Transforming a part-time project into a full-time focus
Reflecting on more than a year of pandemic-related disruptions, S&P Global reported that the top industry most impacted by COVID-19 from March 2020 to February 2021 were airlines and the aviation industry. Former flight attendant Sydney Steele, a student from Miami, Florida, reflected on her true passion for politics and enrolled in the global studies and political science program at ASU Online to make the transition.
She had always avidly followed domestic and foreign politics, and volunteering on various political campaigns became her passion project.
“Before the campaigns, I worked as an international flight attendant for British Airways based in London,” Steele said. “However, after getting involved in such an active way, I realized that politics, specifically policy, was something that I wanted to turn into a career.”
She was determined to transfer her skills after she attended an election night event for a congressional candidate whose campaign she worked on. Steele enjoyed the presence of politicians, campaign staff and policymakers, and was inspired to turn her passion project into a future career.
“Even though aviation and politics couldn't be more different, I was able to transfer many skills, such as effective communication, teamwork and conflict resolution, all of which were very beneficial to me in the campaign,” she said.
Steele built relationships with her professors and they eventually served as professional resources to prepare her to thrive in her new career.
For students and professionals looking to navigate the next step, keep in mind that every experience can be a stepping stone to what’s next. Skills like effective leadership, entrepreneurship, management, digital strategy, communication, education and countless others are widely applicable across industries and job settings.
As you navigate opportunities, though, it’s important to find educational programs that offer the technical knowledge you may need to enter new fields. ASU Online is continually expanding offerings — including nearly 50 undergraduate and graduate programs launched in fall 2021 — staying current with industry trends and up-and-coming fields.
Making your passion your career
Your side hustle can inspire a new path in unimaginable ways. Whether you’re building your skillset, adding new income, exploring a creative outlet or simply getting your passion project out in the public, a side hustle can enable you to have the best of both worlds.
For Ashley Smith, a student from Boston pursuing a degree in World War II studies, her side hustle changed everything. Smith holds degrees in both sports management and biology and was immersed in the field of biotech when she started a travel blog. She soon realized that travel writing was her true calling.
“Five years after starting my first blog I started a second one, dedicated to a deeper niche within my passion — World War II travel,” she said. “In pursuing this aspect of my career, I discovered ASU Online's World War II studies master’s program and decided to expand my expertise on the subject. Now, I get to combine my love of travel, creating, educating and encouraging travelers to visit World War II sites around the world. My ultimate career goals absolutely live in the ‘World War II and travel’ sphere.”
Though some can shift careers quickly, for others it may be a slower process. Fortunately, online programs allow you to focus on building new knowledge in an accessible format while you continue working and living without disruption.
“I chose to earn my master's degree from ASU Online because the program I was considering -- a master’s in World War II Studies -- was exactly what I wanted out of grad school,” Smith said. “The classes are exactly what I dreamed of -- highly specific to my exact passion without any classes that I didn't really want to take. Because it is online, I can pursue my degree without having to sacrifice a lot in terms of time away from home and my work. Because travel is my business, I can work on my degree from anywhere with a decent Wi-Fi signal.”
Side hustles can also serve as a way to reinvent yourself. It’s rare today for someone to stay in the same job for more than 30 years according to an employee tenure survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. People change, develop new interests and embrace the journey of discovering new passions and possibilities. When you factor in the constantly changing economy and expanding technology, it empowers the side hustle to become a career or something to fall back on.
“I started my blog as a simple hobby because I desperately needed a creative outlet,” Smith said. “This way I could channel my passions of writing and photography into a project that was all mine. “But the real inspiration behind deciding to pursue it as a full-time career was the fact that it was possible to turn a passion project into a living. The idea of being my own boss, working on my own schedule and getting to create on a daily basis were the main motivating factors. I haven't regretted it once.”