On the side

By Leslie T. Snadowsky

Visionary side hustles deliver more than just cash

Kimberly Porter saw the trend coming.

“About 15 years ago, one of our students decided to go into business with some of his college friends hauling junk from people’s apartments and houses,” said Porter, the director of operations assessment and strategy at Pace University’s career services in New York. “I had not heard of that before, and I remember thinking it was an unusual way to make some money on the side. His business did extremely well, and today junk removal is a multi-billion dollar industry.”

Porter said in the current economic environment, visionary side hustles not only help pay the bills, but they can also open doors to new careers.

Career hustler

According to career and online recruitment website Zippia, the percentage of side hustlers making more than $1,500 per month doubled from 2020 to 2021, and money earned is spent paying bills or saved. The website finds up to 45 percent of all Americans in 2022 were side hustlers, with that number reaching as high as 49 percent for workers under the age of 34.

“Side hustles are not just for adults who need extra money,” Porter said. “It’s a great way for college students to gain exposure to different fields, show initiative, strengthen their resumes, network and build their online brand. These experiences also help with behavioral interviewing as they’ll have real-life experiences to talk about, and not just talk about skills they think they possess.”

Tricks of the trade

Porter said her students, aged 18 to 25, anticipate having many careers, and do not expect to work for one company their whole lives and retire with a gold watch. 

“There are many reasons why someone would engage in a side hustle in addition to making some extra money,” she said. “They might be fulfilling a passion that they can’t focus on full-time, like being a part-time community theater director. It’s a way to feed that artistic need. Or they might have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to go out on their own. These days, many people are starting their own businesses because the economic landscape has changed and they have the ability to work right from their home. They like the flexibility, the ability to try new things, and a way of doing things they enjoy.”

Gig economics

Zippia’s 2022 statistics show the average monthly income from a side hustle was $483, Americans spent an average of 13 hours per week on their side hustles, and the global gig economy was worth $455 billion last year.

Side hustles can include grocery delivery through Instacart, dog walking, being a brand tester or ambassador, online tutoring or visual babysitting.

More visionary gigs can include watching movie previews or taking surveys on Survey Junkie for cash, earning cash back on websites like Rakuten, investing through Robinhood, which gives you a free stock when you download its app, renting out a spare space for someone else’s storage needs, becoming a mystery shopper, getting paid to drink free beer through Secret Hopper, or sign up on RentAFriend.com where you can charge up to $50 an hour for platonic outings like attending a concert or sporting event with someone.

Porter said college students usually gravitate towards side hustles that involve social media, marketing and technology.

“In addition to internships, we welcome side hustles that will help students advance their careers,” Porter said. “They can work on a website or they can oversee an Instagram account for a small business. This allows them to gain experience and fund their education.”

The Center for Student Enterprise (CSE) at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business initiates and coordinates student-run businesses on the Pace Pleasantville campus. Business students interested in starting or managing an entrepreneurial endeavor can meet with like-minded peers and work with professors to see their ideas come to fruition.

“The center provides students with opportunities to gain crucial managerial experience while attending school and managing student-operated businesses,” Porter said. “Driving for Uber is great, but there are other ways that you make money doing things on the side while building your career and your resume.”

Kimberly Porter, director of operations assessment and strategy at Pace University’s career services in New York, supervises a team that oversees technology, marketing and data collection/ reporting for Pace’s Career Services Department.

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