This past week at WayUp’s Office Hours panel on art and design careers, five influential young professionals spilled their secrets to building long-lasting careers in creative fields that are notoriously hard to break into and even harder to stay in.
One of the biggest takeaways over the course of the event was the importance and influence of “side hustles” in creating a robust career, especially if you want to work in a creative industry. What’s a side hustle? At its core, it’s another smaller job that provides flexible hours and can fit around a more full-time gig, and when it comes to working on the side, our panelists have done (and continue to do) it all: Run pop-up art shows, put on large-scale art exhibitions and design wedding invitations, all in the name of passion projects.
But aside from the obvious financial benefit, you may be wondering what can be so great about taking on a side gig in addition to your full-time work. After all, that means less free time for you and could also mean less brainpower going towards your actual job.
However, having a side hustle can actually do wonders for your career in addition to putting a little extra cash in your pocket. Here are the top 3 reasons why that passion project is totally worth it.
1. You’ll Have a Creative (or Just Different) Outlet
Regardless of the industry you go into, it’s common to get stuck in a rut and feel like you’re doing the same work day in and day out. Even if you love your job overall, you’re not immune to that feeling of restlessness.
This is where a side hustle comes in handy. If you feel like something’s missing from your full-time gig, nothing’s stopping you from pursuing other passions before and after work or on the weekends. We’re living in the generation of the side hustle, so why not take advantage of that moment?
When she started her project Culture Island, artist and writer Sara Radin felt like she got a level of autonomy that was missing from her full-time job. “I felt like I was able to create something I had full control over,” she said. “All of this personal development and growth has stemmed from me taking to the initiative to do side projects and have passions outside of my job. That’s really what keeps me going.”
But Radin also highlights that as the old saying (kind of) goes, with great passion projects comes great responsibility.
One important consideration when taking on a side hustle? Radin says to see how your company feels about it first to make sure there are no surprises down the road, or if you’re job searching and also looking at working on a side gig, make sure you’re asking potential employers questions pertaining to how they feel about colleagues taking on passion projects or other initiatives outside of the office.
How do you broach the subject? Ask one of the following questions during job interviews:
- “What sort of activities or passion projects do people here work on outside the office?”
- “Do you see employees having other hobbies or passion projects outside of work as an advantage or a disadvantage to their jobs?”
- “What are some of your hobbies and other interests outside of your work?”
The bottom line is that you should aim to be as transparent as possible if you’re taking on outside work.
2. You’ll Be a More Competitive Job Applicant
When you’re applying to jobs, especially when you’re at the start of your career, other applicants could have more experience in your particular field, but if you bring more skill sets to the table and have a unique perspective on how things can be done, you’re sure to stand out from the crowd and be seen as a valuable potential hire.
Plus, by taking it upon yourself to learn other skills and push beyond your comfort zone, you’re showing hiring managers that you’re ready and willing to keep expanding your knowledge even when you’re on the job. Who wouldn’t want to hire a self-motivated person like that?
3. You’ll Apply Your Side Gig Knowledge to Your Full-Time Gig
What you learn from your passion project or side hustle can definitely help you in whatever your main role is.
For example, given her history of working in the art world and other design projects, Sara Radin organized several art-centric employee events when she was at Converse. Coworkers could decorate their favorite pair of Chucks or go on a field trip to art fairs, and it helped give her cred during her time at the company.
Or, if you’re moonlighting as a graphic designer, for example, the day might come when your boss asks you to help design a social media campaign, putting your underground skills front and center. Becoming that clutch employee who can help in a variety of situations immediately makes you an MVP, and that only furthers the opportunities that come your way.
Side gigs are all the rage nowadays, and taking one on could mean serious business for your career. Plus, you never know: Your side hustle might turn into your full-time hustle someday.
Want to get more career wisdom from influential young professionals? Check out our Office Hours events this summer, taking place in New York City and Washington D.C.