It is no secret that millennials’ debt to income ratio is totally skewed. With college costs rising each year and pay rates staying the same, young adults often find themselves in a pinch. For those of us in the nonprofit sector, this sticky financial situation plaguing our generation often becomes even more intense due to exceptionally low-pay. No, we can’t “just get a better paying job”. It is not obscene for young nonprofit professionals to want to feel passionate about our careers and demand to be paid enough to live. Yet, millennials often find it difficult, if not impossible, to find work that pays us enough to afford rising rents and eat healthy food (we don’t mean avocado toast), let alone be social and build savings. It seems everyone is talking about our side hustle. Even Forbes has taken time to offer us ideas on how to earn cash on the side. So, we at YNPNmaine thought we’d ask you: Why do you side hustle? Do you like it? Do you hate it? When do you think this necessity will no longer be needed?
“Since entering college in 2010, I worked two jobs, sometimes three, to ensure my ability to pay rent, buy groceries, and build a modest savings. In 2015 I finally landed a full-time job with benefits and I dropped my side hustle. Unfortunately, as time went on I found that the hourly rate I was earning did not allow for savings, yet the hours I worked made finding side hustle difficult. It was extremely disheartening to land a professional job at a nonprofit, only to find a year in that I was not earning enough to prepare for a future and was working too many hours to find time for a second job.”
-Alexandra Bishop, YNPNmaine Board of Directors
"For those of us working in the nonprofit sector, the need to have a 'side hustle' can be a harsh reality. Personally, I like to see it as an escape from normal work life. If you have the flexibility to be choosy, find something that is fun and different from your normal work/life routine. As a food truck aficionado, I am able to make some extra cash on the weekends in a fast-paced environment that's fun, has gorgeous ocean views, and away from the city. Don't be afraid to look for something that's a complete 180 from your normal routine."
-Christophe Beaumier, YNPNmaine Member
“I recently graduated with my Master’s of Social Work from USM. I was working two jobs to put myself through graduate school, a graduate assistantship and a waitressing position. Now that I am working full time I’ve kept my serving job to help supplement the high cost of living in Portland. As I one day want to purchase my own home (as I made and LOVED avocado toast for the first time last week, that may be a ways away ), it’s important that I utilize my time in a smart way so that I will one day be able to call a place my own. I want to be able to support myself, and right now it seems that I need to work more than 40 hours a week to make that possible. It can be difficult to give up my weekends but I know that future me will appreciate it. I know this isn’t forever but it’s helping me get through today...and prepare for my upcoming loan payments once my grace period is over.”
-Esther Pew, YNPNmaine Board of Directors Co-Chair
“Having a side hustle, particularly during my early 20's, has been indispensable for both financial, professional, and personal growth. I have used freelance graphic design and textile printing as a means to expand my portfolio, my professional network, dabble in entrepreneurial daydreams, and most importantly, experiment with new ventures I cannot pursue via my day job.
My other side hustles have not been quite so glamorous, but rather practical, serving as a means to pay for unexpected or potential financial hardships. While my day job has proved successful in covering general living expenses, such as Portland's rising rent, monthly bills, groceries and student loans, it has failed to provide additional income for irregular and unexpected expenses. Unforeseen medical bills, veterinary expenses and increasing mechanic visits for my beloved (but senile and elderly) vehicle can add up to several thousand of dollars each year.”
-Sarah McCullough, YNPNmaine Member
“Being a college educated young professional forced to work 2 jobs to land it big in your dream industry is a viscous cycle. You feel mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from working 60+ hours every week. Then feel guilty for complaining when there are millions of underprivileged adults who will work multiple jobs their entire lives and are definitely not in their dream industry. Drown your conflicting sorrows in beer on the weekends. Repeat.”
-Bridget O’Keefe, YNPNmaine Member
“Since I graduated college in 2011, I have been working two jobs (though not the same two). I started working two because I was only able to get a part time job working at a small museum and needed more to cover my bills. Once I did find full time work, I found myself in a large amount of medical debt and a small salary. I also wanted to move into Portland, which is no small financial feat...
I do envy people who find a side hustle that they are passion about. I work a retail job and while I am fairly good at it, I am not passionate about it. I wish I was able to turn a hobby, talent or passion into a side hustle. Maybe someday something will click. But for now, I will stick to retail.
...Sadly, I think this is a trend that will only continue. Millennials are not the first generation that has had to work two jobs. But just as the previous generations saw an increase in households with two workers, I think my generation will see an increase in people being forced to work two jobs.”
-Anonymous, YNPNmaine Member