You want money. You want skills. You don’t want to work in a fast food restaurant.
The solution? A side-hustle that will give you money and skills, and not leave you smelling of over-calorific oily fries everyday. Yes it exists.
University is the perfect place to start a side-hustle because you have more time (if you know how to manage it), you have less responsibilities and you’re a knowledge sponge (i.e. you’re always learning).
I’ve compiled a short list of these lil jobs to get you started on some cash and joining the job market. With these hustles you’ll learn VERY valuable skills that many employers ADORE and you’ll get to experience more of the adult world (yay to that). I’ve personally done every single one on the list, so they’re all doable and effective.
Teaching English/your native language
A classic side-hustle in university. There is a HUGE market for teaching languages, especially English. Students range from Asia to South America to even your next door neighbour. Whether it’s online or face to face, you will always find someone who is willing to learn. Post some flyers around your university (if that’s allowed), post ads on Craigslist and similar websites looking for people who want to learn a language. If you want to check out teaching online, here is a list of companies looking for teachers. If that doesn’t work, hop on to Upwork and Fiverr and post your ads all over the place.
It’s important that you put in the effort. Make lesson plans, listen to their requests and deliver well. However, once you start getting better, charge more. I charged $5 (and Fiverr gets $1) per hour, and didn’t realise how much I was being underpaid considering the quality of my classes until much later. Don’t make that mistake and take into account your value.
Skills acquired: Empathy and dealing with clients. As a teacher you have to put yourself in your students’ shoes. You have to learn how to explain as clearly as possible, and be patient with their learning. You also learn a lot about your own language and what foreigners struggle the most with.
If you do English lessons at the right place with the right clients, you can earn good money. I was earning $40 an hour in Shanghai just because English teachers are in huge demand there, no kidding.
Skills acquired: Learning how to sell! VERY VALUABLE SKILL. Employers will be begging you to join their company if this is a skill you master. Selling products online allows you to get started on understanding the whole trading business. You learn how to market your products, how to deal with customers and how to adjust according to demand. Very cool skill.
My number one lesson from owning an online shop: Focus on capturing their attention. Do something so weird and so different that they have to check it out. Then, provide valuable content.
Not an easy side-hustle, but it will change you. Who are promoters? They’re the younglings who hand you flyers on the streets, want to convince you to sign up for a charity or to come join them to some discounted party. It’s a hard job because you basically get 100 rejections a day. People will ignore you, treat you like dirt and you’re paid very little. But the skills make it worth it.
Skills acquired: Being rejected that many a times makes you totally immune. Ok maybe not quite, but you learn how to deal with rejection and how to accept it. At the beginning you might get a little discouraged, but you slowly start to learn how people react to different things. You really force yourself out of your comfort zone and try to convince the stranger to join your party. These kind of situations give you amazing interpersonal and communication skills.
In Barcelona I worked as a party promoter, trying to get people to sign up and go clubbing with me (it’s not as dodgy as it sounds). It was so hard at the beginning. I was a shy 18 year old who had to morph into an extroverted, organised and exciting leader (try managing 30 drunk people into clubs). I learnt how to talk to strangers, how to start conversations and how to get people excited and join the list. Good times.
Blogging and the online Freelance world
Of course I had to add this one. However, different to others, I don’t have a blog post on ‘How to start a blog’ with Bluehost affiliate links (sorry I’m using something else).
Blogging is a great skill building job for university students. You get to work when you want and how you want, which is effectively the beginnings of a business. Yes, you probably won’t see the cash returns immediately, but if you start blogging in first year of university, you’ll definitely be earning money by the time you graduate (and it’s doing something you love!).
This also applies to freelance work, whether it’s writing, programming or even virtual assisting, you’ll be earning money doing something that can easily fit round your university schedule.
Skills acquired: Working with clients and managing your own ‘business’. Both freelancing and blogging involve hard work and a lot of hustling. You learn how to discipline yourself, how to work with clients and most important of all, how to sell yourself.
One of my current side-hustles is blogging (surprise, surprise), and I have to say it’s my favourite so far. I love writing and I love finance, so it’s a great combo.
Building a network
This isn’t exactly a job, but boy will it pay off! You don’t realise the importance of having a good network until an amazing opportunity lands on your lap literally just from knowing someone.
Networking means building connections and friends to open up as many doors as possible. And university is THE place to get started with networking. You have clubs, sororities, societies, conferences, lectures, etc. It’s much easier in university to go out there and meet people, simply because universities know how important networking is. Now is your time to get started.
Skills acquired: AMAZING people skills. You learn how to be interested in people, how to make them notice you and how to keep the connection. If you’re shy, networking is a great way to slowly get out of your comfort zone. Think that many people at these clubs and meetups are just like you: trying to meet people and make friends.
I was quite scared at first. On my gap year, I didn’t have university to help me make connections, so I went to social events on Meetup. At first I went with friends, so it made the process a bit easier. But honestly, it wasn’t until I went completely on my own that I really put in practice my ‘people skills’. These events taught me how to approach strangers, how to start conversations and how to really make a networking connection. Another very valuable skill.
All of these jobs have given me great skills and valuable opportunities. The number one lesson I learned was: you really have to put yourself out there. Want to earn money doing something you love? Work for it, look for opportunities. Scared of meeting new people? Make a job out of it. If you constantly want to improve yourself and your skills, you need to go out there and get out your comfort zone. Studying at university is a journey and a challenge, so make the most of it!