Today, side work is essentially ubiquitous among 20- and 30-somethings, particularly in urban centers. Whether it’s to increase income or diversify skills, more and more millennials — particularly those in creative fields — are looking to side hustles as a way to survive.
Second jobs have been present in generations past, but millennials have finessed — and rebranded — the side hustle. Whether it’s working a day job in advertising and moonlighting as a floral arranger or working full-time as a web developer and part-time as a calligraphy teacher, side hustles help many millennials feel less pigeonholed, and often provide some much-needed, creative respite.
It’s important to remain critical of the troubling socioeconomic circumstances in the United States — particularly the ways systemic oppression and capitalism disadvantage large swaths of the country — and the fact that a full-time job often isn’t enough to make a living. But, even so, there is something inspiring about the millennial side hustle.
Levo talked with 10 millennials who have a full-time job and a side gig to gain some insight on life with a side hustle.
1. Mikayla Schmidt | Main gig: Fashion model | Side hustle: Spa manager
“I started [working in] the spa industry as a way of getting connections and knowledge of the industry I’m passionate about. [My side hustle] has allowed me to learn so many services that can contribute to a whole healthy system! It’s a safety net of my dream career for when my short lived one comes to an end.”
2. Nadya Agrawal | Main gig: Creative communications strategist | Side Hustle: Editor-in-Chief of Kajal Magazine
“I run my own online magazine Kajal which has its own store where we sell South Asian-diaspora centric merchandise. It’s been an invaluable experience in running my own business while also being able to forward the stories and voices of my community. I’m lucky that I no longer need this side hustle right now but I still love the work and having extra cash isn’t a bad thing. It carried me when I had no job and it’ll be there again if something else happens.”
3. Candace Walsh | Main gig: Editor-in-chief | Side hustle: Developmental non-fiction editor
“I have edited nonfiction anthologies, written a memoir, and have taught at a lot of writing conferences [and] those skills combined to lead to me working as a developmental editor. At the beginning, writers approached me and basically planted the idea in my head. At some point far in the future, I’d love to combine developmental editing with my own writing as my full-time focus. I’m glad I have this side hustle because I get so much gratification out of it. But in the meantime, I love my job and its stellar benefits.”
4. Amanda Porter| Main gig: Studio Coordinator | Side hustle: Improv performer
“Both my day job and side hustle feed each other in terms of real life experience. I find I am more present when being presented with what we call an offer in improv — ‘Omg you love me?!’ — that I can answer with sincerity and improv’s number one rule: ‘Yes and!’ [Having a side hustle] has fed my creative path; it makes me feel alive and has made me more grounded in who I am.”
5. Lorena Vallejos | Main gig: Senior insurance analyst | Side hustle: Baker
“I haven’t taken classes or studied the art of baking — it’s been trial and error and a few Youtube tutorials. [My side gig has taught me] about patience, but with myself, and that’s a hard task to do. To have something to distract yourself with for a few hours a day [is] a good thing. [My] business is growing, which is why I have a partner now. Who knows, maybe in some future not so far away [my side gig] can become my primary source of income.”
6. Emma Kaywin | Main gig: Manager of development & communications | Side hustle: Sexual health columnist
“After working in the volatile health sector for a couple of years, it became rather clear to me that it’s important to always have bridge funding. [As a sexual health columnist] I got paid to research and share critical sexual health information and empower young folks to take care of their bodies. I wish our culture wasn’t so capitalist and that a single job would make us all feel secure [but] I can’t imagine not doing side projects — [my side hustle] helped me get into a prestigious graduate program in health education.”
7. Daniella Davis | Main gig: Chef and CEO of catering business | Side hustle: Financial advisor
“My [side hustle] as a financial advisor teaches me skills that affect my business. Especially working in the financial field I feel as if I have so much to bring to my business now. I’m currently in the process of saving for a home next year and my side hustle allows me to save more within my intended time frame.”
8. Dara Fontein | Main gig: Blog writer | Side hustle: Transcriber
“[My side hustle has taught me] how to effectively run a small business, deal with clients, and manage expectations. I’ve also learned the power of saying no. It’s easy to get swept away with the financial possibilities taking every single job offered to you affords, but I found I had to quickly learn the importance of not spreading myself too thin. I dream of the day where just one main job can give me the financial freedom I need to survive, [but] it seems like having free time or your evenings to yourself is a luxury.”
9. Cammie Shibata | Main gig: Business Developer | Side hustle: Sign painting
“I hand paint signs for stores. I feel empowered being able to complete a project start to finish and seeing it displayed. I don’t make enough to live on [in my non-profit job] so I need extra income [as well as] a creative outlet. I hope one day the side hustle becomes my main hustle!”
10. Rachel Webb | Main gig: Non-profit health and wellness coordinator | Side hustle: Communications manager for Buddhist outreach center
“Working [my side gig] has been the spark for my life. I am learning some of the more unique pieces of wisdom and yogic practices that I have ever found. I also get to lead and participate in huge city-wide and international initiatives that provide service, meditation, and yoga to those in need. I feel that I am making a palpable difference in the world, and also in my mind. [My side hustle has taught me] how to be immensely flexible, and how to work gracefully under pressure. I have learned to be creative with time and resources, and also how to smile through most of it.”