Rise and Grind: How Your Side Hustle Can Boost Your Career

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September, 2018

Written by Katherine Pendrill
Photography by Tara Magloire
Illustration by Victoria Lyons

One in two millennials has a side hustle — an extra job or passion project that helps them pad their wallet. But contrary to the doom-and-gloom headlines you usually see, not everyone is doing it to dig themselves out of a financial hole. While getting paid for your sketches or short stories is cool, it’s the opportunity to be creative that drives many to keep working long, long after they’ve left the office for the day.

But who says your passion projects need to stay separate from your nine-to-five? Just because your side hustle doesn’t happen within the confines of a cubicle, doesn’t mean it can’t be a benefit to your day job. Instead of shutting down that Etsy or Fiverr account, here are some tips for leveraging your inner hobbyist and taking your full-time creative career to the next level.

“As a human, it’s good to remember that at least one thing you choose to do in your twenty-four hours isn’t a necessity, but of your own choosing.”

 

Tara Magloire, Art Direction Student

1. Level Up

You may think you’re great at Photoshop or the queen of social media copy, but that doesn’t mean you know it all. The benefit of having a creative side hustle that occupies your nights and weekends is that you’re constantly learning new skills or sharpening your existing ones. For Art Direction student Tara Magloire, practicing photography on the side has allowed her to better communicate her vision and better speak to her creative team, even when she’s not working on a photography project. Indeed, hybrid creatives who can do it all are quickly becoming the norm, so having a diverse set of skills can be the key to standing out from your peers.

“It always helps to walk into a room knowing I’m able to pull from different areas to craft my style and enhance an idea.” Tara Magloire, Art Direction Student

2. A Brag-Worthy Portfolio

There’s nothing worse than an outdated portfolio, but keeping things fresh isn’t always easy when you’re stuck on some not-so-inspiring projects at work. But when you’ve got a side hustle that’s purely about the passion projects, it’s much easier to keep things fresh and to show that your creative talents go beyond the basics. For instance, Copywriting student Jenai Kershaw’s work creating wedding slideshows and audio documentaries on the side has helped her portfolio stand out from the pack — and even helped her pick up an award for her journalism!

“We don’t always have control over what we learn in school or what projects we’re put on at work, but you get to choose your creative outlet.” Victoria Lyons, Art Direction Student

3. Double The Network

You’ve got a creative BFF, your work wife, and a lunch crew so hilarious they could host their own podcast. But just because you’ve got strong connections at work, doesn’t mean you get a free pass on networking. In order to advance your career, you’ve got to get noticed and having a side hustle is an easy introduction. Just ask Art Direction student Victoria Lyons, who started out simply by posting her illustrations online for fun. Of course, it didn’t take long for people to take notice and for inquires to start pouring in. Indeed, it doesn’t matter if it’s clients, mentors, or simply fans of your work, the ones who follow (and respect) your hustle could be valuable connections for future career moves.

“I do my illustrations for pure enjoyment, and had no intention of earning money from it, until a few friends reached out and asked for custom pieces. Now it’s become a regular side project!” Art Direction student Victoria Lyons

While you might consider yourself lowkey creative, remember that side hustle doesn’t have to be a dirty word — it just might be the key to taking your career to the next level.

If you’re ready to go from side hustle to full-time creative, learn more about our 2-year programs in Copywriting and Art Direction.

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