The grad student featured in today’s side job series is a true hustler! Kathayoon balanced her graduate work with THREE side jobs that furthered her career, lined her pockets, and gave her a much-needed break. She even used her consulting network to get her first post-PhD job. It’s truly amazing how much she was able to do in addition to her PhD.
Name: Kathayoon Khalil
Graduate Institution: Stanford University
Department/Program: Graduate School of Education
1. What was your side or temporary job?
I taught classes for the Miami University of Ohio’s online program Project Dragonfly, taught piano lessons to local kids, and did evaluation consulting for zoos and aquariums.
2. How much did you earn?
Miami offers a stipend of $750 per class, so I would do two classes per term. I charged $30/hour for piano lessons and $70/hr for consulting.
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3. How did you balance your job with your graduate work?
I tried to keep a strict 8-5:30 schedule in grad school so I would stay efficient – plus I don’t work well at night. The course instructing and consulting was in the same line of work (zoo and aquarium education) as my graduate work, and I love hanging out with kids and playing music so teaching piano lessons was like a breath of fresh air for an hour every day!
4. Does/did your job complement your graduate work or advance your career?
I got to build a lot of important skills by consulting, and teaching online courses allowed me to travel and both allowed me to make connections to people in my field who acted as study subjects for my dissertation, and eventually helped me get a job after graduation.
5. How did you get started with your job?
With Miami, I had a friend at the Cincinnati Zoo (where the program is based) who introduced me to the staff.
With consulting, a mentor of mine connected me with a colleague in the Bay Area who needed help evaluating an exhibit. Once it got out that I was providing that service, several other people in our field – both in California and elsewhere in the country – offered me projects at their institutions.
With piano lessons, I signed up on care.com to be a babysitter and at my first interview, I mentioned being a pianist and the parents asked me to teach their children. Friends of the family heard that I taught lessons, and asked me to take on their children as students.
6. Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
Honestly, it kept me sane to have other things going on, even though sometimes I was so busy I had no time to eat until dinner. But I wouldn’t do anything differently! I needed the money, but I also needed the distraction to some extent. Having these other things going on helped me to finish my dissertation more quickly because I was more focused on the time I had, instead of having lots of unstructured time to work.
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