Tech-savvy guy promoting gig economy in Kashmir

When Rubaitul Azad couldn’t pass his 10and class exam, he considered this as the end of his career, but he did not know that his knowledge and skills in the field of information technology would take him forward.

Azad, 26, is a freelance web developer and graphic designer from the Gulshan Nagar Bye pass area of ​​Srinagar. Designing modern websites, apps and providing all kinds of web services, he is known for creating digital products that his clients love and praise him for.

Having completed more than 300 projects with well-known international, national and local brands, this tech-savvy autodidact creates digital products and offers web services for start-ups, businesses, healthcare companies, education and other sectors.

A computer enthusiast from the start, he was often chastised and judged for spending all his time with the laptop, but he often looked for ways to use the internet productively.

“People told me you’re going to mess up your life and you’re not going to make a living out of this. I learned design and coding through online video lectures. I always do it because I keep myself up to date, learning and growing every day,” he said.

In 2012, he started freelancing online. The response he received for his skills from clients was good which lead him to use social media to promote his work and in no time he got a good number of followers.

“Over time I improved my skill set and learned website development, UI/UX design, WordPress development, server administration, search engine optimization, social media marketing , mobile app development and a few other techniques. Initially, there was a lot of confusion and fear in me, but today I have my own pool of clients,” he said.

After years of freelancing career, in 2017, he joined a Srinagar-based IT company as a web and UX/UI designer and continued freelancing as well.

“I have led zoom courses and recently I have completed two batches. I have trained more than 200 students who have joined freelance in different fields. From the previous promotion, I have also taught five students from from modest backgrounds,” he added. “During the short-term course, various skills regarding portfolio construction are taught.”

In 2017, he also started to make his mark on the international market and is currently carrying out projects internationally.

He has done projects with a number of commercial online services and freelance marketplaces like gigzoe as an official blog development professional. Furthermore, he has worked with a number of international brands such as KTP Exports Private Limited Singapore, Shanghai Uniforms Singapore, Kinpin TV and some companies based in Dubai and many in India.

“Some of my designs have also been used by renowned industries such as News18, Hindustan Times, Yahoo, ABP News, MSN Business and over 100 other outlets,” he added.

Believing that the concept of freelancing is still foreign to many people in Kashmir, his mission is to launch the Gig Economy here and create awareness among the masses.

He said that in the Gig Economy, various companies are hiring freelancers and freelancers instead of full-time employees and employees sitting at home can earn a good amount.

While talking about his observation, he said that during the Covid 19 pandemic, various companies downsized, rendering employees unemployed, which prompted many people to opt for freelancing.

“Self-employment allows you to work online and earn a good amount of money. You can work from anywhere, all you need is a laptop and an internet connection. I recently launched a YouTube channel. I make people aware of my craft. I also write about my work on my blog so that people are also inspired,” he said.

Since there is no age requirement in freelancing, he said 11 and 12 year olds come to learn the skills.

“You don’t need to have any special talent for this, just choose your field as content writer or any other online related field,” he added.

He further said that there has been a change in the mode of work and the youth of Kashmir need to prepare. “Work here is often associated with getting dressed in the morning and going to the office, but outside Kashmir there is a trend of hiring freelancers. The reach of the gig economy jumped in the Covid era. Many e-commerce portals have started popping up and Gig Economy is actually proving good for people provided they work hard and invest their time to produce good results,” he said.

Putting more emphasis on learning new skills to raise his profile, he said keeping abreast of different trends.

“Instead of looking for a job, one should take skills development courses. Companies do not ask for diplomas or grades. They want experienced and competent people. Even beginners earn well in freelancing,” he said.

Shying away from popular opinion regarding government jobs, he said people looking for government jobs should also be aware of recent trends happening around the world. He said: “People in Kashmir think that if you have a government job, then only your future is secure, but if one explores other areas, there are also jobs and opportunities.”

Speaking about the problems currently facing young people, he said: “Unemployment is a serious problem. Companies generally pay freshmen less and most of them do not accept jobs for such meager pay, which has compounded the problem and frustration among young people. A normal person, who spends 5-6 hours a day on social media, can invest their time in building their online portfolio and can open the door to opportunities.

Initially, Azad faced a lot of criticism from his parents and relatives, but now his parents are proud of him. He has also set up a studio at his home which is his workplace and where he spends most of his time. Outside of work, her interests lie in hiking and exploring new places.

Recalling his time at school, he said that in class 8and, he was banned from the computer lab for creating a hacking technique for LAN systems. “I realized it was wrong, then I stopped doing it. I knew a lot about computers from the start, but the difference is the best you can do with it,” he said.

He continued his studies and also pursued a degree in computer science. Believing that colleges need to change their curriculum and shift to the hands-on mode of teaching students, he said, “In colleges, things are hardly taught. The emphasis is more on theory and it is only to pass a certificate. There should be more practical courses and the infrastructure should be good too.

While conveying a message to young people, he said, “In terms of technology, we need to improve and be fashionable. The IT world is very dynamic. In 10 years, there will be a technological revolution. The rest of the world is far more advanced and some of us are still wasting our time on useless things.

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