“People want to go online and check out their friends, so why not build a website that offers that? Friends, pictures, profiles that you can visit, browse around, maybe it’s someone you just met at a party. I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.”

So spoke Aaron Sorkin’s rendition of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Zuckerberg refers to his website Facebook, an experiment that would quickly upheave the social order. Predecessors such as Friendster and Myspace laid the groundwork for the creation of online relationships. Parents continued to fret about the dangers of strangers hidden behind screens, but now photos and backstories were being attached to these names.

As Facebook expanded, it became a veritable directory of the internet, the phonebook for the millennial generation. The internet was no longer a tool for business; it had become a social creature, nourished by long distance friendships. Shielded by a degree of anonymity, people could actively seek out like minded individuals. Communities formed around even the most obscure topics, and we rapidly reached a point of internet acceptance. Virtual friendships carry as much weight as physical ones; business transactions occur without the need for an in-person interaction.

It is from this social and professional mélange that Crème de la Crème has emerged. Founded in 2015, the company seeks to enable the eclectic skill set of the millennial generation — one that caters to the freelancing market. Tech, design, and writing are among the talents represented across the site, which bridges the frequently wide gap between students and employers. A cursory scroll through job pitches reveals website redesigns, product launches, language translations, and more projects for talented freelancers. The head of international growth, David Odier explains that the main specificities of Crème de la Crème are, “the top quality of the students working on it and the high-quality of the services in itself.”

He continues, “Here you won’t find any low-skills jobs at all, but only high-skills ones with high added-value. Financial analysis, online advertising, growth hacking… The list never ends.”

Unlike many other freelancing websites, Crème de la Crème focuses on the Y-generation, a relatively untapped labour market. Today, students are able to use the internet’s infinite resources to achieve expert-level proficiency in certain industries. They don’t need a degree, or certifications, only talent. Freelancing allows any talented individual to bolster their CV and make money, all on an ad hoc basis. If basic numbers are anything to go by, the model appears to be successful: Over 40,000 students have signed up for the site, working for over 10,000 companies.

“Through the platform, you can apply everything you’ve learnt during your academic path, along with the natural skills you’ve developed as a digital native,” continues Mr Odier. “An increasing number of companies are willing to work with freelance students. It allows them to be aware of the newest digital trends, understand what the new habits of the younger generations are. Moreover, it’s an opportunity for companies to work faster with dynamic processes and see things differently by challenging established practices.”

Having raised about €1,000,000 in funding, Crème de la Crème is currently in the midst of a global expansion. As the name would suggest, the startup originates from France, where it targeted students at top universities. This modus operandi serves to further differentiate the website from any competitors. Crème de la Crème attracts top companies because, in exchange, it provides them with top students. University College London, King’s College, Imperial College, Cambridge, and Oxford have all joined the freelancing fray. And now, that list includes St Andrews.

By nature, freelancing suits students. Even part-time jobs can prove strenuous, as lengthy shifts and unpredictable hours clash with social obligations and academic pursuits. Our availability changes constantly, mirroring the university timeline of essays, exams, and revision. Freelancing allows us to customise our schedules, essentially acting as our own boss whilst at uni. School holidays can be spent working on projects, raising cash to fund the busier exam season.

This digital labour model has the potential to replace internships as the ideal method of gaining work experience. Rather than plugging away in a corporate environment for little pay and less work, freelancing offers direct, autonomous experience in your chosen field. Particularly for writers or designers, projects can be used to improve portfolios and garner references. In some cases, projects can lead to full-time jobs after graduation – all achieved with nothing more than free time, talent, and a laptop.

Campus Brand Manager Ludmilla D’Halluin praises the flexibility of the work, ease of the platform, and high pay, “Within a week, you can find a project you like and get the work done with an hourly wage of £30.” Whether working for startups or large companies, the freelancer has the ability to set a quote and receive immediate payment.

Whether an aspiring entrepreneur or hopeful future employee, any student can find opportunity as a freelancer. The site appears to cater to our flexible schedules, drawing on the limitless creative resource provided by a top university’s young, fresh talent. Students can sign up at https://cremedelacreme.io, or contact Ludmilla at ld75@st-andrews.ac.uk for more information.

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