Gig-Work Creates Opportunities to See the World


“I had just graduated from college and thought to myself–I’m literally only 21. I have so much life left ahead of me,” says cryptocurrency consultant Karim Helmy, “I had just done two summer internships at a corporate bank, and I loved the culture there, but not the hours. So when I came out of that job, I was pretty ready to keep living–out of doors and in the world, not in an office.” 

Karim, who is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s machine learning and statistics program, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a product of Palo Alto’s education system, he was exposed to cutting edge technology very early on in his life. But more importantly, as the son of a successful serial entrepreneur, the concept of forging an individual career path has never intimidated Karim. “It’s just always been a part of my life,” he notes, “Growing up, starting your own business was just as viable and legitimate of a career path as your typical nine-to-five.” 

On kick-starting his career, Karim says that finding his initial clients was a gradual process. “Of course it was a bit difficult, and kind of a slow transition. My sister referred me to my first project; she needed technical help at her old job. Then a friend sent me the next client, and of course I got a lot of networking done through my university’s blockchain club.” He says,

“The next thing I knew, I had a full docket of projects.” 

But freelance consulting isn’t all fun and games–it’s crucial to be able to buckle down anywhere and anytime and work. Karim has mastered this skill, and says that the changes of scenery are actually very helpful. “I just came back from Cuba, which is an almost entirely cash-based society. Internet access there is really expensive, so I saw that crypto might not be the best solution there.”  He adds, “I don’t think there’s a silver bullet for every problem out there.” The trip, he says, completely altered his way of thinking about systems of community. “For someone who works in American finance, this was really mind-blowing–and it’s through those kinds of experiences that my work gets better. I look up and see a new place that’s worth exploring and learning about, and suddenly I can come up with so many new ideas and concepts.” He notes,

“My problem solving skills sky-rocket. Everything takes on a new cause and more worthwhile perspective.”

He explains that the biggest challenges are definitely staying focused and committed to networking. “My background is in Statistics and Machine Learning, and those are definitely not the most social fields. But you have to continue to push yourself and your comfort zone. I come from a very tight-knit community, so that definitely helps, but a lot of my work is finding new ways to engage in the world, and to learn more about my surroundings.”  

Karim definitively believes the hustle is worth the work. “I feel like I have full control of my life,” he says contemplatively. “I can go ahead and live it to the fullest.” 

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Mariam Helmy