Forté Foundation
Career Lab Virtual Campus

How to Balance School and a Side Hustle

By Caitlin Menosky

September 20, 2018

The side hustle. If you have been engaged with social media, followed certain blogs, or even searched in a browser “how to make extra money,” odds are you have stumbled upon the concept of a “side hustle.” From college students to corporate workers, it can seem like everyone is infatuated with the new trend.

However, a side hustle in its purest form is just an additional revenue stream if you are already working, or a part-time opportunity if you would otherwise not be generating income.

As undergraduate college students, many of us would fall in the latter category. Whether a part-time shift job, selling handmade goods online, or dog walking, all these opportunities constitute a side hustle. If you have decided that you want one or currently are excelling at your own side hustle, it is important to maintain balance between this opportunity and your education.

The following suggestions, which I have garnered from working my own side hustles (university dorm resident assistant, online tutor, and barista respectively) have been curated get you thinking about getting the most out of your education as well as your own side hustle.

Assess Your Schedule

Whether you keep a planner, a bullet journal or an online calendar, it is important to know your class schedule and any other non-negotiable commitments you may have. From there you can plan out what a typical week may look like. If your side hustle involves a boss or superior to whom you report, it is also important to share and continually update them on your availability.

Being a student first means that classes are times unavailable for the side hustle, but you should also account for study time and time to work on projects. It is important to remain honest with yourself and your availability—it is much better to take on responsibility as your gain confidence rather than needing to scale back when you find yourself too overwhelmed.

Block Out Time

This suggestion is aimed more at those who set their own side hustle schedule, but can work for any activity you wish to regularly schedule. Once you have decided your availability, figure out how frequently, what time(s) of day, and for how long you wish to work.

Ask yourself how much time you want to dedicate to this hustle. Is this going to be a strong source of income for you? What about a creative outlet, or a way to build a portfolio? Before you set aside fifteen-plus hours a week on a side hustle, decide whether you need to, and then if you want to.

While we all want to aim for excellence, you may find an equal amount of rewarding experience from fewer hours of work.

Next, whether you are an early bird or a night owl, knowing the time of day you are most productive will help you decide which times to work on school and which times you can dedicate to your side hustle.

Finally, decide how much time you want to work on your side hustle in each “session.” For example, a tutoring session may run an hour or more in the evening, but setting aside time to knit may just be twenty minutes a few times a day. Finding the most productive time, the amount of total time, and then the length of “work chunks” will help you achieve progress while also maintaining balance.

Set Goals

When you take on additional work, even that which excites you and which brings you joy, it can be easy to lose sight of why you took on this side hustle. It is important to set, evaluate, and then adjust goals you may have for your side hustle.

If your main aim is to make money, assess if you are making the amount you would like and if you are saving or spending it accordingly.

If your hustle was intended to help build a portfolio, what projects have you completed and what lessons have you learned? Are you compiling all this work in a way that is easy to show potential clients or employers?

Setting goals allows you to stay focused and make sure your side hustle supplements, rather than detracts from, other commitments such as school. Allowing yourself to readjust goals and seek inspiration will keep your side hustle serving you rather than feeling like just another obligation.

While side hustles are trendy, there is no reason to intimidated by terminology. Various opportunities, some of which you may have already taken, are side hustles! Take this as the encouragement to keep rocking your side hustle, whether you aim to receive income, gain experience or both.

As a student first, balance can be hard to strike, but by implementing the suggestions above your side hustle can enrich your personal development as well as your bank account.

Caitlin Menosky is a current senior at Loyola University Chicago graduating December 2018. A member of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, Caitlin is majoring in Economics with a minor in History. After graduation, Caitlin wishes to explore the fields of talent development or policy making.

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