September 26, 2023


A lot of students end up getting part-time jobs to help them pay for necessities or for extra spending money. But some students choose to work for themselves rather than someone else.

Desiree Richards, a Conestoga graphic design student, has been running her own photography business since she was 16 years old.

“The name of my company is DDR Photography and I offer a variety of photography services like weddings, portraits, family photos, headshots and more, anything to help grow my portfolio in the direction I want to go when I’m finished school, which is photo styling for magazines,” Richards said.

Krystle McGuire, a perinatal nursing student at Conestoga College, became an independent consultant for Arbonne last year after becoming frustrated with having to juggle work, school and family life. Arbonne is a direct sales company that sells environmentally-friendly and vegan health and beauty products.

“At first I thought it was worth working a part-time job for someone else until I came across an opportunity to run my own business a few months ago. It was too difficult having to adjust my whole life, and the lives of my family, through the summer while working for the nursing home, not to mention finding a daycare,” McGuire said.

Nick Miller has been selling vintage and retro items online since October 2014 on Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items. He used to work for an auction house and an art gallery, where his fondness of mid-century décor and artwork grew. Currently, Miller is considering going to Conestoga to study business.

“I sell vintage housewares and furniture. My time is spent between researching different designers, manufacturers and time eras, and searching for items at thrift shops, garage sales, estate auctions and other dealers. From there I offer the items in my online shop, Tubular Retro, after they’ve been cleaned up,” Miller said.

Being self-employed is not for everyone though. It requires self-discipline, excellent time management and passion to maintain and grow a business.

“Self-employment is great for a person who is passionate about a particular thing that they can offer a service for,” Miller said. “You have to be passionate because this is a time-consuming activity and the rewards are slow coming. Part-time work has the benefit of secure and reliable income with a set schedule and hourly rate.”

One of the biggest advantages working for yourself is having the freedom to set your own hours and work around your course load.

“It offers you the freedom to plan around your work and life and it allows you to determine your income; should you wish to make more you can adjust your workload,” Miller said.

Richards said, “It is nice because you can build your own hours and you don’t need to depend on someone else to help you develop your skills and grow. Everything you do is your own personal style and reflects on you. You also have a choice in which direction your company goes.”

McGuire said, “Running your own business has a lot more advantages, especially when you’re in school. Being self-employed is more gratifying and rewarding. Working part-time equals more security but it can be degrading at times. Now I can stay at home with my loved ones, make my own hours and enjoy what I’m doing.”

There are many different entrepreneurial paths students can take while in school depending on their skills. Students can offer different services such as babysitting, landscaping, painting or tutoring; artistic people may want to try their hand at selling their creations online or at craft fairs or can try selling products as an independent consultant.

“I would recommend taking up something on the side and starting your business,” Richards said. “Having the job on the side helps income-wise and also helps to reduce the stresses most students go through with finances during school. Of course, everyone wants to dive head first into it and make tons of money immediately but things that are worth it take time and care, and you always need to remember that what you put in is what you can expect back.”


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