Our member of the week is Jessie Mathisen. Jessie works as a tutor with third to twelfth graders in math, science, and English. She also helps students prepare for dreaded standardized tests like the SAT’s, AP Exams, and some of the Regents Exams. When a student needs a few sessions to brush up on his or her algebra, or a parent needs a yearlong commitment to home school a child actor, Jessie steps in. She uses her website as an efficient marketing tool, listsing all of her services and fees and showcasing testimonials from some of her clients. Check out her profile on our yellow pages and our short interview below to learn more about Jessie’s experiences as a freelancer.
1. What has been your most interesting project?
It's hard to say. The vast majority of my work is interesting--as a tutor, I do intensive one-on-one work with a very wide variety of students and in a wide variety of subjects. However, my most unusual project so far has been home schooling a child actor while she worked full-time performing in an off-Broadway play. The girl was still just a kid in many ways, but she had an astounding maturity. It's always fun to do home schooling--test preparation can get pretty repetitive.
*2. Why did you decide to go freelance? *
I'm not sure it was a decision- I like to say that I was born self-employed, and it just took me a while to discover that fact. The turning point came when I was working at a public school with a rough student population and an extremely difficult administration--another teacher had just been harassed into quitting and she seemed very relaxed about leaving. When I asked her why she wasn't worried about losing her job she explained that she had a part time tutoring gig after school that paid $60/hr. After I heard that, there was no way that I wasn't going to give it a try!
3. What tip would you give to a new freelancer or someone who is considering going freelance?
Don't be afraid, but do be realistic. I make a very good hourly rate, but I don't make as much as I would working as a regular teacher for a school system (at least not yet). There are several reasons, but the two main ones are that much of your compensation is hidden in a payroll job (social security taxes, health insurance, and retirement contributions) and non-billable hours can be highly significant. Don't become a freelancer because you want to do less work--become a freelancer because you want to work more intelligently.
4. What is your favorite spot in the city in which you live?
I don't have a single favorite spot, but if I have to nominate just one, I'll pick a secret spot- the Bronx River. It's a little bit of nature, complete with hawks and beavers, that almost no one knows about. When I take my kayak down in the elevator of my apartment building, it always sparks interesting conversations with the neighbors!
5. What is your inspiration?
Every once in a while, I'll come across an ad from another tutor that says something like "28 years of tutoring experience" and I feel pretty inspired.