For a few months in the fall of 2012, I became something of an expert in Craigslist studies. A recent college graduate, I was a part-time unpaid intern and part-time retail employee. New to New York, I lived with four other underemployed recent grads in a three-bedroom apartment in Bed-Stuy, sleeping on the top bunk of an IKEA children’s bunk bed called "TROMSO." I was living mainly on graduation gift money and savings from a summer spent working at UPS, supplemented by my $10 an hour retail gig. After one too many meals of $1 Trader Joe’s spaghetti noodles, I found a solution: Craigslist studies.
I was a graduate student in Chicago when I lied about my height and became the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Talking with my friends in similar positions to mine, it started to seem like having a job and a half at 25-ish was the norm, or at least a norm, rather than an anomaly. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in August 2014, about 6.8 million people held more than one job. A little over half of those, 3.6 million people, had a secondary part-time job in addition to a primary full-time job. Although multiple job-holders only make up just 4.7 percent of the employed population, that adds up to more than the populations of Los Angeles and Chicago put together. Even for those with non-essential side hustles, it's a response to wage stagnation, if nothing else; more is more, so work if you can get it.
Matthew is a 24-year-old freelance illustrator and a former professional "sensory panelist" for a frozen foods company. We recently talked about his experience eating french fries and other frozen fried foods for four hours a day, three days a week over the course of eight months. "I'd come home with huge blisters in my mouth from the salt," Matthew said. He earned $4,200.
All of which is to say, don’t quit your day job, or if you do, don’t join a 20-person brass band.
I am in love with this essay by Mairead Case about the clowning side hustle she did when magazine work was drying up during the recession. It is also about George Schindler’s Balloon Sculpture: An Illustrated Beginners Manual, which frankly, sounds amazing.