Being freelance has various advantages and one of them, as American Lilit Marcus demonstrates is that – if you’re lucky – you can work from just about anywhere.
Lilit is a freelance writer and blogger in New York City, but she’s recently spent a month in London, working as an intern on Metropolitan, the on-train magazine of the Eurostar service. How did she find the experience of working over here – and how did she manage to take that month off?
The answer, in the same order: she loved it and she didn’t.
“I could only do this because I’m freelance and could bring my work with me. I couldn’t have afforded to take a month off.
“I’ve been full-time freelance since September. Before that, I was in web journalism but did freelance writing on the side – my first book came out in August 2010. It’s called Save the Assistants. It started out as a blog and became really, really popular. I was approached by several publishers, but luckily, I already had an agent. If you don’t, publishers try to low-ball you.
“It’s a non-fiction book, but it’s not just about my experience – other people wrote on the blog too. Basically, I had a really hard time transitioning from university to my first job – I was an assistant for a top executive. I found it really hard going from a small town (I’m from North Carolina) to a large corporation. It started as a forum, because there were a lot things I didn’t understand, like, I got asked to do things like pick her kids up from school or drop off her dry cleaning. The site also had Q&As and commentary on the news. For instance, there was a high-profile case in New York at the time – an assistant had killed her very high-ranking boss – and there was a lot about celebs and their assistants in the newspapers, like Naomi Campbell and her assistant, so there was a lot of reporting on that.
“I came over to do this internship because it allowed me to be here, in London, and to improve my French [Metropolitan is a dual-language publication]. I’d love to do the same thing in France, though it’s not possible for me to work in Europe right now because I don’t have an EU passport, but having better French might help with that at some point.
“One of the sites I write for is an American travel site and they’re thrilled I’m here! And, of course, I do my other writing from here.”
How does working in the UK compare with the USA?
“Certainly, interns are treated better here. And people here make more of an effort to pay you or reimburse you for travel or lunch. In New York, they’d just expect you to work for free. People there are using the bad economy to treat people badly. Here, if someone’s making coffee, they’ll ask you if you want one. There, they’d tell you to make the coffee.”
You can visit Lilit’s website at www.savetheassistants.com or follow her on Twitter @saveassistants