and your resumé. Even if you are not paid for it.
“Some people without any design education are practicing ridiculously low prices. This is harming designers who have studied years for this!”
This one happened in a freelancer event I attended. She also went forward saying that she couldn’t charge the same amount of money to a small business (such as a hairdresser) as she charged to a big bank.
So, first of all, as I mentioned above, a customer doesn’t care about what your education is. A customer cares about having his/her work done, with quality, for the lowest price. Period. If a kid with a laptop can fulfill the customer’s needs with a small portion of the lowest service in your price table, either you’re actually practicing too high prices, or you need to adapt the service you are offering to the needs of the client.
Maybe he doesn’t need so many things that you are offering. Maybe he just needs a logo to put on his website. At least for now. Maybe in the future, he will need more. And at that time, he will come for your services.
If people can learn what you do without higher education, you have the obligation to be one step forward and adapt to that reality, but most of all, adapt to the needs of your client. If he doesn’t want to pay that much, maybe he doesn’t need it that much and will be happy with lower service.
What do these two stories have in common?
Both of these stories come from people who feel that their work is not valued enough. The first one thought that the fact that she went to a certain university would automatically put every company out there looking for her, even without any experience. The second one felt that people should pay her more than a kid in his free time because she spent years studying the subject.
The economy needs several areas to work. However, not every business will have the same needs. Look for the people that are looking for a profile similar to yours.
Let me tell you the tale of the family clock…
When the grandfather of a kid (let’s call him Brian) passed away, his father offered a small clock, which was a family heirloom.
“Go to the restaurant and ask how much do they offer for it.”
Brian went, and the owner of the restaurant offered 10€.
“They just offered 10€. This has no value”
His father then asked him.
“Go to the pawnshop. See if they offer anything more”
Off he went. Sure that he was wasting his time and not understanding what was happening. When arrived, the owner of the pawnshop offered 20€. He went back and told the result to his father. It was better, but still not a value worth the trouble. Finally, his father asked him:
“Go to the museum and see what they say”
The museum? Why would they want this piece of garbage? Brian was certain that he was wasting his time and that he would be thrown out of the door.
When he reached the museum, one relic expert analyzed the clock and then he said:
“This clock is a limited version Rolex from the time of the Second World War. It could be worth more than 60 000€!”
Know your own value. Look for people who need those skills. If there is no match, walk away and find someone who needs you. Learn to look where you can find people who value your skills.
And don’t forget to keep adding value to yourself. Understand how you can evolve into a better professional and add value to your work.
Sell your work. Be proud of what you’ve done and accomplished. Use those things to earn clients. Your competition surely will, and nobody will do it for you.
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