The Freedom to Freelance: Alumna Wendy Schaffer


Wendy

I really liked that Wendy talked about the freedom freelancing gives her, but it also struck me that the things she did earlier in her career gave her a certain freedom to freelance as well. Read on to find out more. And thank you to Wendy for sharing–JLH

JLH: How did you decide on Waterloo over other universities?
WS: I chose Waterloo for a couple of reasons. One of them was that I got a scholarship. The other was that I could major in a non-traditional English program. I knew I wanted to be a writer so I went for RPW, and combined it with Applied Studies in order to get some hands-on experience through co-op placements.

JLH: What would you have been doing on a Friday/Saturday night during your Waterloo time?
WS: I would have been hanging out a friend’s place, dancing at Fed Hall or Phil’s, or going to a movie or concert.

JLH: Can you tell us how your career developed following graduation?
WS: For my last two co-op terms (they were combined), I worked as a tech writer for Nortel in Australia. That experience landed me a full-time tech-writing job for Nortel in downtown Toronto. After a few years there, I moved to Extend Media because I wanted to do something more creative. I started there, writing for one of their in-house software products, but they also were a Web shop – one of the first. I asked to write web content and found my niche.

Phil's

JLH: You were just a few years out when the dot.com bubble burst, which shifted the industry. Do you think the boom and bust helped or hurt you overall?
WS: I think it helped, though it was really fun to work during the boom. It was a time of excess and actually building blue-sky sites. And I rather liked celebrating with champagne on the rooftop deck every week or so. The bust helped re-define the industry, and made strategy and creative align more. I like being both creative and strategic. By adding focus and objectives, things became more challenging. Overall, I like how digital is constantly redefining and evolving. It keeps things interesting.

JLH: What made you decide to move to freelance? And why was this the right time in your career?
WS: I moved to freelance because I wanted more control over the projects I’d work on and over my time. I have a three-year-old son. Having more flexibility to spend time with him is very important to me right now. Given that I’ve worked with a great crew of people on big brands, I have a good network. Opportunities came up and freelance felt like the right move to make.

JLH: Finally, can you tell us what you are currently reading? And what one book would you recommend to your best friend?
WS: Only one book?! That’s tough, because I love to read. I have too many favorites. Guess I’ll go with the last book that I loved: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m just about to start Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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