Careers Learning Student-made

Side projects: The escape you need from studying

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A side project is a project you have outside of your academic studies. It could be of any size, from running a blog to setting up your own small business whilst studying. Your hobby could even be turned into a side project. For example, you could have your own online shop on Etsy making and selling crafts if you’re creative. The list goes on – you could take anything and turn it into a side project.

For me, my side project is writing – I am in the process of trying to establish myself as a freelance writer. I write for a couple of publications and a non-profit organisation, and sometimes I write for my own blog too. To others that don’t enjoy writing, it seems like more work. To me, it’s a hobby I thoroughly enjoy. It’s also taught me an awful lot about myself as a writer, and how to improve my work. I’m now more confident in what I produce and have an abundance of new skills for my CV too.

University is the ideal time to have a side project. You can find so many resources online for ideas and guides on how to start one. It’s important to do your research and know what starting a side project entails, depending on what it is you want to do. But, here are reasons as to why being at university is the ideal time to start a side project.

It’s an escape from academic studies.

Writing for fun is my downtime from studying. It’s great to switch off from writing academically. When I feel overwhelmed with academic work, sometimes picking up a notepad and jotting down ideas for a new piece of writing is enough to chill me out. A side project is a great escape from academic studies. Of course, it’s important to get the balance right. Getting good grades should still be the priority but having a side project is a great distraction during stressful times. It’s also a good source of motivation. If you enjoy your side project and tell yourself you can go back to it once you’ve done your university work, it keeps you motivated to complete your work.

It’s flexible.

The best thing about having a side project is that it fits in around your existing commitments. It doesn’t have to take over – although of course it may lead to bigger things, and even full-time work and self-employment in the future. But, for now, it’s convenient and you can pick it up whenever possible. It can fit around your studies, and you can decide how much you take on depending on your circumstances. For example, when I have assignments due in, I don’t write as much. However, during the Summer, I’m able to write as much as I want to.

There’s a chance you might get an income.

This depends on the type of side project you have, and this shouldn’t be expected straight away. Also, you shouldn’t expect a steady income. Your availability and other commitments will determine how much money you can earn. If you’re creating and selling homemade goods, this is a good way to earn some pocket money for student life. Similarly, so is starting up as a freelancer of some sort. Make sure you’re careful with your money though if you don’t have a part-time job and your side project becomes your only source of income. Anticipate the quieter periods, for instance around exams and deadlines, and make sure you put money aside for these times, so you don’t struggle.

It could provide you with career insights and ideas.

Starting a side project can take you anywhere. If you try something new, you might discover a new interest and a new potential career pathway. If you play to your strengths, as I do by writing, it might strengthen the ideas you have on what career you want in the future. By writing, I have made new contacts and have had valuable advice given to me by people in the industry. It has also led me to start an online course in Digital Marketing. All of this has made me consider my future career and where I would like it to take me. I wouldn’t have had these opportunities without my side project.

It’s a chance to learn new things, develop new skills, and grow!

Starting a side project at university is the ideal opportunity to try something new. Consider it “no strings attached” – you don’t have any commitments, and there’s nothing to lose by trying something different. And of course, you don’t have to – you can turn your hobby or your strengths into a side project, as I did. It’ll still allow you to grow and develop new skills. I am now more confident, have some business skills, and I have an awareness of web design as I have set up my own website as an online portfolio. There are so many resources and tutorials online – learning a new skill has never been easier!

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