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Gen Zers’ Side Hustles Sometimes Turn into Full-Time Careers

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Mar 25, 2024


Taking advantage of digital technologies and the lessons they learned about working remotely during the pandemic, members of Generation Z are developing side businesses for more than just making extra money—they could become the jobs that these young people really want, The Washington Post reported.

This generation is using the internet to develop these side hustles not only for the extra cash, but to develop their skills, build their relationships and use their creativity.  Examples of such side work include selling online tutorials, products and services and influencing on social media, the Post reported.

“You just can’t rely on one income anymore,” said one 25-year-old, who quit her full-time, six-figure data analytics job to become a full-time side hustler offering tips on personal finance and promoting products and brands across social media. She told the Post that she’s on track to make more money from this work than from her corporate job by end of year and expects that to increase “exponentially” in the years to come.

Setting up such a business is easy to do, due to the low barriers to entry, academics who study business and entrepreneurship told the Post.

“Now you can easily spin something up,” said Aaron McDaniel, an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, in an interview with the Post. “Platforms … help you take a creative outlet and make money.”

Finding himself between jobs, one 24-year-old in Columbus, Ohio started posting on LinkedIn about what he knew about traveling with points. People started asking him for personalized advice and help in planning trips. Now he charges $150 for a 75-minute consultation and $175 for trip planning. He said that  he and his wife, who does brand deals on social media, made $3,000 side-hustling last month. Previously, the couple was living paycheck to paycheck.

“Things have changed to be able to just afford the normal stuff in suburban middle-class America,” he told the Post. “You have to do extra stuff to do that.”

Some young workers are undertaking digital side hustles while working full-time and going to school, the Post reported, These jobs help them cope with the increasing cost of living, and enable them to develop skills and enhance their résumés in order to get the jobs that they want.

“The majority of our college life was online,” said a 22-year-old Huntington Beach, Calif., resident in an interview. “We didn’t really have that time to make connections at the university, … and a lot of entry-level jobs are going to people recently laid off from the big companies.” This woman, who plans to graduate from  California State University at Long Beach,  has a full-time job in sales at a drug and medical device manufacturer but also gets paid to help companies, organizations and individuals with social media. She also babysits sometimes. She sees side hustles as “essential” in today’s economy.

Some young people make more money on their side hustles than from their regular jobs. One self-proclaimed Zillennial, someone on the cusp of Gen Z and Millennial, said that she's made more money through her digital side hustles than from her six-figure salary so far this year. She makes sponsored posts on Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn, and teaches people technical skills and how to get jobs in data analytics on LinkedIn Learning. She also has a shop on Printify, where she sells T-shirts for data enthusiasts.

“I want to show my family and others that there are ways to find success, express yourself and break away from archaic professional money mindsets,” one 24-year-old told the Post.

Young workers expect Gen Z’s interest in side hustles to continue to grow as companies cut costs and trim benefits. “There’s a lot of distrust with companies,” said one. “Loyalty is dead now.”