Experiences from the flexible workforce

We spoke to Sakshi about her experience with flexible work.

Sakshi, 26

  • Casual
  • Part-time
  • Full-time
  • Gig

Sakshi is an entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Humanism Global, a social enterprise which tackles the social and economic inequities of women in developing countries. She also works at YLab. Prior to this, Sakshi’s flexible work Flexible includes part-time Pharmacy work, full-time consulting roles at Ernst and Young, campaigning for Mental Health and Wellbeing spaces for young people, and receiving funding through Accelerator Programs for previous Start-Ups.

Sakshi's story

I didn’t think this kind of freedom and purpose-driven work would exist for me. For a person who’s working full-time, I don't think you know what alternative working lifestyles and opportunities are out there for you. I also acknowledge not  all the alternatives are for everyone, but if you don't know what’s out there, you may be missing out on something that may really work for you.

Growing up, I used to associate work with a 9-5 grind that gives you financial security, and helps you buy a house and all those adult investments I knew nothing about. My parents were migrants, who came here with a $1000, a suitcase, no family or friends, big dreams and hopes for themselves and their children. Having experienced financial instability and insecurity themselves, they’ve always encouraged the importance of education and financial stability to my brother Shlok and I.

In my mind, working in the gig economy wasn’t a forever lifestyle for me. I did it because it gave me the flexibility to balance my life with studying at uni, social work/volunteering, a social life and paid work. I took on many different paid jobs - from being a GP’s Receptionist, Pharmacy Assistant, Superfund Admin assistant, Bollywood dancer, Math and English tutor, to being a Financial Services auditor and consultant at Ernst & Young (just before they hired me full-time) - to pay the bills and ‘work to live’, which enabled me to splurge on going out with my friends.

Gig work as a means to discover oneself

Unconsciously, gig work organically became a means to discover more about my passions, strengths, values and much deeper purpose beyond money, as I experienced different types of work and workplaces. It became a very fast-tracked testing ground to figure out what I’d like ‘work’ to feel like and not feel like, and the role I’d like work to play in my life.

I’m probably really selfish in that I only do things that I really love and am passionate about, and I think that’s how I can keep the balance...I only do work [that] gives meaning and purpose to me, that I internally feel is right, and I feel is aligned with my values.

Now that I’m older, and have a better understanding of my ‘Ikigai’ (Japanese word roughly translating to purpose for being) , the purpose of gig work is less financial and more meaningful. I only work on projects that align with my passion, values, skills, purpose and through which I can meaningfully contribute to the world. This was one of my biggest constraints when I was working full-time - having to work on projects that didn’t feel purpose-aligned.

Live to Work - creating a social enterprise

In 2018, I created a social enterprise Humanism Global, which tackles the social and economic inequities women in developing countries face, through creating dignified employment with them and for them.

My work with YLab as a casual Senior Associate allows me to do this, with the gig economy allowing me to ‘live to work’. Granted, I don’t have the same fortnightly pay check full-time work gave me, but I definitely have a pay check that keeps me safe, healthy, happy and incredibly fulfilled. I feel incredibly grateful as I type this, because I literally wake up every morning looking forward to ‘work’. This is really important to me as I deeply value how I spend my time on this crazy journey called life, and gig work has enabled me to live a more purposeful life.

Risks and Opportunities of Flexible work

The downfalls of the gig economy can sometimes be the instability of work followed by the financial insecurity that can bring. With the encouragement to seek financial security, my migrant parents were also ridiculously resilient, kind (almost too kind) and incredibly hard-working people who throughout our lives instilled these values in Shlok and I. Leaving full-time work for my start-up and the gig economy (two very unstable and unpredictable careers), was a very confronting time, but also one that made sense.

My advice for any other first-generation migrants who might go through similar changes in their careers, is to have appreciation and empathy for your upbringing, but always pursue your passions and values, as conflicting they might feel at times. You have this one beautiful life, so it’s important the only regrets you have are your own.