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How students turn their hobbies into side activities

CNBC’s “College Voices 2020” is a series written by CNBC Fall Interns from universities across the country about maturing, getting to college and launching their careers in these extraordinary times. Janelle Finch is a senior at the University of Missouri in Colombia, majoring in journalism with an emphasis on TV / radio reporting and anchoring with minors in Spanish and sociology. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.

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The coronavirus pandemic has left many students in limbo with unemployment – they have been kicked out of school and many of their internships or part-time jobs to help pay for their education have been canceled. Meanwhile, the bills still had to be paid. So, they had to look for new ways to generate income without leaving their homes.

The youth unemployment rate (16-24) is currently 11.5%, down from 27.4% in April at the height of the pandemic, but it remains nearly double the overall unemployment rate, according to the Department of Labor.

Students got creative while unemployed and in pandemic lockdown: when they weren’t watching the latest versions of Netflix (you remember ‘Tiger King’, right? not?), they discovered new hobbies and revived old ones – from sewing to braiding hair and making candles. And, for some, these hobbies turned into a side activity that brought in much needed income.

Etsy, an online e-commerce marketplace for homemade products, saw revenue double from 2019 as the pandemic and lockdown drove demand for everything from masks to jewelry, candles and more. artisanal. The number of sellers active on the platform jumped 42% to nearly 4,000 a year ago, Etsy said in its third quarter earnings report. Rival Shopify said that between April and June alone, the number of new businesses on its platform increased by 71% from the start of the year.

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Jonnette Oakes, a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said the motivation for starting her own business was her mother and her love for crafts. Oakes said her mother’s sewing skills prompted her to start making custom clothing for herself, which eventually became the ShadedbyJonnette t-shirt company in May 2020. Oakes said her business had started as a general interest in fashion design and that she wanted to occupy her time in quarantine. To get more looks, Oakes started selling their products on Etsy. In her first 3 months, she served over 30 clients and made an average monthly profit of $ 250. Today, it channels its production operations through its own website. Going forward, she said she hopes to bring her business to a store in person. Balancing her life as an academic advisor, graduate student, and business manager isn’t easy, but Oakes agrees her love for fashion is what keeps her business alive.

“Honestly, when I work in my business, I consider it to be my form of personal care,” Oakes said.

A side activity is a great way to make some extra cash – whether it’s to help pay off student loans and other bills, or just to spend extra cash – although some can even turn into gigs. full-time.

Working in the concert economy can offer a range of different opportunities for additional income. More than a third (39%) of young people (ages 18-24) have a side gig, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

So where to start ?

The first step is to figure out what your skills are, and then brainstorm ideas from there, says Chris Guillebeau in his book “Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days”.

“I think a lot of people think they need to go out and learn new skills,” Guillebeau said in an interview with CNBC. “I try to help people understand that the skills they already have are enough.”

A good place to start is to do a Google search, said Stacy Francis, financial advisor and founder of Francis Financial.

“Start by asking yourself what is my specialty? Said Francis. Then do some research around that to determine what opportunities there might be. Maybe there are already jobs available – or maybe this gives you an idea to create your own.

This is exactly what Brittany Bygrave, owner of Noia Butters for 3 years, did when it came to starting her own business.

Brittany Bygrave, the founder of Noia Butters

Photo: Janiyah E. Shelton

“I started my business because I love natural beauty treatments,” said Bygrave. “It has always been my passion and my motivation.”

Bygrave is a 2019 graduate from North Carolina, A&T. She started her own business as a junior in college, selling homemade body butters in her dorm room. She said the idea came from wanting to support communities that did not have access to natural self-care products.

Bygrave said that while there is money in the side business, young business owners shouldn’t expect much profit in the first few months. Now, three years after starting her business, Bygrave has said she can earn anywhere from $ 300 to $ 700 per month. Its best month was earlier this year when there was a national call to action to support black-owned businesses during the Black Lives Matter movement. She said she made $ 2,000 in one month and also received recognition from popular media figures. Bygrave said his advice to young business starters is to remember your “why”.

“Start your business with focus,” Bygrave said. “Have faith and keep in mind why you started!”

Former Syracuse graduate and current UNC student Lianza Reyes saw her as “why” when she started her business: She wanted to be creative and create a source of income to help pay for her education. A 13-year-old writer, in the fall of 2019 Reyes decided to try selling custom poems to help pay for his graduate studies. When she saw that people were investing in her writing, she decided to start investing more money in her craft by offering different options for card stock and frames. July 2020, LinesbyLianza was born. Today, Reyes earns an average income of around $ 75 per month. This money is used for rent, groceries, his business and his hometown of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

“I asked a few people from my home country to help create line drawings and postcards to support my poetry,” Reyes said. “It contributes to the visibility of my business and theirs. “

Lianza Reyes, Founder of LinesbyLianza

Source: Lianza Reyes

Reyes agrees that passion is what fuels start-ups. However, she said the burnout was “very real” and she needed to consider how much of herself she could give to a project before responding to a client’s request.

Reyes said that in addition to running her own business, she also has a part-time job. While this isn’t always the easiest balance for Reyes, she said being a writer and getting people to see her craft was worth the extra work.

If creating your own products and selling them online isn’t your thing, there are a ton of other options for side activities – just think about your skills and what interests you. Arizona State University has identified 9 best high school activities that students can enjoy while studying:

1. Dog walk

2. Create a blog or vlog (video blog)

3. Test new apps and websites

4. Virtual assistant

5. Help people with their to-do list

6. Sell your clothes

7. Become an online tutor

8. Respond to surveys

9. Self-employment

And, there’s no reason you can’t try more than one of these ideas – see what you love the most and what makes you the most money.

An important step, says Guillebeau, is to promote your business whenever you have the chance. A lot of designers aren’t always good at it, but that’s how you get the word out and get more business. An easy way to do this is to create a Facebook page.

Besides paying your bills, Francis said starting a business in college can be a great way to start saving money. In your 20s, retirement isn’t usually a high priority on your mind, but when you invest your money, it gets worse over time. So the earlier you start, the more money you have.

“Putting money in a Roth IRA or savings account now can lead to ‘quadruple’ savings in the future,” Francis said. “Ancillary activities need to be able to work for young business owners now and in the future. “

“You don’t have to be a modern day Steve Jobs,” Reyes said. “Just pick something you’re passionate about and run with it. “


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