Side Hustle: A flexible part-time engagement done at your leisure in addition to working your full-time job.
It’s similar to being a weekend warrior, where you grind through the 9-5 work week, anticipating a weekend engrossed in the activities you love, whether it’s surfing, writing or crocheting custom scarves.
The difference? A side hustle allows you to pursue your passions and turn them into cold, hard cash.
If you’ve been surfing for over a decade, why not offer lessons for beginners in your local area? If you’ve got a way with words, freelancing about topics you’re already reading and writing about can earn you some extra spending money. Rather than letting your crochet projects collect dust in your room, set up an Etsy shop and monetize those bad boys.
Side hustling doesn’t strictly have to encompass technical skills or intellectual pursuits. You can make serious money babysitting, bartending, waitressing and shuttling drunks between bars as an Uber driver. After all, the idea of shoveling your neighbor’s driveway for a few extra bucks has been around since my dad was a kid.
However, millennials in particular have embraced the side hustle culture as a way of life. After all, with our generation in dire straits in terms of lower starting salaries, insurmountable student loan debt and a nearly impenetrable housing market, who can blame us for utilizing our skills to make extra money?
Nearly everyone I know has perfected the art and science of the side hustle. My friend Sarah is great with kids, so she’s been babysitting for the last decade. Cassie, Ms. Phi Beta Kappa, supplemented her income last year by becoming a tutor (plus, the family gave her an adorable Kate Spade clutch as a thank-you present. How’s that for a gratuity?). My cousin, who is a full-time pharmacy student, was a product tester for a cosmetic company. The girl literally got paid to try out new eyeshadow and nail polish. What a life.
I’ve been side hustling since middle school. Inspired byThe Babysitter’s Club series, I stuck flyers in every mailbox in the neighborhood advertising my child care services. My street was filled with families who had young children, and I was the only pre-teen girl on the block. I had cornered the market and raked in the cash weekend after weekend.
This entrepreneurial spirit continued through college. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish, but I fell into writing by accident. When I studied abroad my junior year, I became a freelance writer for a women’s travel website. My goal was to examine my experiences abroad through a feminist lens – a complement to my work as a part-time research assistant for my professor who was writing a psychology of women textbook (yet another side hustle of mine).
This experience gave me practice pitching stories, reporting and strengthened my writing skills – all of which I’ve been able to leverage into more freelance jobs, as well as a full-time career in content creation. My writing portfolio has come up in nearly every email or interview. Hell, it even got me an interview at an advertising agency for their PR department – and I know next to nothing about PR!
The truth is, there are so many things I’d rather be doing than working during my days off: riding my bike to the beach, diving into the stack of library books on my coffee table or getting lost in a Netflix binge. However, the grittiness of putting in extra time in the name of professional development is something employers and colleagues want to see. It’s the adult-world version of extra credit.
Do you want to know the truly amazing thing about side hustles? They can be so much more than a way to monetize your passions: they can also help kick-start a career.
I’ve been a fitness fanatic for my entire life. At age three, I got kicked out of ballet class for being too rowdy. My parents signed me up for rec sports instead and I never looked back, all the way to playing varsity field hockey in college. Within the next few months, I plan on becoming a certified personal trainer. I’m already at the gym six days a week anyway, so why not put my passion and skills to good use? Who knows, maybe I’ll become a fitness blogger, lifestyle coach or the next Jillian Michaels.
Overall, young people at the start of their adult life should not underestimate the power of their own passions. After all: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi.