In this episode, Emily interviews Dr. Gaius Augustus, a PhD in cancer biology and habitual side hustler. Gaius combines his artistic talent and knowledge of science to communicate science visually and teaches others to do the same. Within Emily’s framework of side hustles, Gaius details the half-dozen side hustles he pursued during graduate school and how they have contributed to his personal and professional development. He has now turned one of his grad school side hustles into a full-fledged side business in his post-PhD life. In this discussion, Gaius shares his hard-win insights into time management, self-advocacy, and imposter syndrome. This episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to advance her career through side hustling, networking, or volunteering.
Links Mentioned in the Episode
- Financially Navigating Your Upcoming PhD Career Transition
- Gaius’s Website (gaiusjaugustus.com)
- The Indigo Path
- The Complete Guide to a Side Hustle for a PhD Student or Postdoc
- Smart Passive Income
00:00 Gaius: When I started doing this I just went to the office and said, look, I need extra money and this is the way that I’ve found to make extra money and I’m still going to get my work done and I expect you to hold me to that, but this is something I have to do.
00:23 Emily: Welcome to the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast, a higher education in personal finance. I’m your host, Emily Roberts. This is season three, episode 10 and today my guest is Dr. Gaius Augustus, a PhD in cancer biology, artist and side hustler. During grad school, Gaius pursued half a dozen different side hustles, which contributed to his personal and professional development as well as financial bottom line. In what is now his side business, he combines his love of science and his artistic talent and training to communicate science visually through figures, graphical abstracts, infographics and more and teaches others to do the same. In this discussion, Gaius shares his hard-won insights into time management, self advocacy, and imposter syndrome. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Dr. Gaius Augustus.
Will You Please Introduce Yourself Further?
01:15 Emily: My guest on the podcast today is Dr. Gaius Augustus, and he’s going to be talking to us about his history with side hustling and how that’s actually turned into a side business, which is very exciting. Gaius, will you please introduce yourself a little bit further? Let us know more about who you are.
01:34 Gaius: Sure. Thank you so much for having me, Emily. I actually have a kind of interesting past. I have my PhD in cancer biology, but I actually started out as an artist and in high school. I went to a fine arts high school, I loved the arts, and I actually got really into comic making and video production. When I left high school, I actually went for film and television at a fine arts university. I ended up leaving that because the culture wasn’t quite right. I went into retail and worked retail for about five years. While I was working retail, I got some experience in the pharmacy. I was like, oh, this is pretty cool, I could make a living as a pharmacist. And I was really kind of missing the science part of my life.
02:25 Gaius: And so I decided to go back to school for pharmacy and joined a lab and just fell in love with the scientific process. I got my bachelor’s in 2014 in integrative studies, which is a kind of design your own degree program where you can mix from different disciplines. I mixed biology, chemistry and a little bit of psychology. Then I went straight into a PhD program at the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at University of Arizona, which is an umbrella program, again so that I could choose a program within that. Then I joined the cancer biology program in 2015. I literally, two weeks ago, April 2019, defended my PhD, and now I am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
03:26 Emily: Yeah! Fantastic. I love to hear that non-traditional route to the PhD. It’s definitely going to inform the rest of our conversation today.
Why Did You Side Hustle During Your PhD?
Emily: Throughout your progress through the PhD and maybe even before that you have been a side hustler, habitual side hustler. Why did you start side hustling during your PhD?
03:51 Gaius: I want to say that when I was an artist, I took science classes for fun in high school and everyone thought I was crazy. Again, I was at a fine arts high school. When I went back to school for science, I thought, okay, this is it, right? I’ve always missed the science. Here it is. But then as I got into science more, I realized I really missed the art. And I never really thought there was a way to balance that. I thought, okay, well these are just two separate things that I have to do. During my PhD I started thinking, okay, is there a way to mix this? So I started with just like making comics where I anthropomorphize science topics and wrote those comics and never really to share, just to have them.
04:39 Gaius: As I started going on and people started being interested in those types of things, I started thinking this is pretty cool that people are interested, but I never really thought about making money with it. So along the same time, my partner, who is not in grad school or a scientist and is an artist who has been making money in our new city as an artist, was thinking about how we can make a little bit of extra money besides just what I make for my grad school stipend and something that was a little different than them having to go get a traditional job.
05:18 Gaius: We actually started our first big side hustle, which was starting a kind of art, crafty sort of side our business, which I’ll talk about a little bit more later. Along with that, when I started talking to people about that, people were really interested in that, and they were very interested in the fact that I had been an artist. As I got interested in science communication about two years ago, the people that I was talking to about that were also like, hey, you can also do this cool artsy stuff. How can we fit that in? I started by just doing infographics, and I wanted to learn animation for fun. So I just was like, if I can figure out animation in time for whatever your deadline is, then let’s do that.
06:06 Gaius: I was actually hired by the University of Arizona Cancer Center to create infographics and animations when I could. Animations weren’t difficult because I had some experience in the past with it. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be to get back into that. From there, people just start hearing about it. The more people heard about it, the more people were interested in it. So I was like, I guess I can make money doing this. That would be really awesome because I could do both art and science and learn about lots of cool science. That’s really what motivated me to start. Just knowing that there’s a possibility to make money was like the original thought, but then learning that I could do something I really loved and make money doing, it was a really big reason for me to push a little bit harder.
06:59 Emily: I really love that story. I’m so happy we’re going to go even more in depth with it in a moment. Because it seems so organic. You weren’t simply out to make extra money, although that’s a very welcome side benefit and maybe an important benefit. But it was just, what do you want to spend your time doing? Where are your interests leading you? Also you’re kind of responding to the market, right? Like you were, I’m putting some things out there, oh, and people are responding and it leads me over in this direction and then it leads me over here. I’m excited to hear even more about that.
07:38 Gaius: Something I find really interesting is I remember in my undergrad talking to one of my advisors. He always talked about how intentional his path was. I was always really jealous of how intentional everything he had done and all the types of things he had tried in order to reach where he was at that point. I still think about it all the time, that he was always saying making intentional choices to get to where you are. My life has been the complete opposite. It’s just been chaos. It’s more been like, what opportunities are available? Let’s take it, let’s move on to the next one. But still, if you allow yourself to not think of those things that you’ve done as mistakes and instead think of them as intentional choices that you made that have led you to this path, I think it’s really a good way to get yourself into new opportunities and use everything that you’ve done in your path to inform what you do with your life right now.
08:41 Emily: Yeah, you’re using the word intentional, which is like, everyone can get behind that. Like of course you want to make choices that are well considered, but I think what your professor was saying was more like a linear path, right? Like, like straightforward and efficient.
09:01 Gaius: And forward-thinking. I think he was thinking, okay, 20 years in the future, this is where I want to be, I think that was more what he thought he was saying. Whereas I think like you were about to say, you just want to make choices that you are intentional about in that moment. You mean to make the choice that you make with whatever hardships you have right now or whenever you’re dealing with right now, you make what choices you can and go forward with those.
09:29 Emily: Yeah, absolutely. Not that your professor’s path was a bad one if he’s happy with the outcome of course. But there are plenty of people who set out on a path and keep at it for decades and aren’t happy with the outcome even though they were very intentional and they were very efficient. That definitely depends more on your personality. It’s about knowing yourself really. I’m so happy to hear about your journey as a counterpoint to that.
Side Hustling Framework for PhDs
Emily: You already mentioned a couple different side hustles that you’ve had going on and also were starting to say how that’s led your current business. I have this framework that I like to use when I talk about side hustling, which is that side hustles, let’s say for a grad student, can fall into one of four categories or maybe even multiple of four categories.
10:19 Emily: The first is what I call “career-advancing.” So a side hustle, and again, these all make money in some capacity or another, but it’s letting you explore a new career area or maybe it’s expanding your network or maybe it’s demonstrating skills or learning new skills. Something that we think is going to advance your career. That doesn’t have to be your scientific career. It could just be whatever else you want to do. So there’s that. The second one is an enjoyable hobby that you happen to be able to monetize. It’s something you enjoy doing, not even necessarily a hobby, but just an activity that you enjoy that you happen to be able to monetize. The third category is that you don’t enjoy this activity at all, but it does pay you.
11:04 Emily: So I’m thinking this is like, well, you mentioned working retail earlier. I don’t know if that’s your passion. It doesn’t sound like it ended up being the route you went, but that’s also something a lot of grad students do just for extra income and I doubt it’s very career-advancing or enjoyable. The last one is passive income, which may be a little bit unfamiliar to people who are not in the entrepreneurial space. Basically in those first three paradigms, I’m assuming that you’re trading your time for money more or less directly. With passive income, it’s more about investing a lot of time, money, energy, or creativity to create a product that then sells over time. The very classic example is of an author. You write a book, and then the book sells. Over time you get those royalties. This is complicated a little bit with advances and we won’t go into that, but that’s kind of the idea. You put a lot of time and energy into something and then you sell it over time. So thinking about that framework, which we’ll link from the show notes: Put the side hustles that you’ve had into those different buckets, if you would.
12:11 Gaius: Yeah, sounds good. I thought about this from, should I talk about each one individually or should I talk about the framework? I think that the framework is so well designed or so well thought out that I’m just going to talk about it from the framework side.
Gaius: When I think about career-advancing, I’m thinking about networking. Like you said, it doesn’t have to be scientific, but it can be about growing your network and people who can help you find jobs in the future. So, like I said, I worked for the University of Arizona Cancer Center. I made infographics and animations and did some writing for them as well. That was definitely career advancing. I met so many people through that. I actually did six months of work for them volunteer, so I wasn’t getting paid at all. And then I did six months where I was getting paid, but that was a great career-advancer as far as meeting everyone at the university and people who potentially I could work for in the future.
13:20 Emily: I actually have a follow up question on that one because that sounded fantastic from the first time you brought it up. I was so excited about it. How did you get into that position? It sounds like it started with volunteering, but how did you initiate that volunteer relationship?
13:36 Gaius: One of the hardest things I think all of us have to do as graduate students is promote ourselves. Right? You have to promote yourself when you learn to write grants, you have to promote yourself when you tell your PI about your cool new experiment that you want to try that costs a lot more money than your PI maybe thinks it’s worth. I actually was helping with website design. I used to do freelance web design on the side of working retail. Like you said, I’m a longtime side hustler. So I was helping my department with redesigning their website and in order to get a better idea of what they needed, they pulled in the PR person from the Cancer Center. We just were having conversations because I show up to meetings on time and he shows up to meetings on time and academics don’t.
14:28 Gaius: We were just having conversations before all of our meetings, and I mentioned that I was looking into science communication. Finally one day he was just like, you should come work with us. I’m not sure I have a budget, but I really like what you’re saying. So it was totally me just talking about things I liked and being willing to talk about myself and what I do and what I think I do well and someone being willing to say, okay, well I want to take a chance on you and give you more experience and get a volunteer to help me out to get that opportunity.
15:09 Emily: It’s very clear from that story that this was about networking. You volunteered your skills at the small circle of your initial network, which was your department, and that led you to a slightly wider network and more opportunities there. That sounds amazing. This is a bit more of a financial or technical question, but I’m just curious about how being hired by the cancer center, the PR wing, played with your stipend. Was that in addition to it? Was that all kosher at the university level? Were you hired as an independent contractor? What were all the details there?
15:46 Gaius: At the time I was on an NIH training grant. There were a lot of discussions between the department and the Cancer Center about how that was going to work. Apparently they looked into the fellowship and made sure that there was no language saying I couldn’t get paid. Then what they did was they just said, okay, well we can only pay you up to a certain number of hours because you’re a student worker. What this person did was just found the best offer he could as far as an hourly pay where I could kind of maximize my income under the guidelines that were currently there. He was a really big advocate for me and I really appreciate that. But there was definitely some arguments and conversations that had to happen between the university and the cancer center and my department.
16:44 Emily: Clearly. In addition to just the pay issue, which it sounds like that’s a very specific solution for the training grant you were on and so forth. How did your advisor feel about you…? Because a lot of people keep their side hustles quiet, right? They don’t let their advisor or other people know about it. But clearly your advisor must have known about this from the beginning or early on. How did that go over?
17:08 Gaius: This is going to go back to kind of self advocacy again. I worked in retail for five years, and in retail there is no self-advocacy. You do what you’re told, and if you don’t, anyone could have your job or at least that’s what they tell you even when it’s not true. I’d had some really, really horrible bosses and really horrible experiences in retail. When I started back in school, one of my goals was never to be treated like that again. When I got into grad school and started thinking about doing on the side… Sadly it was never a question of is my PI going to be okay with this. When I chose a PI, I was very straightforward and saying I’m kind of going to do what I want to do and I need your support and how do you feel about that?
18:05 Gaius: And he was like, you know, I want to do what’s best for you and your career, and I will work with you. Wo when I started doing this, I just went to the office and said, look, I need extra money and this is the way that I’ve found to make extra money and I’m still going to get my work done. I expect you to hold me to that, but this is something I have to do. He was very worried about me and very worried about whether I was going to be able to keep doing it, but he supported me and never questioned it. He just made a couple of like side glances, but then it was just like, do what you got to do.
18:46 Emily: Yeah. You finished in five years it sounds like. So this didn’t end up tacking on any extra time at minimum. This is a great tip for anyone who has not yet chosen an advisor: to find someone who is going to be supportive of your career broadly defined – however you want to define your career. That person should be supportive, or if they’re not, know that early on and don’t work with them unless you’re 100% on the tenure track. I’m really glad that you described like your relationship with that person and how that worked out. That was so much detail, but that was such an exciting side hustle.
Emily: What’s the next one on your list?
19:24 Gaius: One thing that I’ve been doing a lot over just the past like six months is a lot of freelance sci art. I’ve been doing infographics, graphical abstracts, animations for scientists, for departments. That’s been extremely fun, but it’s also been a great networking experience. A lot of the time, I work with someone and then someone who they know is like, oh, this person told me that you are great to work with, I would like to work with you too. As far as career-advancing steps, the sci art, freelance, and I’ve done a little bit of writing as well has really helped with getting that networking done and also giving me the confidence that I needed to say people do enjoy my work. Also, they’re not just hiring me because they like me because strangers are hiring me. Those have been my big career-advancing hustles.
20:21 Emily: Yeah, that sounds like so much fun as you just said. If people want to see your work, where’s the best place to go?
20:28 Gaius: All of my work is available on my website, which is gaiusjaugustus.com, which I hope you’ll put in the notes since it’s not always the easiest to spell. If you also search Gaius Divi Filius on Twitter, you can see me and get to my website. I’m on Instagram as Process of InQUEERy with inquiry spelled with “queer” in the middle. I am on Facebook with Process of Inqueery as well.
20:55 Emily: I wanted to put that in the middle of the episode instead of just at the end so that people can go and look at your stuff as they’re continuing to listen to this conversation. I would imagine that just by the nature of what you did with that particular side hustle of it being art, it sounds like it’s incredibly shareable. You chose something where networking is easy. If you do a great job, people are going to ask who’s behind that work.
21:17 Gaius: It’s interesting you say that because I’ve never thought about that before. I’m a very visual person. I struggled to learn science because it was reading the books and reading articles and I do so much better when I started reframing it as look at the results and then try and frame your scientific ideas around the results and then read the articles and see if they agree with you. Same with learning science, go and look at the pictures in the chapter, try and figure out what they mean and then read the text and make sure I’m getting on the right track. I’ve just always been that kind of visual person. I’m drawing, in class, ideas out since I was little. So it’s interesting. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that people just see it and it automatically gives a good networking side of things.
22:09 Emily: Yeah. You’re much more in touch with the sci comm community than I am. But when I think of science communication, I initially think about the written word. I don’t go to to video or to art or anything, but maybe it’s a bigger component of it that I realize. Anyway, I just think it’s a really wonderful way of communicating that may be undertapped at this point.
22:35 Gaius: I agree completely. I think you hit the nail on the head about how most people feel about sci comm.
22:43 Emily: This summer. I’m putting forth extra support for PhDs undergoing career transitions into grad school, a post doc or a real job. If you’re moving onto the next stage in your career or thinking about it, please visit pfforphds.com/next to check out my articles, webinars and coaching program. Allow me to come alongside you during this transition to ensure that you set yourself up for financial success.
Enjoyable Activity or Hobby
23:13 Emily: What’s the next side hustle? Any monetized hobbies?
23:18 Gaius: On the enjoyable category, one of the big ones is the side hustle that I started initially with my partner. We’re pagan and we love making stuff. As we were making things for us, we just decided to bring that to a broader audience. We actually make resin jewelry. We make pagan goods, things that maybe you would find in your house or things you might want to wear out to just kind of show off pagan pride as well as just things that everyone uses but instead of looking at it from just a regular angle, we say how would we look at this from a pagan angle? Recently my partner made plushes and instead of an animal or something, they made crystal balls.
24:12 Gaius: So stuff like that. We make a lot of the resin jewelry, but we’re also kind of pushing that a little bit further now into other things like plushes and shirts and things like that. That’s all through theindigopath.com, which if you go to is not anything yet. We took down our shop to do a bunch of conventions and things like that and we’re rebuilding it to put up our new branding and things like that. But that’s been something that’s just been pure enjoyment. It’s paying for itself, but that’s about it at this point.
24:47 Emily: Yeah. I love that you found something that you could do with your partner. Just something fun that’s a bonding experience or a fun project to work on together. I’m sure that it has relational benefits as well as the potential monetary benefits and just something enjoyable to do with your time. Although it does not sound like you are hard pressed for things to do with your time! Plenty going on already. What’s next in your list?
It Pays But It’s Not Enjoyable
25:10 Gaius: The next is the “it pays, but I don’t necessarily enjoy it.” The big one for me is web design. I do love web design, but I don’t necessarily like doing web design for other people. I love playing around with it for myself. I’ve been doing it for years and like I said I used to do it freelance. It pays the bills. When people want or need help with their website, I can get people up and running quickly. I can do trainings so that people can understand it. I was also a cheap sell for my department to be able to redo their website for very, very low pay. That’s probably my best example of something that pays, but it’s not necessarily the thing that I want to be doing with the rest of my life.
25:59 Emily: Yeah. Well it sounds like you should increase your rates on that. Do less of it, but get more out of what you do.
26:06 Gaius: Yes. You’re probably right.
26:07 Emily: Anything else in that category or should we move on to the passive one?
26:14 Gaius: Oh, let’s move on to the passive, which I’m really excited about, but also very skeptical about because I know that there is a lot of talk in my blogs about whether you should do passive income or whether you should wait until you have a following to do passive income. I’ll just tell you what I do. One thing that I do is I write blog articles for my website. I actually started doing that because I was part of the Grad Blogger Connect Group on Facebook led by Chris Coney, and I just decided to start this blog. It was the first thing I ever did to do any science communication, before I worked for the cancer center or anything. I just put ads in there, and I think I have like a $1.20 in my ads account. So it’s never really made me anything but it’s there. But because I’ve written the blog articles, those will continue to be there and when my site blows up in the near future and people are reading those articles a lot, those ads hopefully will make some income at some point.
27:21 Emily: Is this the same website that you mentioned earlier?
27:23 Gaius: Yes, it is the same website.
27:25 Emily: Okay, great. Glad to hear it’s all integrated together.
27:29 Gaius: Yeah, that was something I really wanted, but it’s very difficult to do the more side hustles you try. You have to figure out how to get all that branding to work together. The other thing actually, which is also on the same website, is I have a shop of just designs on T-shirts and pillows and things like that. I knew I wanted to do that because I love making up T-shirt designs. As part of The Indigo Path, we constantly are buying iron-on stuff to make designs. The shop doesn’t use my iron-ons, they are actually professionally printed. But I do like the idea of having a totally customized wardrobe. The shop has a lot of cool science-y themed designs. This is passive. I make the designs, I put them up in the shop. If somebody likes it, they buy it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a week from now or a year from now, I’ll still get hopefully about the same cut on that. I put in that up-front work. Whatever money I make down the road comes from the initial work that I put into making those designs.
28:44 Emily: Yeah. I don’t know if I told you this, but that shop was the reason that I invited you on the podcast. I saw that as a potentially passive income stream and I was like, alright, I need to talk to this guy.
29:01 Gaius: The shop feels to me like the dark secret of my website, because even though it’s up front, I don’t really advertise it that much. Bbut I just love making designs and putting them on stuff. Especially all over prints, which I don’t actually have that many of on the site, but I am obsessed with all over prints. So I make them, I put them up there and I don’t promote it but I think that it’s really cool and it’s probably one of the favorite things that I do.
29:34 Emily: Yeah. Like you said earlier, there’s talk about when to introduce potentially passive streams of income and so forth to your business, but it just sounds like the perfect medley of some of the other things we’ve talked about. It uses your unique skills and your unique subject area interests. It’s just something that you enjoy doing and you threw up the end result online. If people want to come and find it, cool. I think what’s interesting about passive income though, especially when we’re talking about web-based businesses, is that it’s not really ever truly passive. If no one came to your site, if you weren’t driving traffic to your site from other means, then no one would ever find it and no one would ever buy it. It’s really not truly passive because you have to still be active online and somehow trying to get traffic to your site, such as by doing podcast interviews! But anyway, your time is decoupled from what money you make from it. So that’s what makes it passive.
30:33 Gaius: Definitely. And I will say that if you put your work up on other websites, it can be more passive. Etsy is that if you get your hashtags right, so there’s some up front work as usual, but if you get your hashtags right, you really figure out the game on Etsy, you can do pretty passive income. As soon as you move into a realm where like you said, you have to drive traffic, then it becomes less passive. But it’s still way more passive than a lot of the work that I do. If you’re already creating things, in some ways there’s no drawback. If I’m already creating these designs to put on T-shirts for myself, at some point there’s no drawback to just putting it up for other people to have as well.
31:24 Gaius: That’s in my mind the great time to do passive income if you don’t have a lot of following, is to do things like you said, that you already enjoy and you’re already doing. I caution people when they’re like, I’m going to build this entire course and do all these things into it. It’s been a year developing it and I don’t even know whether people are going to sign up for it. No one knows who I am. That’s when it’s like, well if you really love designing courses and you’re really passionate about this, then that’s great. But as far as passive income is concerned, that year of work may take a lot longer to come back to you.
32:04 Emily: Yeah. If anyone in the audience is interested in passive income and you haven’t yet heard of Pat Flynn, please go check him out right now. His brand is Smart Passive Income. This story just reminded me of his origin story. He was an architect and studying for some kind of licensing exam. As he was studying, he created a study guide, and when he was done and he passed the exam, he put the study guide up online for sale. It sold like gangbusters, apparently surprising everyone, including him. That was the start of his passive income empire. As you were just saying, if you can put in 5 or 10% more work and make something that you’ve already created for yourself something that other people could use, why not go ahead and just see what happens. You haven’t invested any time that you wouldn’t have otherwise. There’s really no downside there.
Benefits and Detriments of Side Hustling During Grad School
Emily: I want to speed through the next set of questions, which is, what are the general benefits that you’ve experienced by side hustling during graduate school and the downsides or the detriments? Anything that we haven’t already covered?
33:10 Gaius: I think the biggest upside is just having that creative outlet. I also think for other people the greatest benefit is being able to try things out before you decide to switch careers, if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m thinking of leaving academia, and as soon as I started thinking about leaving academia, I was like, oh my God, if I don’t do academia, what do I do? Do I have to go back to retail? That was a big enough push to try out other things and see what happens and to see if building this kind of business model is possible. The downsides really are the commitment that you have less free time. I feel like I’m always working and have to schedule off time to say, okay, I’m really going to go do other things. It can slowly take over. It can become really fun and a good excuse to not do schoolwork. I know people already have problems with procrastination. So you do have to be very intentional about how you do it, and it does have the possibility of growing out of control. You really have to think hard about what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and how much.
34:25 Emily: Yeah, that’s a great point. It’s actually something that I experienced during graduate school. I wouldn’t call the blog that I had at that time necessarily a side hustle, but it was certainly a time intensive hobby that brought in money a little bit. I was not very thoughtful at the time about why I was spending so much time on my blog instead of doing my work. It turns out finance is much more of a passion for me than my specific research area, no surprise now, but it was at the time. As you just said, be really thoughtful and be balanced, because financially having a side hustle can help you a lot with your cash flow during grad school. What’s not going to help you is delaying your graduation and delaying getting a full time job or launching a full time business or whatever the next thing is for you.
35:19 Gaius: I actually purposefully delayed writing my dissertation until the latest I could. I could’ve graduated probably nine months earlier, but I just kept pushing it because I knew that I would have that income and I was like, well at least I know I have income and so I’ll just keep pushing it until I can’t push it anymore. That was not smart.
35:43 Emily: I see what you’re saying because you were, as you just mentioned, thinking, do I have to go back to retail if I don’t have another job lined up? So certainly that’s a reasonable thing to be afraid of. I don’t want to graduate before I have something lined up. That’s a total thing that people might delay for that reason. But as you were exploring those other options, you are actively working on it, you weren’t just work like, oh no, I’m afraid to graduate and I’m not making any progress in actually getting to a point where I want to graduate, therefore I’m going to delay. It’s an understandable path.
Emily: Now, as I understand, you’ve just defended and you’re looking for a full time job, but you’re also now developing a side business, which is weaving together some of the different things that we’ve talked about so far. Can you talk about a little bit of the mindset shift from going from I’m a PhD student first and a side hustler second to now I’m starting a business.
36:44 Gaius: For me it was less of a change as far as I’m a PhD student to I’m a business owner and more of a shift in thinking about how other people saw me. So seeing people be like, oh Gaius draws cool stuff. This is really neat. Can you draw something for me? Going from that to wow, your work is really amazing. I would love to pay you to do it. That was a really huge jump for me. Like I said, I started out in art school, I took my first art classes like in eighth grade to start on my art career. I was always going through this thinking I’m never going to be good enough, and this is the first time that I ever thought, I am good enough to make art my living. I think having that kind of self confidence was really the big shift for me. The business side, because I’d been doing these other side hustles like The Indigo Path, it wasn’t really that hard for me, but just understanding that people appreciated me and that I was worth it and I was talented enough. That was a huge hurdle for me.
38:05 Emily: Yeah. Sounds like imposter syndrome, something we are so familiar with.
38:09 Gaius: I don’t know what you’re talking about!
38:11 Emily: It can definitely crop up in other areas besides your PhD work. That goes back to the self-advocacy theme from earlier. It’s just a different application of it. I’m really glad to hear that you’re progressing on that front and defeating your gremlins.
Last Advice for a Grad Student Side Hustler
Emily: In the last minute or so we have here, do you have any advice for another graduate student pursuing side hustling, interested in pursuing side hustling, that we haven’t already covered? We have covered so much. But did you have anything else you want to throw in there?
38:44 Gaius: No. The main thing I want to stress over and over again is that you have to balance your time. I highly suggest anyone who’s in grad school to have some kind of side passion. It doesn’t have to make you money, though it’s great if it does. Really think about how much time you’re spending, why are you doing it, why are you continuing in your PhD or grad program or whatever, and make sure that all of those things are happening in the right amount of time and the right doses as well as for the right reasons. Because the ultimate goal is for you to find a balance that makes you happy, not for any other reason. As long as you’re happy and reducing your stress overall and not just delaying your stress, I think you’re in the right place, but that balance is really important.
39:39 Emily: Oh yeah. Thank you so much for emphasizing that. Thank you so much for being my guest today.
39:44 Gaius: Thank you for having me.
39:46 Emily: Listeners, I’m so glad you joined us for today’s episode pfforphds.com/podcast is the hub for the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast. There you can find links to all the episode show notes, a form to volunteer to be interviewed, a survey, and a way to join the mailing list. I’d love for you to check it out and get more involved. See you in the next episode! The music is stages of awakening by Paddington bear from the free music archive and is shared under CC by NC. Podcast editing and show notes creation by Jewel Lipps.