Every generation of professionals enters adulthood with a different set of societal and historical events that help to shape their career and ambitions. For the Silent Generation it was WorldWar II, for the Baby Boomers it was the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, for the Gen Xer’s it was the fall of communism and the Feminist Movement. As for millennials, they have entered the workforce in the turn of the recession. When loans for school were sky high and wages for entry level jobs, rock bottom. Smacked in the face with these issues millennials decided to write their own rules. Enter the side hustle.
What exactly is a side hustle? A side hustle is a way for people to explore their passion and to generate extra income while they might be working full time at a more stable 9-5 job. A millennial might side hustle as a barista, dog walker, owner of an Etsy Shop, Uber driver or yoga instructor. People often also side hustle to tap into creative energy, ramp up a different skill set, or pursue a career that might not have even existed when they graduated. According to the Levo Institute 2017 Report, 75 percent of the US workforce by 2025 will be made up of millennials, and 46 percent of respondents reported having a side hustle.
Working on the side can help give you skills and a window into a career you might want to dip your toe into but aren’t quite ready to make the full leap. Mikayla Schmidt, who side hustles as a spa manager when she isn’t working at her day job as a fashion model says, "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."
Side hustling doesn’t always have to feel like, well, a hustle. In fact, it can have a lot of great benefits. Amanda Porter who works as studio coordinator |says that her side hustle as an 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."
For some hustlers the goal purely is financial. Mary Sauer set up to save $5,000 over three months along with her husband. Bringing in extra money through side work helped her meet her target. She wrote on Levo, “My job as a freelance writer is basically one big side hustle, but I’ve started to pursue different work outside of my regular clients as a means of saving money even more quickly. I set a goal to make $1,000 above and beyond what I typically do by picking up working through job boards like ProBlogger and Craigslist.”
Millennials also side hustle to contribute to social good and to help their communities. Sexual health columnist side hustler Emma Kaywin says, “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."
"Millennials see some things differently than their predecessors. They don’t like to feel confined to one set career path, which is one reason why side hustles have become so popular. They value flexibility and options, which is a benefit to businesses as they often end up with multi-skilled workers – versus those with just an aptitude for one specific job," Lauren Griffin, Senior Vice President, Adecco Staffing USA, said.
It’s clear that millennials’ side hustles aren’t always strictly financially oriented. Many are motivated to fuel their passion, try out a new industry or channel their creativity and energy or to test out their talents. Trends have a funny way of changing, and it remains to be seen if side hustling will continue to be the norm or if Generation Z has something else in store.