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Forget 9-to-5: College students find alternate ways to earn extra cash

Trevor Villalobos, a sophomore political science major, checks his ranking in fantasy basketball at Westminster College’s Giovale Library on Oct. 5. Villalobos is one of 44 million Americans who has a “side hustle” — he makes extra money on the side playing fantasy sports. (Photo by Jesse Cervantes)

Trevor Villalobos, a sophomore political science major, checks his ranking in fantasy basketball at Westminster College’s Giovale Library on Oct. 5. Villalobos is one of 44 million Americans who has a “side hustle” — he makes extra money on the side playing fantasy sports. (Photo by Jesse Cervantes)

In their spare time, Alex Cooper runs a clothing company, Jennifer Librizzi posts YouTube videos and Trevor Villalobos plays fantasy sports. But they have one thing in common: they each hustle to earn extra cash on the side.

Side hustles — the trade people work alongside their regular job — are becoming normal among college students and millennials.

“When you receive paychecks from different sources, it allows you to take more chances in your regular career,” said Jeff Rose in an article for Forbes. “More income means more options. More options equals freedom.”

The good news is anyone can start a side hustle and over 44 million Americans have one, according to a survey by (PSRAI) for Bankrate in July.

“Of those ages 18-26 with a side hustle, 96 percent say they do it at least monthly, compared to 83 percent of those who are older than that,” said Bankrate in an article about the survey. “Millennials, as a whole (ages 18-36), typically earn less from their secondary source of income than older generations.”

Millennials are earning a considerable amount from side hustles and are more likely to rake in some extra cash than any other generation. To be exact, 28 percent of millennials have a side hustle and 19 percent of those are making more than $500 a month.

The “fantasy sports” hustle

Trevor Villalobos, a sophomore political science major, said he does “a little bit of video gaming” but gets most of his side money through fantasy sports.

“I play a lot of fantasy football and now that basketball is around that’s my favorite sport, because it is the easiest one to win off of,” he said.

Because of his love for basketball, Villalobos said he developed a strategy for fantasy sports. He said he predicts when a player is going to go off — make more points than usual — based on playing statistics, history, rivalries and more, and uses it to his advantage.

“You have to watch out for all of that stuff if you really want to be good at fantasy basketball and football, because all of that factors into it,” he said. “I’ve always been an avid basketball fan… I like understanding the math side of basketball. I like understanding people’s stats and how that is going to translate [to fantasy sports], which really helps, because that is the whole gist of it.”

He calls the money he makes from his side gig his “fun money” and uses it on just about everything — but hasn’t needed to use it on his bills yet. When he and his girlfriend are short on cash, he said he could potentially turn it around and make $300 in a night, which gives them the opportunity to go out and have fun.

But Villalobos said he isn’t sure if he would make a career out of it.

“I’m going into law soon, so a gambling habit is probably not a good idea,” he said, but noted he will continue to play fantasy sports as long as he can.

The “apparel” hustle

Alex Cooper, a marketing major and owner of Bone Dry Apparel, started his side hustle to build a central clothing brand and to create a cohesive project to learn about branding and marketing — something he said he couldn’t learn in a college classroom.

“The first time I [designed] tees were in the fall semester of my sophomore year,” Cooper said. “I went to shop online for some samples tees and saw page after page of tees that I didn’t enjoy, and I thought that I could do something better. And so, I searched through all the designs I [drew] so far and came back across bone dry.”

Cooper started working on that first design during his senior year of high school. At the time, he never thought his designs would turn into a clothing brand, but he is now in his fourth season of designs for Bone Dry apparel. His goal is to be a creative director for a company that is focused more “on the bigger picture” than traditional advertising is.

The “YouTube” hustle

Jennifer Librizzi, a senior photography major, said she has a strong interest in video and video production and has been making YouTube videos for about a year.

“When I started, I had no intention of thinking, ‘This is a cool way to make money’ because when you start YouTube, first of all, it can be extremely difficult to get subscribers,” she said. “It’s very hard to get yourself out there.”

But after she posted a video about lipstick, she said it “blew up and went viral overnight” and she ended up with thousands of subscribers.

Librizzi’s said her quick success on YouTube brought her a lot of hate. She posted the viral video because she thought it would be funny but never imagined it would attract the negativity it did.

“There are so many people that try and hustle and to get to where I am right now on YouTube, and it can take years for them to get where I am, and I did it in a week,” she said.

The video also brought positivity, as some members of the YouTube community complimented her on her video and personality.

“When I found out how much money I made off of that specific video, I was like, ‘Holy shit — I could do this and make a lot of money,’” she said. “People who have millions of subscribers, that is their full-time job because they make that much money. That lit a fire under my ass. I was like, ‘We could so do this. This would be so fun if I created this platform and had [a] voice.’”

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Jesse is a junior communication major who loves graphic and web design. His work is rooted in research, experimentation and finding imaginative solutions to complex problems. His ultimate goal for his design is to enhance a user’s experience when he or she navigates through his work. When he isn’t designing, Jesse spends most of his spare time traveling and hiking in his backyard, the Wasatch Mountains. Jesse is excited to put his background and skills to use designing The Forum’s monthly newspaper as its production manager.

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