“So what do YOU do?”
Whenever I am asked this seemingly straightforward question, I prepare to recite a lengthy explanation that sums up the whole of “what I do.” This isn’t because I have a confusing, difficult-to-explain job— I just have way more than one.
When I was catapulted from being a university student, a life I had become so accustomed to, into the great unknown of adulthood, it became evident that paving a way for myself in the “real world” was certainly going to be a long process, and not a linear one by any means.
When I first moved to New York City, I got well-acquainted with the gig economy. It seemed like everyone around me was in a constant state of motion, aspiring for more— which meant many of them were working one or more side jobs to pay the bills, while simultaneously striving to fulfill their dreams. A little over a year later, I found myself doing the same. Being a recent graduate in a bustling, competitive (and expensive) city like New York meant that I would likely need to be a “Jane of all trades” in order to make enough money to survive, while working towards landing my dream job.
However, it isn’t just New Yorkers who are embracing the side hustle mentality. Nationwide, more and more people are ditching the rigid nine-to-five mindset and opting for the flexibile world of freelance gigs. According to data collected by Intuit, 34 percent of Americans made up the gig economy in 2016, and by 2020, those numbers are expected to grow by 43 percent.
The freedom that accompanies freelance work is a major reason why people have been drawn to the idea. The monotonous corporate world is proving to be less and less appealing to workers, especially to those preferring more creative endeavors or those who simply desire more flexibility in their daily schedule. However, the gig economy is also alluring to millennials who realize how strenuous it can be to land a steady position at all.
When it comes to getting a job, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers often criticize millennials for being lazy and unmotivated, but let’s face it— our grandparents and parents’ generation were granted a much smoother transition into the working world than the average young person is today. Unfortunately, the days of seamlessly jumping from college graduate to successful employed adult are long gone. According to a 2017 study by social scientists at Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley, around 90 percent of Americans born in the 1940s out earned their parents by the time they turned 30, but only half of Americans born in the 80s were able to out earn their parents.
As college tuition fees steadily increase and employers place higher expectations on entry-level workers, the younger generation’s ability to out earn their parents has become a near-impossible feat. Most jobs, including entry-level positions, require years of work experience in the field, or an internship beforehand, which some companies use as an opportunity to exploit workers into providing free or cheap labor. Depending on your career field, it could take years to break into your desired industry, even if you have a degree.
It makes sense that many millennials are turning to side hustles to make ends meet— 15 percent of 18 to 35 year olds are racking in an average of $1,000 or more per month from freelance work alone, according to a study from Bankrate. Luckily, the current job market has created countless opportunities for the eager side hustler to bring in some extra dough. Some of the most popular and in-demand gigs include being a rideshare driver for companies like Uber or Lyft, working to deliver food ordered through websites like Seamless or Grubhub, babysitting, or walking dogs.
There are also job-posting websites like Craigslist, Upwork, and FlexJobs that serve as great tools to utilize in a side hustle search, but you could also go the old-school route— ask around! It’s highly plausible that someone in your network of friends, coworkers and neighbors is willing to hire you to assist them in some way, so why not take advantage of it? Whether it be tutoring your neighbor’s kid, house-sitting for your friend while she’s on vacation, or selling your homemade goods at a local farmer’s market, the people in your community can serve as a valuable resource in landing the side gig of your dreams. You might be surprised at how many potential jobs are sitting right under your nose!
In addition to bringing in extra income, working a side gig could be beneficial to your overall well being— helping you become healthier, happier, and reduce your anxiety levels. According to a recent FlexJobs survey, it was found that 60 percent of respondents felt freelancing helped them to become healthier. 66 percent said that doing gig work positively affected their stress levels, and 59 percent said they felt less financial pressure than working in a typical job setting.
This doesn’t mean you should quit your day job right away, but picking up some side hustles could help to broaden your horizons and explore different career pathways, ones you probably never considered trying before. You’ll have the opportunity to dabble in different professions, learn new skills, and meet new people— which are all beneficial experiences to have, regardless of your career pathway.
So, if you’re slaving away at an unfulfilling job and longing to explore other career options, looking to turn a hobby into a business, or frankly, just in dire need of more money— try picking up a side hustle… you never know what it could lead to!