While some people see earning money and accumulating wealth as a game where the points come in the form of dollar signs, many see it as a means to a desire. For me, that desire was born the day my father showed me pictures of his classic, bright red 1985 AMC Jeep CJ7, shiny and sitting on big fat tires with a souped up corvette engine to turn them, that he had purchased and built up when he was in high school and college.
I heard the stories of the fun it brought him. As you can imagine, the wild tales and memories he had made piqued my imagination and yearning to have my own Jeep CJ7, but as time has passed they have become more collectible and expensive.
Knowing this, I began saving money, but what good is saving money if you are not earning any? I quickly learned this lesson and set about solving this dilemma. As a young middle schooler, I took every opportunity I had to work.
Since I was too young to hold a job, I discovered small odd jobs that would be considered a side hustle. I would spend time with pen and paper, coming up with what were “business models” in my young mind. I would figure out how much the work would cost me, then how much I would want to make for myself, to determine how much to charge. I then wrote down how easy it would be to expand the idea to include my friends as employees and how long I could feasibly be able to maintain an operation.
During the summer, I would do lawn maintenance and gardening for neighbors. I would go around where I lived asking people if they had chores to do. In the fall we would rake leaves. In the winter, I would coordinate snow shoveling jobs and work with my friends to earn cash. In the spring we would do cleanups of yards. It was then that I realized the key to a business and side hustle is to make something more efficient or easier and to look for opportunities in the tasks that other people will not do.
Learning To Use AutoCAD Software
As I entered high school, I took this lesson I had learned and sought out ways to apply it in a more advanced manner than raking leaves and shoveling snow. I began by working with an engineer who had started in the age of pen and paper and did not have the time or patience to learn the new AutoCAD program. Seeing as I wanted to study engineering in college, and understanding that computer-aided drafting was the new standard in that career, I spent hours at a computer learning the program inside and out. I learned every little keyboard command, shortcut, and tool I could find.
Not long after, I began drafting for him, taking his ideas, sketches, and calculations, and then drawing them in my AutoCAD software to create engineering packets for him to stamp and make official. I continue to do it to this day. It was here I learned a second lesson: learn skills and enter markets which will become the future and always take the chance to add to your knowledge as it opens doors to other money-making ideas.
Random Side Hustle
Not only did I stick to CAD, but I ventured out and discovered other ways to produce an income. I began working for the family pool maintenance and renovation contractor business and quickly learned the value in hard work and sweat. I hauled bags of gravel, stone, tools, and more. However, I did have an insight into how to wire electrical components, construct plumbing, and more.
Outside of this, other opportunities arose. For example, I borrowed my father’s truck and went around seeing who had items to haul to the dump. A close friend and I would go pick up the old furniture, electronics, etc. and haul it back to my house where we would strip all of the metal out we could. After dropping the trash at the dump and charging the client the dump fee and our time, we would make a little extra money by taking the metal to the scrapyard.
One time, we made forty extra dollars!
Remembering the scrapyard income, as the end of the school year approached, I watched as teachers cleaned out their classrooms and threw away rolls of wire, old car batteries, etc. I promptly took these to the dump or the auto parts store to earn a few extra dollars. It was through this I learned another lesson: even if something is extra work or is difficult, there is always an opportunity to earn more money hiding; you just have to be creative enough to find it.
I also had to manage my time working with my education. It is important to place a priority in an education as it opens doors to new places in life. I balanced work and school by using an agenda and time management. This balancing act made me more efficient in both the realm of education and work as I had less time to complete the same amount of tasks.
All of this hard-work, moral support from my parents, and more ultimately led to my purchase of a white 1983 Jeep CJ-7 my junior year of high school which I am currently working on to improve and incorporate new technological advancements. Looking back, I value the important lessons I learned, lessons that will be invaluable as I move into college, manage loans and finances, and eventually enter a career in engineering.
In college at the University of Maryland at College Park, the college which I plan on attending, I intend to study in an engineering field such as civil engineering with the potential to dual major in that and mechanical engineering, two valuable majors as we enter a new era of technological advancements and demands in our society. After college, I intend to work for a known business while I learn the ropes of the industry and plan my breakaway to start my own business eventually.
The Jeep represents a small goal I set in my life and accomplished through small jobs, labor, and smart budgeting. As I move on to bigger things in my life, I am setting bigger goals that will employ many of the same principles learned from my times of side hustling and working. One such goal is to live on the coast of North Carolina where I will eventually have a family and hopefully give my future children the chance to learn the same lessons I did. However smaller goals will always remain, such as keeping that old Jeep running!
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Check out the other finalists here: 2020 Side Hustlin’ Student Scholarship Results Page.