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Side Hustle from Home

Why Millennials are Pursuing Passions through Side Hustles

Vlada Kaporvich | Pexels

Recently, a friend interviewed me for her blog about Zillennial women, and as I prepared for the interview, I realized more and more of my connections — millennials — have started side-projects or “side-hustles”. Writing about millennials has become a tired trope, but as a young millennial, many of the stereotypes resonate. I really do love avocado toast. Millennials are also known for relentlessly focusing on building their personal brand and striving to be purpose-driven in their work.

After talking to some friends who’ve started new side hustles and creative outlets, I found their motivations are aligned with some of the professional characteristics of millennials. The focus on building a personal brand and fulfilling a sense of purpose, combined with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the popularity of pursuing a 5 to 9 passion outside of the 9 to 5 workday.

Millennials are known for being purpose-driven in their work. According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, 60% of millennials said a sense of purpose is part of why they chose to work at their current employer. The search for a sense of purpose drove many of the people I spoke with to start something new. More than financial returns, they wanted a creative outlet to express personal and impactful perspectives outside of their job. The current pandemic has only exacerbated this search for purpose. As many bedrooms have turned into office spaces, millennials in corporate America are facing more concentrated work — without coffee breaks and commutes to break up the effort. For the friends I talked to, this spike in work concentration has increased the desire to build something by themselves and for their benefit. They’re channeling their passions and sharing them with a community they have built. It’s the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit without regard for profitability. Though they may enjoy their 9 to 5 jobs, it’s the 5 to 9 that brings delight.

“I find having my side work gives me a great sense of purpose and brings me a lot of happiness”

In addition to being purpose driven, millennials also tend to focus on building a personal brand. Millennials are known for not feeling tied to one job or company throughout a career. They proactively shape their careers based on their aspirations. To pursue a custom career, building a personal brand is paramount. Building a side hustle supports this endeavor in two ways:

New Skillsets

When you’re working for yourself, ownership falls on you. Many young professionals haven’t had the opportunity to have full accountability of a product and its progress. This level of ownership builds self-confidence and new, tangible, skills that can serve as differentiators in the workplace or the job market.

Intellectual Curiosity

Pursuing a passion outside of work can be a driver to pursue new knowledge which usually widens your perspective. Through developing a broader knowledge base, young professionals can approach problems differently, both for their side project and in the workplace. These new mindsets also strengthen the the ability to bring together seemingly disparate reference points — a key skill in driving innovation.

Expanding your brand by pursuing a passion project that’s personal to you allows you to take the career path less traveled and shape a career that is aligned with your personal aspirations.

“I wanted an outlet to start building my brand and sharing my thoughts and engaging with a larger community.”

I began to understand the popularity of side projects through talking to my friends, but this article is an output of some of the factors above as well. human& was created out of the desire to express, to craft, to labor over something, and to have a finished product that’s fully mine (and Megan’s). Being able to share my interests in this way has shaped my personal development and has served as a way to remind myself to grow in my interests. Through reading, listening, and writing for human& over the past several months, I’ve found that in an ever-changing corporate word, discovering and using your own creative voice is a personal strength.

My postings reflect my own views and do not represent the views of my employer.



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Nimi Oyeleye

Nimi Oyeleye

Innovation Consultant who seeks to understand human experiences. I love learning new things, including where to find the best iced vanilla lattes in Houston.