Catching Flights, not Feelings, the Smart Way: Income While Abroad
My plan before studying abroad in Madrid was to plan my trips ahead of time—be on top of my schedule to save money and finesse my way all around Europe on a budget. Unfortunately, if you plan on traveling a lot, the money eventually adds up along with other fees, even if you plan three months ahead. Consequently, many students have turned to ways of generating income while abroad. Two Stern sophomores, Zalak Patel and Kayln Kwan, spoke to The Gould Standard specifically about their freelance jobs and shared some advice about their experiences.
Zalak Patel, majoring in Business at Stern, does freelance product campaign content creation for marketing companies. She uses her side hustle as a way to explore things she’s passionate about including filming, editing, and scripting, working around 6-12 hours for every project. In her opinion the pay is worth the amount of hours. She highly recommends using your job as a creative outlet when you can and making good use of connections made at Stern. She actually got this job because a previous supervisor recommended her and called her in for an interview. As far as time management, Zalak said to “get your priorities straight,” and to not forget that you’re a student first. Essentially don’t sign up for more than you can handle and have a schedule with all your exams and due dates listed to not make sure you’re ever overpacked.
Kayln Kwan sees her job as a way to not only explore things she’s passionate about, but also to have a nice break from school work. A job that’s different from what you’re learning can feel very much like a nice break if you’re interested in the work, according to Kwan. She mainly focuses on freelance product design and pitch deck creation, allocating around 5-10 hours per week, with the pay also being worth the amount of hours. Similarly to Zalak, she got her job through a Stern connection. More specifically, she met the founder of a freelancing company through a Stern club where she first joined as a product intern and then became one of the first freelancers. She recommends making sure every project is done with your best effort, as the way to succeed on the platform is through client referrals and word of mouth. Kayln admitted that balancing school work and freelancing can get stressful, but since it doesn’t have defined hours she’s able to be very flexible with her time. Like Zalak, Kayln emphasized to put school first and to find clients in your time zone.
Working while studying abroad comes with many benefits, but may also come with a few downsides. The biggest benefits are more money (obviously), professional experience, time management skills, and enhanced networking skills. Professional experience is something many Stern students strive for and working part time will teach you many things that an undergraduate education just can’t. Jumping at these unique educational opportunities can be very rewarding. In an ideal world this all seems like a good idea, but understanding your limits is important as burnout is a real thing. Planning trips while studying abroad is already stressful and on top of that you’re still working towards your degree. Time management can be very tough and you want to avoid overstressing and work having a negative impact on your studies. Many students end up putting too much on their plate while studying abroad and not having time to appreciate all the new places they visit.
Studying abroad is your time to create memories that will last a lifetime, as cliche as that sounds, but sometimes you can’t always plan out that trip three months in advance. It might be worth it to have some work experience on the side that will serve as a good source of income as well as build your resume!
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