My side hustle started back in elementary school. I worked with a couple of friends from down the street and my sister to scrape the wooden sides off of pencils with a scissor blade, then colored and wrote on them to make custom made pencils, which were then sold out at community gatherings.
My sister and I did the usual other stuff as well, like lemonade stands and garage sales, whenever we needed to save up money for a new video game. The side hustle continued in high school, when I taught myself graphic design in Adobe Illustrator. I started doing freelance design for my school and my mom's business to save up some extra money.
Starting A YouTube Channel
When I started college at Georgia Tech in the fall of 2015, things really began to pick up. As a freshman, I started a YouTube channel called MKatwood, where I made videos edits of my favorite cartoons in my free time using self-taught skills in Adobe Premiere Pro. What started out as a fun venture quickly turned into a way to steady income through advertising and sponsorships with each new video, which helped to offset the cost of housing and school.
I was shocked as my subscriber count continued to grow, and I remember hitting each milestone–100 subscribers, then 1,000, 10,000, and finally, 100,000 on Christmas Day of 2016. I couldn't believe my eyes, but the surprises didn't stop there.
An Internship At Cartoon Network
As a result of my channel, I managed to land an internship at Cartoon Network's Atlanta office doing quality assurance for their mobile games (a younger me would be shocked to know “video game tester” is a real job). I worked in QA for 4 semesters, but once word of my video editing and graphic design got to the social media team, I got to start working for them on a freelance basis.
My signature style of video editing is lip syncing, something most editors don't do, so it helped me succeed and make unique videos and designs for Cartoon Network's social media channels. But my ultimate dream, though, was to work at Cartoon Network Studios, out in sunny Burbank, California, where the actual storyboarding and writing takes place.
Dream Job With Steven Universe
Over the summer of 2017, I was fortunate enough to do just that–I was a production intern on my favorite cartoon, Steven Universe, and got the chance to work with many people whose names I recognized in the credits I'd seen so many times. On top of that, due to my channel and presence within the Steven Universe fandom, I was asked to start the official Steven Universe Podcast, where I interviewed crew members and voice actors about their jobs and time on the show.
When I started my channel, I never expected it would place me in a position where I got to work with the crew regularly, and to be honest, it's still hard to believe today. It definitely wasn't easy to juggle these responsibilities while pursuing my education, but for me, the side hustle has been well worth it.
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Check out the other finalists here: 2018 Side Hustlin' Student Scholarship Results Page.