Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

The Gig Economy

Gig Economy: A labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.

As a student, you may find yourself clustering a number of jobs to earn a living and/or to explore your diverse areas of interests. For example, you might be interning part-time for a nonprofit organization, moonlighting as a musician on week nights and driving for Lyft during any other free-time you have. What is this cluster of jobs referred to exactly? The Gig Economy. Today’s gig worker may be a freelancer, independent consultant, independent contractor, or specialist.
 
Millennials are becoming the largest and fastest-growing segment of the Gig Economy workforce. More than 44 million people in the U.S. are working in the Gig Economy and this number is expected to continue to increase.
 
The Gig Economy may also be referred to as:
  • Peer Economy
  • Renting Economy
  • On-Demand Economy
  • Sharing Economy
  • Collaboration Economy

Gig Careers

Gigs are by nature unique, and people in the Gig Economy have diverse ways of combining gigs into careers. The three most common paths are clustering existing gigs and creating your own gigs. And some people do a bit of both. 

The Cluster Gig

The cluster gig isn’t your traditional 8a-5p job; instead, individuals combine several “jobs” or gigs, into one career. If you enjoy variety and spreading your concentration and focus across many different areas, the slasher gig just might be a good fit for you! People who work in the Cluster Gig community acquire their income from part-time jobs, temp work, contract gigs, moonlighting, and consulting. If you’re thinking about a cluster career, consider the following:

  • Will your gigs, or one of your gigs, provide health insurance and a retirement plan? If not, do you have a personal plan for insurance and savings?
  • Will your gig income be steady? If not, do you have a budget plan to help get you through the leaner months?
  • Will the independence and flexibility make you happy and provide career satisfaction?
  • How much do you need to make annually to be financially comfortable?

The Slasher Gig

Many people are in the Gig Economy and don’t even know it. For example, you might have a full-time marketing job from 8a-5p while spending your free time delivering for Favor and leading bat tours. In this scenario, your main income may come from your full-time job, but you supplement it with your side gigs (one of which may be your true passion). When thinking about joining the slasher community, consider the following:

  • Do you enjoy having multiple jobs and are you comfortable working in the evenings and weekends when not at your full-time job?
  • Is this a temporary situation until your salary increases to an amount that is more sustainable? If so, do you know what that amount is?
  • Do you hope to one day leave your full-time job and invest more time and energy in one of your side gigs? If so, what’s the plan to make that happen?

The Entrepreneurial Gig

Some people create their own gigs. For example, you might have a business developing websites, a number of freelance contracts with media agencies and a gig selling art on Ebay. Compared to working gigs for other companies, entrepreneurial gigs provide independence, and all the positive and negatives that come with that. Much like any entrepreneur, you should consider the following:

  • Will you be comfortable with this level of independence – as the primary (or sole) decision maker and strategist? You must be able to look to yourself for decision making, strategizing, direction, motivation, reinforcement and consolation.
  • Is there enough of a market for your expertise to support your lifestyle?
  • Do you have the resources to manage your operations, from business insurance to marketing to accounting?
  • Are you ready to be the boss and to hustle for success?
  • Will you earn enough annually to be financially comfortable and to sustain your businesses? If not, will you have a budget plan to help get you through the leaner months?
  • Will you be able to support your own health insurance and retirement plan?  
  • Will being your own gig boss make you happy and provide career satisfaction?

Gig Economy Pros & Cons

The Gig Economy is a great option for some people, and maybe not so much for others. Below are a few of the top pros and cons to consider when determining if it’s the right fit for you.

Pros

  • Keep Your Job: You don’t have to quit your traditional job – instead, you can add on side gigs to add variety to your week and to supplement your income
  • Flexibility: For many gigs, you can make your own schedule, determine how much you want or need to work
  • Work: Determine what type of work you want to do on a day-to-day basis
  • Office Environment: You have more flexibility to determine your workplace – do you want to be in an office or do you prefer being on-the-go and working from your car or bike?
  • Variety: Work on different projects with different people in different places

Cons

  • Housing: When looking to buy or rent, being in the gig economy can be difficult to prove consistent income
  • Healthcare: Healthcare and retirement plans are not typically provided to gig positions
  • Income: Your income will fluctuate depending on the number and types of gigs you have each month and year

Gig Resources

Healthcare & Retirement

One of the biggest downfalls of working in the gig economy is access to healthcare and retirement. Explore these healthcare and retirement options that may be a good fit for your needs.

  • Healthcare & Retirement: Freelancers Union & Peers.org
  • Healthcare: Stride Health, Alliance Direct Benefits & Bunker Insurance
  • Retirement: Honest Dollar & Ubiquity

Job Boards & Search Engines

  • Indeed.com – The world’s #1 job search engine. When searching in Indeed, use filters such as “temporary” and “contract”.
  • Gig.com – Find gigs and career advice!
  • Fiverr.comFind gigs that span across a number of services; clients buy your gig and the scope is set by you.
  • Upwork.com – Post a profile with your skills and abilities and let the employers come to you
  • Freelancer.com – Search for freelance work and bid on how much you will complete the project for
  • LinkedIn.com/jobs – Search for terms such as “freelance”, “temporary”, “contract”

Books & Articles


  •   Map
  • Liberal Arts Career Services

    University of Texas at Austin
    FAC 18
    2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200
    Austin, Texas 78712-1508
    512-471-7900