“I’m a hustler babe, and I just want you to know. It ain’t where I’ve been, but where I’m ‘bout to go.” So wise you are Pharrell Williams. A side hustle is all about the future and getting you there by your own creation. A side hustle is about taking advantage of every opportunity around you as you work to build the bigger puzzle of your life.
Over the years I’ve had many a side hustle with varying durations, capacities and types. Some were volunteer hustles that connected to personal passions, such as volunteering at my favorite yoga studio, and some were purely paying hustles that allowed me the financial means to do things my salary didn’t, such as paying for my wedding and a move across the country. From slinging shoes at a running store to providing administrative support to a grant funded project, my absolute favorite side hustle has been working as a consultant doing leadership, team development, and academic skills coaching.
Four years ago I had the privilege of getting trained as a StrengthsQuest Educator through the Gallup organization. A colleague was already facilitating strengths coaching sessions at schools in the area and he asked me to jump in for one; I was hooked! Graduate school was intended to be the first steps in a long career as a Communication Studies professor, but along the way the path curved towards student affairs. Consulting fills that hole in my bucket for teaching and helps supplement the cost of living in an urban environment. I’ve since learned new skills, gained new clients, and widened my consulting offerings to include leadership coaching and academic skills coaching.
One surprising part of every side hustle I’ve had is the positive impact on my career as a student affairs professional. They have expanded my networks, offered new perspective, and enhanced options to tackle problems. Side hustles have pushed me to think differently and utilize a diverse team for support. As we work with students every day tackling challenges and opportunities that don’t match our own, it’s important to expand our own way of thinking and not get stale.
Although I have found value in the hustle, it’s not always easy, and you will find as many opinions about the hustle as you will people. Everyone has a different perspective on doing something outside of work. I caution anyone interested in a side hustle to take a step back and assess the reality of what you could be getting yourself into. I recommend you ask yourself a few key questions:
Why am I pursuing this gig? – Similar to contemplating pursuing an advanced degree, it’s important to have a clear sense of WHY. Taking on extra things can be quite challenging, and in the moments where you realize you could be catching up on Scandal instead of writing your lesson plan for that class you’re teaching, the WHY will keep you focused. If money is important to you, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that, then pursue something that provides what you need. If stretching and growing your skill set beyond your first job is important, go for it!
Do I have the time? – Time varies depending on your capacity to use it. If you are someone who can manage a lot of moving parts and can do it with a flair that can impress the likes of Martha Stewart, you might be ready for a side hustle. If you are someone who struggles to effectively complete your FIRST job with the time you have available, consider rethinking the side hustle.
Do I have the support needed to pursue this gig? – I’m talking support from every angle, current supervisor, family, friends, etc. Your decision to take on a side hustle will impact each of these relationships and the gig won’t last very long if your priority relationships aren’t on the same page.
This post is part of our #SAsidehustles series, which focuses on the SA pros with a second passion. These Student Affairs Professionals transition their mental and physical energy into a project that acts as both an emotional release and some level of supplemental income. From Etsy shops to horse braiding, these stories are bound to make you want to find your “by night” side hustle. For more information, check out the intro post by Tom Krieglstein. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!