Nov 14, 2016 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

You’ve worked hard and you’re ready.  You’re almost done with your MBA and now it’s time to...do something.  Get a job.  Or a gig.   What’s the difference and why should you care?  Diane Mulcahy, Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, and creator of the MBA class “The Gig Economy” at Babson College counsels her students not to look for jobs, but to join the “gig” economy.  We’ve parsed out the differences for you and have some thoughts on both options.

First off, the differences between the two.  A job is that classical idea that you probably have of “a job” with “job security.”  You work full-time in a place away from home; you leave your house every morning at approximately the same time, go to “work,” and leave at a specified time, presumably to do the things you do when not working.  You probably wear a suit and sit at a desk.  When you join the “gig” economy, also known as “freelancing” or “getting work,” you engage in flexible, on-demand work situations, typically with a contract.  You may work from home some days (not in a suit), engage in video conferencing, or meet a client in an office—or even a coffee shop.  What should you do with that MBA?  Decide for yourself.    

Why you should join the “Job Economy”

1. Stable Schedule

You generally work a predictable—“9-to-5”—Monday through Friday.  While this may vary, your schedule remains the same during the work week.  You have a few weeks off per year, and you know in advance when those weeks are.  You have allotted sick time, and a Human Resources department with which you can work to maintain your schedule.  With a stable schedule, you also—generally—have a stable salary.

 

2. Stronger Legal Protection

No guarantees that you won’t lose your job, but you’ll have strong legal protections against wrongful dismissal, discrimination, and unfair pay.  Not mention rights including paid leave, sick leave, parental leave, and redundancy pay.  There’s a better likelihood that you’ll have legal protection of a pension, too. 

 

3. Colleagues

“Collegial conversations” by the water cooler or coffee pot have actual merit—in terms of social activity, and workplace productivity.  Having a people with whom to talk and discuss work-related ideas is always helpful.  You will interact with your colleagues at meetings, on projects, and perhaps, even socially. 

Why you should join the “Gig Economy”

1. Flexibility

Not only do you set your own working hours, you can also determine where you work, and the assignments you choose.  You can rearrange your schedule around family and social commitments.  Provided you meet your client’s deadlines, you can work anywhere and anytime.  This flexibility comes with the responsibility of creating a work structure for yourself that a “job” naturally provides for you.  If you can manage your time well, the flexibility of freelance work can be a huge asset. 

 

2. You can’t “lose your job”

Have 4 or 5 gigs going at the same time?  Even 2 or 3?  It’s unlikely that you’ll lose all of them at once.  You can choose to end contracts early if you want; the downside is that your client can, too.  As you gain experience, you’ll be able to manage multiple gigs and once, and eventually be able to pick and choose the gigs—and specific assignments—that you want. 

 

3. No “Office Politics”

You’re not tied to just one company, you have multiple bosses, and generally you work remotely.  If you happen to be at your client’s office, and you don’t enjoy the camaraderie, or dislike the atmosphere, you can choose to end your contract.  You’re on your own!  If you’re craving the din of humanity, you can re-root yourself at a coffee shop or a park bench.  

Whatever you decide, know that there’s no right answer.  Getting an MBA is tough enough.  Deciding what to do with it?  Tougher.  Weigh your options.  You have the skills, talent and innovation to make any job—or gig—happen. 

Learn more about getting your MBA

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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