People Magazine Feature

The following is an excerpt from a People Magazine article

The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Side Hustle as Coronavirus Upends College Grads’ Career Plans

written by Wendy Grossman Kantor. Read the full article here.

PEOPLE’s Real Tips for Real Life presents practical answers to some of the most commonly asked questions around finance, employment and preparing for the future — even when that future can seem very uncertain.

Taylor Graustein is the first to admit she had "high hopes" during her senior year at Wake Forest University — but when all her plans fell apart, the 21-year-old turned to a side hustle that became her saving grace.

“Everything happened at once,” says Graustein, who found her spring semester classes and an internship opportunity both canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “It was just immediate panic and anxiety. Where do I go? What do I do? What’s going to happen?”

After an extended spring break with a friend in Orlando, she drove back to campus in North Carolina, grabbed her belongings and some toilet paper from her dorm (because her dad said he couldn’t find any) and went home to Harrison, New York. She tried searching for other job opportunities — but there weren’t any.

“Getting any jobs or interviews or speaking with companies is so not what’s going on right now,” says Graustein, who majored in communication and minored in psychology and entrepreneurship. “It seems so unlikely that anyone is looking to hire.”

Instead, she hired herself. From her family's home in Westchester County, she is now devoting all her time to a side-hustle she launched in January. Benefiscent, her hand-dipped candle company, donates 20 percent of sales to research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center — where Graustein’s mother received treatment for brain cancer prior to her death when Graustein was in the eighth grade.

The more time she devotes to her business, the more she thrives. Graustein says the efforts have even resulted in higher sales.

Across the country, recent college grads like Graustein are in similar shoes, reporting canceled internships and rescinded job offers.

“It’s tough graduating into the worst economy in our lifetimes,” Ramit Sethi, the 37-year-old author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, tells PEOPLE.

But don’t just wait out the bad economy, advises Dr. Rebecca Gill, a communications professor at Wake Forest. She believes now is the time to pick up a side hustle, create your website and build your brand. In short, use this time to create your own opportunities.

“What you do now matters,” says Gill, who teaches a course about side hustles and the gig economy.

Gill, 43, encourages people to think about what they'll say at a job interview six months or a year from now, and ask themselves hard questions: What will you tell potential employers about what you did after graduation when you couldn’t find a traditional job? Are you going to tell prospective employers that you watched every episode of Tiger King 17 times? Or are you going to tell them you made and sold face masks, tutored underprivileged kids, homeschooled your younger siblings or ran your own company like Graustein?

The first step is to stop worrying — everyone is in the same boat.

“There’s not one universal way to handle this,” says Gill. “Everybody is having a different experience and taking different pathways. Be creative.”


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