Side Hustles in the Suburbs (Part One)
At North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, you’ll find Felipa Cespedes. She works full time in the school’s admissions department, and it’s her job to be a resource to Latino students — both current and future.
But when her work day comes to a close, she doesn’t always just head home to take it easy.
About five times a month, you’ll see Cespedes at various events, taking pictures with her photo booth.
“Correct, this is my part time, side hustle,” Cespedes said.
Outside of North Hennepin, Cespedes is the owner of FotoGenic, a part-time business she started four years ago as a way to make extra money. FotoGenic is a photo booth that is a fun addition to parties and corporate events.
“I started the side hustle because I’ve always been a busy body,” Cespedes said. “And so after graduating college I still had to figure out a way to help support my family, and boom I love pictures.”
Cespedes is not alone when it comes to picking up an extra job.
According to a survey from the website bankrate.com, nearly four in every 10 Americans have a side job. Most people commonly refer to that second job as a ‘side hustle.’
‘A Flexible Arrangement’
“Essentially I can work where I want, when I want, as much as I want, right? A flexible arrangement,” said Gordon Burtch, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
He’s done research on the so-called, “gig economy,” which has its origins in the 2008 financial crisis.
“The financial crisis actually created the incentives, or the motivation for a lot of people to begin engaging in this type of behavior and it’s peer-to-peer transactions,” Burtch said. “And that’s set the stage for a lot of growth that we’ve seen in these markets. So financial stressors are a huge source of participation, I think.”
Much of Burtch’s research is centered around ride-sharing services like Uber, where the drivers use their own cars to provide rides and make money.
“I think there’s a good chunk of people that actually do not make very good money in the end,” Burtch said. “If you were to back out a calculation of their hourly wage over the course of the year, a good number of Uber drivers, for example, are making less than minimum wage.”
Cespedes says she’s driven for both Uber and its competitor, Lyft.
“I had to let it go eventually because I could be investing more time into FotoGenic, which gives me secure money,” Cespedes said. “And it feels good to have something that’s your own.”
She’s built up a clientele through word of mouth, networking and social media.
In the process, she’s spent thousands of dollars on props and equipment to provide a good quality product.
“My goal is to eventually do this full-time,” Cespedes said.
Until she achieves that goal, you’ll still find her at North Hennepin, doing her best to help students succeed.
“Do I feel overworked sometimes? Yes. But I love it,” Cespedes said. “I mean, for me, I just keep the end goal in mind.”