College students have ample resources when it comes to places to work. My school– Florida State University– has a gamut of libraries, study halls, and quiet corners for students to work and study. Using these facilities is a great part of the college experience– working side-by-side with equally academically-driven strangers creates a unique, pleasant atmosphere. After college, this kind of environment is hard to find, and freelancers and entrepreneurs are relegated to coffee shops and distraction-filled home offices. The co-working movement absolves this issue. Co-working spaces are perfect for the entrepreneurial graduate, and even ambitious freelancers still enrolled in school. The roster of benefits, both tangible and intangible, extends far and wide.
Ample networking opportunities: You’ll be surrounded by talented folks all looking to grow their business and skillset. This creates tons of opportunities for partnerships, or even new businesses to form. Need a graphic designer? There’s probably one a few seats down.
Affordable and professional: Unlike renting office space, a seat in a co-working space is affordable to the fresh-out-of-college graduate. Unlike a coffee shop or your parent’s garage, you can take a client there for a meeting, and most co-working spaces offer conference rooms you can use for presentation purposes.
Business Resources: There’s a lot to think about when going into business for yourself, so a lot can slip your mind. Co-working spaces usually provide all the bits and pieces you need to operate a business, from dependable internet and copy machines, to fresh coffee and a mailing address for your company.
Help the Local Economy: Joining a local co-working space that doesn’t have corporate sponsor (or even one that does) is a great way to help the local community. Can you imagine what it’d be like if the next Google was founded in your town?
Relationships: The relationships you build in a co-working environment are key to personal and professional success. A strong network of like-minded individuals allows you to feel confident in your work, as co-working communities are very protective and supportive of each other. In a more practical sense, these relationships can lead to business partnerships and opportunities later down the road.
Positive Energy/Sense of Belonging: Sometimes the hardest part of working for yourself can be getting out of bed in the morning– with no quotas to meet or boss to please, it’s all on you. At a co-working space, your presence isn’t just expected by your fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs, it’s enjoyed. Co-working spaces are filled with dynamic, driven personalities– to be surrounded by such positive creative energy only holds positive benefits for you and your environment. Working in a co-working space makes work fun, which is part of the reason people work for themselves to begin with.
Confidence: The most brilliant ideas can fall flat due to insecurity and poor salesmanship. Entrepreneurial/freelance insecurity often comes from feeling uncomfortable about your level of “professionalism.” It’s hard to present yourself as serious in a garage or a coffee shop. Having a dedicated working space complete with private meeting spaces will elevate both your business and your sense of professional confidence.
Focus: Belonging to a co-working space removes all distractions that may impede your progress. Everyone is there because they love the “collaborative” portion, but their main goal is “working.” Very different from a coffee shop, where people socializing can be distracting, or at home, where your full lineup of entertainment devices sit just feet away from your workspace.
Co-working spaces aren’t for everyone, mainly because most people don’t choose to work for themselves after graduating. However, if that is your path, I strongly suggest checking out co-working spaces in your area, and seeing what works for you.