Why I do a lot of unpaid work


A lot of the side work I do outside from my QUT job and Levi’s job ISN’T paid work. I am a final year university student and honestly (even if i do say so myself) I am extremely proud of all the things I have accomplished outside of my studies. I look back at when I first started uni. Back to the days when I was confused about what I wanted to become. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my family was trying to force some of their advice on what I should study -they meant well though but I just didn’t see their vision for my life happening.

It was a difficult time because while I knew for sure what I didn’t want to study, I had no clear idea of what I did want to study. Whatever I ended up choosing, I knew I had to work twice as hard to avoid the “but we told you to study something else” comments. I found a degree that I liked and I rolled with it. I did however make a few changes to it and decided to study a double degree. I also changed my majors and well now I am counting down till I finish. It’s been a long time coming.

So back to the whole doing non paid work thing. Whenever I tell someone what I am doing I always get asked if I am being paid. I’ve noticed to a lot of people, money is always on the fore front it drives how seriously a person takes what you’re doing.  At first it used to annoy me because I thought it was rude but I suppose everyone has to survive somehow so it’s probably only natural to ask if I am being paid to do what I do. The answer for now though, is no. If you are a student with ZERO work experience and if you really don’t need the money, then I think it’s okay for you to do free shxt and here are my reasons why:

It shows dedication and commitment

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti

There is nothing that I can point out to you that I absolutely hate that I do for free. Everything I do without getting paid has to be something I am passionate about. If it ain’t paying the bills now, if I keep mastering how the game is played rather than whining about being broke or not being able to get the job I want, eventually my free shxt will come through for me and that will be your greatest weapon when an employer is deciding why they should hire you. They will see that your character isn’t necessarily led by money but rather the enjoyment of what you do and the dedication you show –well at least that’s how I see it and that is what I have seen play out in many of the paid opportunities I have landed.

It builds your confidence

“When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” ― Pablo Picasso

Confidence in yourself is everything. People are going to talk. They will pick at your character and whether  or not the intention is to bring you down, it affects your confidence in some way. I get belittled all the time for doing free shxt but what you may not realize is all the unpaid work I have done has boosted my confidence. My confidence has been boosted because I can now safely say I have enough work experience to know what I enjoy doing and what I would potentially want to advance my career in. I’ve also worked with so many different people and have learned the most valuable skills of all -people skills. Half the time when you opt to work for free, it’s cause you’ve actively contacted whoever you want to work for and that in itself takes a lot of confidence. Emailing CEO’s, directors or even managers requires you to bring you A game because lets face it, these are all busy people with crazy schedules so the fact that they are willing to give you their time is incredible and will go towards strengthening your confidence.

You have nothing to lose

“It is easier for one to take risks and to chase dreams with a mindset that you have nothing to lose. In this lies the immense passion, the great advantage of avoiding a materialistic, pleasure-filled way of life.”
Criss Jami, Killosophy

If you are a student chances are you have no extreme responsibilities that require you to have a certain amount of cash rolling in every week. Granted everyone has a different situation and I can’t speak for you all, I will speak for those who I know are still studying and can afford to give up their time to volunteer or take on unpaid internships. If that is you, now is the time to get your hands dirty and make sacrifices because once you graduate and get ready to face the “real world” chances are you won’t want to do anything for free. My uncle once said to me, “do all the tasks or jobs that seem menial now because the older you get, the harder it becomes.”

Get your 5+ years work experience in the bag

There’s a meme that was going around of students complaining about how employers are unreasonable with certain graduate roles. I couldn’t find the exact one I saw but it went a little something like these two:



So if that’s the case with most jobs after uni, start offering up your time to work. It adds to your resume and by the time you graduate (if all went well) you’ll have great references that will vouch for you, some level of work experience and you might not have to apply for just ANY job, you might be lucky and land the job you actually want because you will have something to backup your degree.


  1. I love this! I’ve done so many Styling gigs for free and I find i actually enjoy it more when it’s unpaid , it’s almost like there’s no pressure on you and you can fully enjoy what you’re doing, I also find I’ve produced my best work when working for free. Even up to now I still like doing some unpaid work because at the end of the day I am still doing what I love, and the rest will follow. Also, you need to build your portfolio like you said and you need to start from somewhere. Good on you! Such a good post. As for those people who love asking “are you getting paid” …get stuffed!!!! hahaha

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