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Best Side Hustles and the College Degrees to Support Them

Turn your side job into your college major and future career.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 16, 2021

Pick a side hustle in high school, college, or graduate school, and use it to chart your academic and professional journey.
Best Side Hustles and the College Degrees to Support Them
When you think of the term “side hustle,” what pops into your head? It may be a social media influencer that you follow, or your relative that works for a multi-level marketing (MLM) and fills your newsfeed with “ads” for their product. You may be surprised to find that the term “side hustle” extends far beyond what you see and experience on a daily basis. There are actually very legitimate side hustle jobs that lead to fulfilling college majors and careers. You just have to know where to start. Fortunately, there is no better time to start your side hustle from home -- or dorm room -- than during high school, college, or graduate school. While you’re busy with classes and homework, there is also quite a bit of downtime to invest in your newfound side job.

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Take a look at these popular side hustle ideas, and learn how to make extra money as well as how to transform them into legitimate college majors and job opportunities for your post-grad life.
  1. Making Facebook Ads for Small Businesses – Marketing or Advertising Majors This idea has been developed and highlighted on Forbes by Jeff Rose. Whether or not you’re a Facebook user, 3 billion people in the world are, and many of those are owners and operators of small businesses. These users need help creating and managing Facebook ads, which are an effective and inexpensive way to reach their target audience. There are multiple tutorials on YouTube to help you navigate starting your own Facebook ad management side hustle. You can also check out Facebook’s Business webpage.

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    Rose suggests reaching out to businesses in your local area to offer your services, but you can also create business online. This side hustle will give marketing majors and advertising majors a leg up on the competition in their post-grad job search. Not only will you make good money doing this, you’ll also be developing content, creating the actual ads, and managing their success through analytics.
  2. Freelance Writer – English or Communication Majors

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    Visit any freelance website, and you’ll see a great need for freelance writers. Though it may be difficult to find a lucrative freelance position right away, it’s a goal you can work toward. Experience is experience, no matter what you’re paid. You can start writing in any field or on any product, as long as you’re a great researcher. At the same time, if you have a particular interest or passion that you’re especially knowledgeable about, it would be fitting for you to find freelance writing jobs in that field. You can use sites like Freelancer and Upwork to find freelancing jobs. Freelancing can help English majors or Communications majors get real writing experience and build their portfolio. When you start searching for jobs after college or graduate school as a writer, you will oftentimes need to provide samples of your work. Freelancing will not only give you relevant experience on your resume, but also writing samples that prove your worth as a copywriter or editor.
  3. Social Media Manager – Communications, Public Relations, Business or Journalism Majors Social media isn’t all fun and games anymore. They are platforms that help small businesses attract clientele, journalism sites deliver breaking news, and brands drive their agendas. Because of the influence of social media, everyone from small businesses to major corporations are hiring social media managers. As it turns out, though, you can start this career before you even graduate. A social media manager’s role can encompass a lot of tasks across social media. You may be marketing the business through ad management or creating social media posts. You could also be handling customer care and complaints. You can find social media manager jobs on some of the freelancing sites mentioned above. Or, reach out to some of your favorite brands or local companies to inquire about their need for a social media manager. Do some research on how much to charge your clients if social media management is new to them. A social media manager side hustle will give you great experience as a communications, public relations, business, or journalism major. Through this particular side job, you’ll also get experience as an entrepreneur. After all, creating this position for yourself and selling your skills and expertise to other companies takes initiative, investment, and business development in yourself.
  4. Create an Online Course – All Majors Are you particularly knowledgeable or passionate about a certain subject? It could be anything from chemistry or politics to Minecraft or personal fitness. Whatever it is, you can turn it into an online course. Online learning courses are a very in-demand product. These courses help people gain more knowledge on a subject that they’re interested in and on their own timetable. You may not know where to start in creating your own online course; but fortunately, the process is pretty easy. Sites like Kajabi or Teachable can help you develop and market your online course. This particular side hustle is applicable to any major. You may even become inspired to create a course based on the material you’re currently studying. Ultimately, you’ll have a real resume booster. Imagine walking into a job interview with an online course that is wholly yours, engages others, and generates income for you.
  5. Digital Designer – Art or Design Majors As an art major or graphic design major, you will undoubtedly have a portfolio of your artwork that you can showcase while you’re in school as well as after graduation. But did you know that you can also generate income from your designs, “doodles,” and art while you’re still in school? Site like CafePress allow designers to submit their designs for a variety of products. While CafePress makes a profit from the product, the designer also gets a commission on each sale. If you want to create an entire line of products, you can even start your own shop. Though this side hustle will give designers and art majors a chance to flex their creative muscles, it will also provide you with business and marketing experience. For a creative major, those are some skills that will show you’re a well-rounded individual that is capable of learning and achieving anything. If you’re looking for a way to generate some income and experience, consider one of the above side hustles. For further ideas and inspiration, check out entrepreneur.com for 50 side jobs that are great for high school, college, or graduate students.

    How to Feature Side Hustles on Your Resume

    As you can see, you can turn just about any experience into an opportunity to make some money and enhance your resume. Ideally, you would make enough money in your side hustle from home that you wouldn’t need a part-time job or seasonal work during the summer. And though they may not seem to be as attention-grabbing as an internship during the summer or a semester abroad, side hustles are just as impressive. With a side job, you’re learning how to manage your time and workload efficiently, developing new skills, and honing either your entrepreneurial or teamwork abilities. With that, you should absolutely feature any side jobs on your resume.
    1. List your side hustle under Work Experience. Obviously, your side job counts as work experience and should fit under such within the flow of your resume. If you’re creating a Chronological Resume, it goes without saying that you should list your experience when it occurred along your career path. If your resume is formatted by relevancy, and your side hustle happens to support both your academic experience and professional goals, don’t be afraid to list it first.
    2. Include data and achievements to summarize your side hustle. Potential employers don’t just love to see where, or with whom, you worked, they want to see your performance. If you’re a freelance writer, for instance, include the number of articles you contributed on a weekly or monthly basis. Try to include page views on your work or click-through-rates on your emails. Keep track of milestones, achievements, and data sets in order to prove your effectiveness as an employee.
    3. Feature examples of your side hustle work in a portfolio. Whatever career you’re hoping to pursue, it’s always helpful in the hiring process to include some of your past work. If your side hustle includes writing, designing, or advertising, include examples of what you’ve done. This helps to supplement your brag sheet, resume, cover letter, and eventual job interview.
    While your side hustle is noteworthy enough to feature on your resume, it may even become the stepping stone to your first post-grad job. Though you may be working your side hustle from home or your dorm room, there are still opportunities to network. Undoubtedly, you will email or Zoom with a supervisor or peer in your side job network. You can utilize these connections to help you in your job search after college or graduate school. Not only can they serve as references, but they can lead to a real job opportunity. To properly network with these individuals, touch base with them occasionally. Share updates on your education experience in addition to other jobs you land. Ask about their work and career trajectory as well. Let them know that you’d love to use them as a reference or work with them in the future. You never know how keeping in touch can work to help you find a job.

    If You Can’t Find a Side Hustle…

    Finding and working a side hustle job isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. There are other ways that you can generate income or extra money to help pay for college or graduate school.
    1. Get a part-time job. Rather than working from home or your dorm room, consider getting out and finding a part-time job. You can find a job on campus through your school’s work study program, or find an opportunity off campus. If you’re looking for a place to start, consider checking out Fastweb’s Part-Time Job channel.
    2. Apply for financial aid. Many students either fail to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known more commonly as the FAFSA, or only fill it out their senior year of high school. This form needs to be completed every year that you are in school, even if you didn’t qualify for financial aid in years past. At the same time, if you feel that you’re deserving of financial need but your circumstances weren’t accurately reflected on the FAFSA, ask for a financial aid appeal.
    3. Continue your scholarship search on Fastweb. Finally, continue your scholarship search on Fastweb by logging on frequently and setting a goal to apply to 2 – 3 scholarships each week. Find scholarships that only take a few minutes to apply for, similar to this $1,000 Scholarship Success Sweepstakes. Again, so many students limit the scholarship search to their senior year of high school, when in fact, there are thousands of scholarship opportunities for college students and graduate students. Earning scholarships throughout your academic career enable you to use your money for other education costs or student life. Some scholarship opportunities could be life-changing, so be sure to apply for those opportunities that have big figures as well as those smaller scholarships that can add up to help alleviate your finances.
    Whichever route you go – whether it’s a side hustle or the search for financial aid and scholarships – know that a dollar earned or won is one less dollar that you’ll have to borrow to pay for college or graduate school. And that’s what a side hustle is all about: generating money in order to pursue financial freedom. Best of luck as you chart your path! Do you have a side hustle? Share in the comments!

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