In my grandfather’s time most people used to spend only a few years in school, learning the basics of arithmetic and spelling, before starting to work and learning to make a living.

Today we spend more times in schools and universities than ever before.

And while on the one hand we’re becoming more and more knowledgeable, we also lose touch with the practical everyday reality of making a living.

Many young adults just keep on filling their heads with abstract data, while the prospect of real work lies dormant in the distant future, behind a wall of internships and letters of recommendations.

In this vacuum between, all kinds of strange plants grow. There might be expectations of riches, dreams of fame, or even days of despair – hanging suspended in vocation limbo.

It’s true that when young adults today want a high-paying job in a respectable company, they’ll need more education and experience than ever before. And it’ll take many years to collect these requirements, years that are lived only in regards to the benefits that may lie in the future.

Luckily, there’s an alternative to just “sitting it out”.

Everyone today can start utilizing the Internet to make a few bucks on the side, or even turn it into a full-time job.

Gone are the days in which “making money online” was but a ludicrous scheme. Today, there are many legitimate ways to sell products and services online, and it can be an interesting learning experience for students to start applying their talents and knowledge in real world scenarios.

Converting Assets Into Currency

The main principle is that a person can use the net to convert (mental) assets into valuable experience and cold hard cash. I like to think of these assets as natural tendencies or talents within a person. Mostly it’ll be necessary to learn additional skills to cash in on these assets, but usually they are easily acquired because there are many great tutorials available free of charge.

Writing

Got a good imagination? Always been spinning stories in your head? Why not write them down and put the best one on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program and see if you can make it sell? One sale could lead to ten, might inspire you to write more, and so on and so forth. more info »

Photography / Illustration

Always running around with a camera, snapping pictures of everything, or doodling elaborate patterns in class? Why not try to sell a few of your works to a site like istockphoto or turn your cute character design into a t-shirt concept with threadless.

(Language) teaching

Do you naturally speak a second language by birth? Why not help other people learn it through live language lessons via Skype? What works for languages works for other skills as well, whether it’s guitar playing or origami folding. more info »

Video

Do you like to entertain people with jokes and acting? Why not record a few of your antics, cut out the boring bits and upload it to YouTube? Even if you won’t get many views immediately, you’ll get valuable feedback that’ll help to improve your skills, increase your viewers and eventually maybe land you in the YouTube partner program that allows you to monetize your videos. more info »

Web-design

You’re a natural with Photoshop or HTML/CSS/PHP/Javascript? Why not start offering web-design services? Yes, the competition is big, but the need for people to have websites is even bigger, so if you think your sites are awesome, others might think the same!

Handcraft

You have a hand for working with wood, textiles or other materials to create unique designs and constantly surprise friends and family with your creativity? Why not upload a few of your works on etsy and see if you can make them sell?

NOTE:

The above ways are just a few examples, there are many more. As a final note, I wouldn’t expect to get rich quick from any of these. Doing any of these things as a full-time job will require a lot of time and energy. First and foremost, these are just ways to experiment and learn about one’s talents and skills while making a few bucks on the side. But who knows, once people get hooked on your stories, illustrations, comedy skits or custom handbags, and you receive positive feedback on a consistent basis, maybe you’ll even decide to do this full-time…

img: Some rights reserved by Jeannine St. Amand