Students are sometimes shielded from the ‘real world’ when in campus and college. Most don’t have responsibilities and have enough cash to see them through the semester. The routine in college is quite basic: class on weekdays and partying on weekends and the process repeats itself until recess. But for the few enterprising and forward-thinking students, there are boundless opportunities to make an extra coin in campus
While campus offers the room for talents and hobbies to blossom, many students bury their non-academic aspirations. It is not supposed to be that way. Quite evidently from the recent past, creative efforts are as lucrative as the demanding office jobs. And better still, creativity-reliant jobs are more fulfilling and offer freedom than the 9-5 job that many yearn for.
But in college you are at the peak of your energies, creativity, freedom and support to experiment with the many things you would have wished to do in high school but were stifled. You have friends, a forum or a market to test your ideas; sometimes you even have a roof over your head provided by parents or the university, thus giving you a lot of time to juggle both studies and a side-hustle.
Most of the time, many students, especially in humanities and social sciences have barely three lesson a day. Essentially only a half a day is covered and the rest is normally wasted on a watching movies/series or playing FIFA. This time can be utilized effectively to generate some income while honing your skills that can prove worthwhile in your future endeavours. Here are 5 top ideas worth pursuing.
Many students are talented in writing but often don’t understand that they can make money easily by writing to newspapers, magazines or academic papers (a growing international demand). All it takes is interest and passion in writing. Add to that some good understanding of grammar, a curious and inquisitive mind and you are good to go. Next you will need some proper understanding of the publication and get the contacts of the editor.
As long what you write is in line with the publication’s interest, odd or funny, you always stand a good chance of being published. Have a probing mind and open your eyes for anything you notice worth sharing; a photo, graffiti, a talented student worth profiling, a news event in campus worth public knowledge, something investigative like say on drugs, are some of the things can interest editors.
There is some reasonably good money to be earned. On average a short piece can earn you about Ksh 3,000 and longer one Ksh 8,000. Sometimes it could be more or less depending on the publication but if you manage four small pieces a month, you see you will have some Ksh 12,000 at the end of the month. If a longer one, it is Ksh 32,000. You will be amazed that it doesn’t take much. There are many students who have established themselves as seasoned writers and graduating to be even greater writers and good jobs in the media.
2. Sales and marketing
If there was one job that will suck life out of you, it has to be sales. Yet it is the most readily available job for the many graduates. Predictably, most drop sales and marketing jobs after picking their first paycheck. A sales job for a bank or an insurance company is particularly an impossibly difficult task in a fast moving city like Nairobi where people are characteristically impatient. But you can learn a lot and make crucial contacts for your next career move.
Campus provides a special forum for you to sharpen your abilities especially on communication and people handling skills. You can work on your charisma, sales-pitching skills by trying it on your friends. You can also try your internship earlier on especially if you are in a business-related course. This will help you to be continually busy or even promoted owing to your experience upon completion of your diploma or degree.
You can also start some small time business on supplies, given that campus is normally a microcosm of the country, you will interact with as many characters as you will ever meet in the outside world. There is a lot of money in sales, what with the commissions, but it is a job that needs a lot of patience, learning and a tolerant attitude. These are skills that you can easily rehearse while in campus rather than getting out there and starting to struggle with files talking to strangers who have no respect absolutely for your job.
3. Student politics
Politics is often ignored and frowned upon by many students, but it is a route to national politics. Think of James Orengo, Martha Karua, Kabando wa Kabando, AbabuNamwamba, Joshua Kutuny who were at one time student leaders.
These individuals had it right from the word go in college. They may not be the best representative we would wish to quote here, but at an individual level, they demonstrate the latent capacity of student leadership. Although we know we shouldn’t be in politics for the money, the reality is that student leaders brush shoulders with national leaders and subsequently are exposed to more opportunities.
University administration pays student leaders a stipend for their upkeep and is often a phone-call away to the VC.
So if you are charismatic, can work up a crowd, you are loud and can mobilize 120 students at the blink of an eye, you better start making contacts in big places. But remember, the world of politics is murky.
Although sports can be demanding and might be a tough call to balance school and sports, it offers a unique opportunity to showcase your talent with guaranteed support. Football, basketball, hockey and rugby clubs often scouts for talent in campuses and it is common to find students playing for professional teams, for instance the University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine.
This is especially meaningful for individuals with talent that was tapped well in high school. With the freedom and improved resources, it is always good to give it a shot and while at it, getting the necessary contacts.
5. Public speaking/performing arts/broadcast media
For those given to too much talking, but not interested in politics, they can refine their oral skills in public speaking, performing arts or even giving broadcast media a shot. You can depend on the various audiences like the church, the bible study groups, the Rotaract meetings, Red-Cross brainstorming sessions, AIESEC, SIFE just about anywhere you can find a crowd that can listen to you, you can grow your confidence and perfect your skills as you are routinely entrusted to be an MC at events. That normally comes with money, of course.
So there you have it. Next time you opt for a Series or FIFA at 2 pm, think twice. That time can be used to get you money elsewhere. Go forth and try out something new this year, you might need a job after college!
By Silas Nyanchwani