3 min read

4 Ways College Students Got Creative During the Pandemic


Written by Mel Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 09/10/2021, edited: 08/18/2022

Due to COVID-19, college students everywhere are ditching the corporate world for self-employment. According to Michigan State University's Recruiting Trends report, the number of new hires from the graduate pool is expected to drop by 4,000+ in 2021. To adapt to the changing job market, more than 75% of students switched jobs or reconsidered their career plans.

For students and recent graduates, side hustles aren't just sources of extra income — they're replacing traditional day jobs. Etsy's active user base increased by more than 40% in 2020 alone. "This global crisis has made me realize that the only way for me to have a stable job is to create my own business and put aside my ideas about finding the perfect job in finance,” said Montclair University student Laura Vasco in an interview with CNBC.

So how's the self-employed life treating students and graduates in a socially distanced world? To find out, we sniffed out 4 stories of students who got creative with their side hustle during the pandemic.

Dog walking

Annie and PJ are just 2 of thousands of dog walkers who made extra cash with Wag! during the pandemic.

Annie is an Environmental Science student who resides in Washington with an older pup who isn't able to walk like they used to. Annie describes herself as a "big runner", which makes her the "pawfect" fit for hyper hounds who need more than a quick walk around the block!

A student at Western Washington University, PJ has completed 250+ pet care services, earning her a 4.9-star rating from dozens of happy pet parents. Check out PJ's achievements to discover why Goshen pet parents choose her again and again!

There's no better way to earn extra cash in college than caring for pups. Are you a university student who wants to try your paw at dog walking? Check out these helpful guides to get started! (Or apply to become a dog walker with Wag! here.)


Rainey Scarborough, a photographer and student at the University of North Carolina, said in an interview that the "pandemic has pushed her to move away from working for organizations, and instead do more work that she finds personally interesting." While she's working toward her degree, she's also selling prints and doing product photography for a friend's small business.

College students aren't just making money off their photography — they're making history. Student-led projects like "A COVID Diary" (University of Michigan) and "Telling our COVID Stories" (Trinity College) offer an inside look at how students maintained creativity and resilience during lockdown.


The demand for online tutoring has skyrocketed due to COVID-19. With some parents paying up to $100 per hour for tutors, it's a lucrative gig. In online forums, student tutors are sharing their marketing techniques: posting flyers, contacting school guidance counselors, and signing up for online tutoring sites.

Some student tutors aren't charging a dime for their services. In summer 2020, a group of university students from across the country joined forces to create COV-Tutors. The group offers free online tutoring in all core subjects for K-12 students. Talk about lending a helping paw to the community!


Painting, crocheting, making jewelry — these are just a few ways college students got creative (literally) with their side hustles in 2021. First-year students at New College Florida are selling everything from Dungeons & Dragons merch to hand-braided clothes. Some college student sellers on Instagram are even peddling pandemic-themed goods like handmade face masks and care packages.

Universities across the country are preparing art students for post-grad life as small business owners. Rutgers Business School offers an Etsy craft entrepreneurship workshop, while Cuyamaca College offers a craft industries entrepreneurship degree.

82% of students are hopeful about the future of American entrepreneurship — and after reading some of these stories, it's easy to see why! Want to show off your dog walking business acumen? Tag us in a snap on Insta @wag. Don't "furget" to add #wagwalking for a chance to get featured on our feed.

Comments (0)

Leave a comment

Your name




Add photo(s) of your petoptional