Back in the day, young people didn’t have many choices regarding employment. Retail stores, restaurants, and grocers welcomed all, and while those options paid the bills, they didn’t offer much in the way of flexibility or growth.
Enter the gig economy. Now, anyone with the motivation and skills to work can pursue a variety of service and sales roles. High school students can perform odd jobs or get their start in sales. College students can drive for rideshare apps and offer professional services to people and companies in need. Young professionals can take on side gigs as they pursue their full-time passions — or even turn gig work into a career of its own.
Thanks to the influence of the gig economy, career trajectories of the 2020s will look nothing like the paths taken by people in the 2000s. On-demand contract work has blown the doors open for young professionals to learn the ropes of entrepreneurship as they explore their limitless potential. For young workers with concrete career aspirations and for those who have no idea what comes next, the gig economy offers the perfect starting line.
Consider the following reasons every young person should consider the gig economy when starting out:
Low Barrier to Entry
Recent college graduates know the struggle of applying for “entry-level” jobs that demand three to five years of experience. The gig economy requires none of that. Anyone with a smartphone can start earning money immediately in a variety of fields, no previous experience required. Young artists can sell graphic design services on Fiverr and drive for Lyft on the weekends without going through rounds of interviews. Unlike traditional workplaces, the gig economy welcomes the inexperienced with open arms.
Some students can only work a few hours a week. Others have plenty of time but can’t get enough hours at work. With gig jobs, contractors choose to earn as much or as little as they please based on how much time they have to spare. For students on a ramen budget, a few extra hours a week go a long way toward financial security. Mint recommends students sign up to walk dogs, work as brand ambassadors on campus, or help others as an online tutor to make some extra cash.
Some jobs work with young people to ensure they can go to class, but schedules change quickly. In some cases, students must choose between keeping their jobs and going to class. Gig work takes that power dynamic out of the equation. Workers can work on their own time, even taking multi-week breaks when necessary. How many traditional jobs let employees come and go as they please?
Young artists, writers, editors, and other creatives know the value of a good portfolio. Freelancers have been hustling to get their work noticed for decades, but thanks to the gig economy, portfolio development is easier and quicker than ever. Even the most inexperienced graphic designers and writers can hop on Upwork and start taking on logo work and blog assignments. After a few weeks, a total beginner can build up a respectable history of work.
Variety of Opportunities
Even some 40-year-olds don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. Young people shouldn’t pressure themselves to choose a career path with the whole world in front of them. Opportunity platform Nu Skin envisions a future where people who enjoy doing gig work can do so their whole lives, if they want, without feeling boxed in by any specific role. Young people can test different types of work to discover what they like instead of committing to careers they may or may not enjoy.
In traditional working environments, employers expect even their youngest employees to remain committed to the work for as long as possible. Sometimes that means for a season, but other times, employers want workers to stay for years. Young people with big goals don’t have time to be tied down. By doing gig work instead, young people can work anywhere they want, whenever they want. When the time comes to quit and move on to something better, no one asks for two weeks’ notice.
Invest on the Side
Student loan debt weighs heavily on the younger generations. Many face steep payments after or even during school. With such a heavy financial burden, students and recent graduates without highly lucrative jobs often struggle to pay all their bills, to say nothing of investing for the future. Taking on gig work allows young people to pay down loans, make rent, start emergency funds, and have a little fun on the weekend without going broke.
Young workers and students have endless opportunities in front of them. Why limit that potential by taking on work with boundaries? Gig work provides the flexibility, income, and career boost young people need to find their passions and start down their unique paths to success.