By Bella Fordyce, director of communications
In the age of unpaid internships, more and more millennials are looking for new ways to make some cash on the side. For entrepreneurial-minded communications students, getting a side hustle can be a lucrative resume and portfolio booster that can be tailored to your career interests and goals. Jenna Spinelle, a marketing communications specialist for Penn State Undergraduate Admissions and introduction to journalism lecturer, has been freelancing since graduating from Penn State in 2008 with a degree in journalism. In the past year, she has built up a portfolio of clients from around the world using online freelancing platforms. I sat down with her to learn more about how communications students can benefit from finding their side hustle.
What is a side hustle, anyway?
A side hustle is not an internship or part-time job–it’s something you do on your own time. It could be anything from asking around for jobs to running your own business. Side hustles aren’t new, but the rise of the internet and the sharing economy has presented people with side hustle opportunities with low barriers to entry, such as driving Uber or Lyft, renting out a room on Airbnb, delivering Postmates or selling products on Etsy.
Why should I get one?
For college communications students, you can never have too much experience. If you’re too busy during the school year to commit to an internship in addition to classes, side hustles are a great way to build your portfolio on your own time. Even if you already have an unpaid internship, they’re a great way to supplement your income while still contributing to your career goals. Side hustles are also great lessons in self-discipline and time management, and look great to potential employers who want concrete examples of times you juggled multiple responsibilities and stayed organized.
So..how do I get one?
If you have minimal experience, a great way to get some is to ask around the community. Does a local non-profit need help promoting an event? Do you think a local business could use a brand refresh? Does a family friend need someone to take graduation photos? Don’t be afraid to pitch yourself and your skills–and even though these jobs might be unpaid, you’ll end up with work samples you can use as a means to get paid jobs. You can also head online to sites like UpWork.com where small businesses and startups post work requests. When talking to a potential client, it’s okay to let your work speak for itself and not disclose that you’re a student (unless they specifically ask). When looking for jobs online, it’s always important to use discretion and think about what your time is worth. If you have experience and a growing client base, you may even want to consider starting your own business.
Busy schedules and lack of set hours can make students apprehensive about taking on side hustle projects, but Spinelle recommends that students start small, underpromise and overdeliver. She also tells students to sit down and audit their days. How do you spend your time? Could you be spending 30 minutes a day doing something more valuable?
Special thanks to Jenna Spinelle for being interviewed for this blog post.