Should I be doing more?
April 13, 2009 4:40 AM   Subscribe

SecondJobFilter...How many in the hive have a second job? I have a friend who works a great job with the airlines, however, he always seems to dabble in another area on the side...a few years ago he renovated a few houses in the evenings and he builds pools...

so I was wondering how common this was?

How many of you work a second job? What types of jobs are they and is it really worth the the time?

posted by keep it tight to Work & Money (22 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
What types of jobs are they and is it really worth the the time?

Well, obviously they're an economic necessity for some people.
The thing is though, that second jobs tend to be fairly low paid - unless you have a very unique skill, but if you do, then why not use that to get a better day job?
If you choose to work a less demanding job so as to have more free time, then well and good, but if you have enough free time to consider working a second job then wouldn't you be better off taking a more challenging first job instead?
posted by atrazine at 5:01 AM on April 13, 2009

My "regular" job is a decent paying position with the federal (US) government. In addition I freelance in web design and consulting.

The freelance work actually pays much better, per hour, than the regular job. I would actually make more over all if I quit the day job and did freelance full time. But... I don't want the stress of running my own business full time. This way, if I don't want to do freelance work for a while, I don't have to.

As far as it being a necessity: Sometimes it would be difficult without it, and sometimes it allows me to do extra things that my regular salary won't cover. It's definitely worth it.
posted by The Deej at 5:13 AM on April 13, 2009

I worked a second job right out of school so I could pay off $40,000 in student loans quickly while also buying a house and having children before the clock stopped. I went through a period of working a few different part-time jobs concurrently because I was thinking of switching workplaces but I wanted to make sure I liked the workplace before quitting the older job (in my case this worked out well as I hated the newer part-time jobs). Other friends of mine have worked second jobs because they do not have much of a social life and found themselves sitting at home doing nothing on weekends and found it a good motivation for getting out of the house and meeting people. Some people also use their full-time job for the health benefits but their passion is the part-time job, or they hope to change careers and are trying out the work without committing to it. Some second jobs are more social activitist "giving back to the community" jobs that wouldn't be financially survivable without the full-time gig. A lot of unpaid volunteer work is like that too. I always have the unpaid second shift at home too, I can't figure who to send those invoices to.
posted by saucysault at 5:51 AM on April 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

I do not have a second job right now because I am building a business in my new second career, but in my first career I almost always held a second job. Sometimes it was so I could do well (freelancing) and sometimes it was so I could do good (literacy tutoring). Both had huge networking benefits in addition to their financial and/or karmic benefits.
posted by headnsouth at 6:04 AM on April 13, 2009

I'm a full-time high school teacher. On the side, I tutor. I make nearly half again as much tutoring as I do at my regular job, but I would hardly call my tutoring "dabbling." It's more like a business that I'm growing so that one day I can leave teaching and be my own boss (if I choose). It's only worthwhile because it's so lucrative; however, it can be overwhelming at times and I often work seven days a week (and if not seven, then certainly six). In fact, I could make even more money tutoring if I wasn't so committed to keeping teaching my top priority.

At this point, I suppose my job is a necessity because it brings in so much income, which would be very hard to give up. Also, now that the private school where I teach is in poor financial shape and threatening layoffs, I am glad to have something so steady to fall back on if the need arises. While I don't anticipate being one of the people laid off, it could happen, and I'm trying to see it as the potential right time to fully commit to my tutoring business.
posted by katie at 6:05 AM on April 13, 2009

Yeh, I work in Investment Banking and have pretty much always had a second job. Guess it's the grew-up-dirt-poor farm boy in me, a second job is second nature.

And very prudent as well, as it turned out. Since 2003 I have been teaching part time in the Quantitative Finance track at a University here in London. I only did it because the job typically took one evening a week plus a few hours sitting in my office at University on a Saturday AM, but it not only paid the mortgage it also gave me access to an academic library and all the other associated benefits. But most of all, I did it 'cause I really, really enjoyed it. I'm pretty much a freak for finance.

I left banking about one year ago to complete an Executive MBA I'd been pursuing part time since 2005 and, long story short, found my UK University academic experience very, very marketable. I have to say, that genuinely surprised me, I never really thought of that position as work. Now I'm teaching at three UK Universities for a total of about 17 hours a week, and I'm not sure I'm going to return to banking full time. The deeper I engage the academic life, the more I like it.

I'm still getting calls from recruiters (my part of banking is very, very active) but I'm also getting lots of calls from folks that I used to work with in banking, many of whom have suddenly found themselves unemployed, who are wondering what I'm up to now and, once they know, almost always ask how can they get a teaching job?

So yes, a second job is very much worth the extra time. Especially so if its something you truly love and enjoy (as I do finance), and perhaps even something that could possibly one day offer a second career path.

I've actually got two other part time paths that I pursue, portfolio management and a small importing business I've built up over the four years. But those are both somewhat different from a part time job as you've phrased the query, so I won't comment about them. But either could support me & Mrs Mutant, so once again, I recommend pursuing alternatives and options where every they are found.
posted by Mutant at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2009

I worked a second job (and a third job) while in college, but I'm guessing you're specifically wanting info on people who have career-type jobs and then a second job. Now I work full-time and pull in some babysitting work on the side because i want to pay down debt. Lots of people where I work have second jobs because my job has great benefits but doesn't pay a ton in actual money.
posted by fructose at 6:41 AM on April 13, 2009

Most people's "second job" is defined by it being at least one of 1) part time, or 2) more-or-less self-employed. Most people are rarely able to manage more than one full-time job logistically, because once you're at the the 40+hours/week mark, employers have the reasonable expectation that you'll show up when asked, no questions asked. This means it's impossible to do two 8-5 jobs, but it's also generally impossible to do that with shift work, because schedules are variable enough that you'll usually have a least one conflict a week.

With part-time jobs, there's usually a lot more flexibility. The lack of hours is, in part, made up for by slightly more control over one's schedule. If you're only there a day or two a week, the employer fully expects you to have other commitments, some of which will occasionally take priority. So working a full-time job and a part-time job is a lot easier to manage, particularly as a lot of part-time jobs are for things like food service which need help outside normal business hours anyways.

Self-employment gives the ultimate in flexibility. You can put in your 8-5 at the office (or whatever) and still have 15 hours to work with, any of which can be filled by freelancing, baby-sitting, what-have-you. Most people wouldn't generally describe this as a "second job" though. "Job" has the connotation of a formal arrangement with a regular employer; even "moonlighting" suggests something along these lines. Doing a little extra work as a freelancer or by the myriad sorts of odd-jobs that many people use to pay the bills is frequently done though.

In short, this is pretty common, though the form it takes and motivations behind it varies widely. Many people find they have no choice but to have multiple sources of income, as no single job will pay for their lives/lifestyle. Others simply find that they've nothing better to do and like the extra money. Still others can't find full-time employment and thus must cobble together two, three, even four part-time gigs to make ends meet. But yeah, tons of people do this sort of thing.
posted by valkyryn at 7:32 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a full-time day job in an office, and I have a second job at a restaurant for a few reasons: to save money for a downpayment on a house, but also to meet a new group of people, to keep some connection to food service and the fun social aspects of it, and because I actually do better in life when I'm busy (my goals are in focus; I'm more careful about setting up times to hang out with friends; and for example, rather than thinking I have this endless 48 hours or whatever of a weekend that I can fritter away on Metafilter, I know I have 6 hours until I go to work on Saturday night, so I use it well).

It's worth it for me most days, but back when I had low-paying training shifts where I received 1/3 the pay of the other job, it started to seem not worth it, and any time I felt like I should be finishing something up for my day job instead of being there, I'd feel like I was misusing my time. But when the pay hit somewhere around 1/2 or 2/3 and upwards, it has started to be worth it.

Schedule-wise, I typically work about 6-11, which means leaving the day shift around 5. The days I have to leave around 4, I start to feel guilty. And it was too much to work evenings four weeknights, even if I had no weekend shifts. Something like two weeknights and Saturday evening, and maybe even also Sunday evening, is my perfect schedule.

A side benefit I didn't foresee is that because I am working for a bunch of $2-6 amounts, and because it is hard work, I haven't felt richer even though I have more money. My money has begun to seem much more hard-earned than before, and I've been saving like crazy. A $4 latte seems insane when that is a third of the tips you walk away with from certain really slow shifts. So, not only do I have less time to go out and spend money, I've become really dollar-conscious in general, which I've really liked. I feel better when I really appreciate the value of money, and I am glad that I have been able to start saving some. The whole thing has also given me piece of mind that even if something happened to my day job, I'd be okay.
posted by salvia at 7:46 AM on April 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'm a full-time high school teacher. On the side, I tutor.

I’m a full-time high school teacher in a public school and receive a decent salary, but the tutoring helps me pay my student loans and prepare for graduate school.

The lessons take an hour to prepare per week and can be modified for different clients. Using a wiki, such as PBWiki, Wetpaint, or Wikispaces, can be enormously helpful in structuring a tutoring curriculum. I recommend 37 Signals’ High Rise for managing tutoring contacts, clients, and leads.

My modus operandi when preparing lessons is ensuring that they are compatible with my three languages (German, French, and Romanian) and easily adapted to suit a client’s needs, saving me time in the future.

If you have any say in what text(s) your clients use for the language or subject, it is in your interest to determine the most useful and cost-effective. I recommend using an online dictionary at first with your tutoring clients, if possible. As for my preferred materials:

For German (beginner or advanced), I recommend four books: Hammer’s German Grammar and Usage, Wort für Wort: A New Advanced German Vocabulary, Phonothek Intensiv, and Aspekte (textbook).

For French (beginner or advanced), I recommend three books: Contacts: Langue et culture françaises (textbook), French for Oral and Written Review by Carlut and Meiden, and Le petit Nicolas (reader).

Tutoring a foreign language in an affluent suburb can pay quite well, especially for French, German, and Latin.
posted by vkxmai at 7:47 AM on April 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

I am with Salvia--I like to work part-time jobs to keep busy and to expand my circle of friends/acquaintances. I have a full-time job that I love and which pays the bills, but I mystery shop for fun and profit (I quit doing the boring, tedious shops and now only do things like yoga studios, spas, the Empire State Building, etc) and I am part of a performance company where I get paid to perform. These things keep me busy, bring in some extra cash (or in the case of the dance company, at the very least is a self-sustaining hobby), broaden my circle of friends, and, I think, make me a more well-rounded person.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:53 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would ditto feeling more well-rounded. I was gaining a self-image as this neurotic office worker, the type who spend their weekends shopping at luxury eco-hardware stores in Berkeley (nothing against that), but once I paired the day job with hard work at this locally owned punk-style restaurant/bar, and also started taking a fun side class, I felt less like a stereotype and more like my life was this unique mix of stuff I liked, and I stopped putting pressure on any one of them to be this perfect thing, and I started having more fun with my life being a combination of all these different things, if all this isn't too cheesy to say.
posted by salvia at 8:03 AM on April 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

I live in a small resort town where it seems that everyone has a second job. Most people here get a second job because the cost of living is so high and if they hope to save any money it won't be with just one job. Of course, being a resort town there are lots of small part time jobs available (e.g. tour guides).
posted by furtive at 8:40 AM on April 13, 2009

I work in a lab full time, and until a week or two ago, I waited tables on the weekend. It was a great way to make some extra cash, meet new people, and learn about food and wine. However, having to be at work every weekend after a long week at work got to be too much, so I quit. I still pick up the occasional shift though, and it's great.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:49 AM on April 13, 2009

I'm a computer programmer during the week, but on the weekends I'm a skydiving instructor. I do it because I can actually turn a profit on a hobby that I love. There is a fine line though. If you aren't careful, you can get burned out on the hobby and the second job.
posted by indyz at 9:02 AM on April 13, 2009

I've always had a second (or third) job as a nanny. I find it personally rewarding, but it's also provided stability when I've faced layoffs or other issues with my primary job. I know that I can easily increase my hours, work for additional families, etc. It gives me additional income and a piece of mind. Plus I get to act like a kid for 5-10 hours/week.
posted by annaramma at 9:04 AM on April 13, 2009

My husband has a day job in IT, a part-time job bartending and a little side business doing computer stuff. This suits him because he is a high-energy person who likes the variety - sitting watching TV or reading isn't really his thing. And he was laid off for a period last year and the bartending prevented him getting cabin fever and allowed him to contribute to the household expenses, which was important to him.

I haven't had a second job since very early in my career. The hours just don't work - my job can often leak into early mornings, late evenings and weekends - and I don't need the cash enough to work around that. Plus I like my relaxing time. I do volunteer a few hours every weekend though.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:40 AM on April 13, 2009

When I first got out of school and was working a relatively generic 9-5 job, I was really surprised by the number of friends who eventually "revealed" that they had side gigs. One was a paralegal who worked on the weekends at a local (car-sharing) non-profit, another was a guy who had just somehow picked up all these side-gigs through family connections -- like coordinating/administrative stuff for a project at a university.

Honestly, I felt the same way that you do -- should I be doing more? What's up with all these people?

So my answer, I guess, that I've thought about it pretty frequently, but I haven't held more than one job.

When I started a new (full-time) job recently, I made sure it would be okay if my old employer wanted to have me do some freelance work on the side. But given the rapidly deteriorating state of the economy, it never materialized.
posted by polexa at 10:14 AM on April 13, 2009

I work a full-time job as a newspaper designer. A little while ago, a small community once-a-month paper approached me to design their newspaper, and while at first I was reluctant, I finally accepted, and I was really glad that I did that. So yeah I have two jobs, but I didn't actively seek it out, and I only have to devote 3 to 4 days a month to it, so that works out really well for me. My boyfriend actually works three jobs, though they're all part-time.
posted by kerning at 10:42 AM on April 13, 2009

I'm a full-time mother. I had a second job, freelance tech editing on weekends and in the evening. It was too stressful juggling both and I quit.

Now I make a few bucks here and there with my writing. I don't have deadlines for any of the work I do, so if things are stressful or there's something I want to do with my family, I can just ignore the work. This is much better for me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:15 PM on April 13, 2009

Before I got married, there was a period of my life when my best friend had moved out of state and I felt a bit lost. I made more than enough to live comfortably from my full-time day job, but all my hobbies were solitary endeavors. I ended up getting two part-time jobs over for seveal years - teaching Adult Ed classes (Calligraphy and English as a Second Language) that not only filled in my lonely hours, but also allowed for me to expand my social circle. And all the money I earned from those jobs was "icing on the cake," so to speak, so I put it in a special account and eventually used it to be sinfully extravagent and leased a luxury vehicle for four years.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:25 PM on April 13, 2009

I am a full-time graphic designer for state government and I am a short order cook for a summer burger shack. I guess I just need a job where I get to yell at high school kids.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:45 PM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

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