By Cindy Krischer Goodman
At 4 p.m. on Thursdays, Jodi Laurence dashes from her law office to take command of a classroom. For most of the 7.3 million Americans who work a second job, the motivation is simple: extra money in their pocket. But as the school year kicks in, a growing number of professionals like Laurence juggle side gigs as teachers to gain less obvious rewards.
Some people take on the two-job life to get back on a college campus or because they enjoy the work. Others discover multiple advantages in sacrificing their free time to fit teaching into their work/life balance.
A side hustle as a teacher actually helps some professionals excel further at their full-time jobs. Laurence, a veteran health care attorney with her own firm, has begun her first semester teaching health law the University of Miami School of Law.
An empty-nester, Laurence thought teaching one night a week would be fun, not expecting the additional payoff she has experienced. “It was something I always wanted to do and I love it,” she said. Now, as she prepares weekly lessons, she researches the newest health law cases and prepares to answer students’ questions. “I have to be expert every week on an area within health law to teach it,” she said. “It’s keeping me on my toes and at the top of my game. I am learning as well.”
Others find that by teaching something they are passionate about, they are happier in all aspects of life. Jorge Rey, director of information security and compliance at accounting firm Kaufman Rossin, becomes energized when he steps into a classroom. He explained this benefit to his wife when he sought her support this summer for teaching a graduate class on Saturdays in privacy, data and security, at Florida International University’s Chapman Graduate School of Business. Rey said balancing work, his two children and a job as an adjunct required late nights preparing lessons and giving up weekend family time. However, on Saturday when he returned home midday, he was in an upbeat, happy mood: “I enjoy spending a couple hours a week sharing my knowledge.”
For a professional who wants a new challenge, being on a college campus with young people asking smart questions helps improve skills, expand networks and could even improve marketability. Frank Garcia works full time as a physician assistant specializing in orthopedic surgery. He also teaches two mornings a week at his alma mater, Miami Dade College.
Garcia said teaching has built his presentation skills and stretched his ability to think on his feet: “The students ask questions, so I need to be prepared. While I’m talking, they will research something on their iPhone and question me.” Garcia said some of his students go on to do rotations in his office and learn hands-on. Professionally, he said teaching has helped him establish a reputation for his expertise in orthopedic surgery and as an alumnus who gives back.
Knowing you teach a course, people at work are more likely to turn to you for advice on your expertise on a particular subject. Nick Castaldo, former president of Pollo Tropical restaurant chain, has extensive business experience and now is senior vice president/chief marketing officer and equity partner of Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza. He also teaches marketing courses at Nova Southeastern’s Huizenga College of Business two nights a week and said students appreciate his real-life application of whatever topic he is teaching. Because he mixes regularly with millennials, he brings that expertise back to his job. Not only has he learned interactive techniques that engage millennials in the classroom, “they keep me in touch with what young people are curious about,” he said. In the consumer products sector, being viewed for having that added insight is a plus: “Marketing is always evolving, and you have to be current and move with it. Being around young people is great way to do that.”
Some people squeeze teaching into their schedules primarily for the extra income. Angela Thomas is a full-time theater instructor at a high school, and once a week, she also teaches acting classes to adults at Broward College. As a mother of an 11-year-old, the juggle isn’t easy. Thomas said the extra money helps support the lifestyle her family wants. But she also finds teaching at a college level has added rewards: “I am teaching a higher level of acting technique to a more interested student.”
Balancing work and home life with a side job as a teacher can be tricky. Class time is just one component of teaching.
Teachers must prepare a syllabus, lesson plans and a grading system. According to the American Association of University Professors, the typical equation for calculating preparation and grading time for a three-credit course is three hours for every one hour of class time. It’s safe to assume that adjuncts put in a good 135 hours during a semester.
For the self-employed or employees in senior positions, the flexibility in their work schedule helps. Laurence, for example, leaves work at 4 p.m. once a week to get to her teaching job and occasionally researches class materials during the workday.
Employees without that flexibility often need buy-in from their bosses to make their schedules work. Garcia said he gives his teaching schedule to his boss at the beginning of the semester, and the two plan surgeries around it: “You need to have a good relationship with your boss so he understands your goals.”
In the past few years, landing a side hustle at a local college or university has become easier with schools paring back on full-time faculty. Adjunct faculty now make up a majority of the higher education instructors nationwide, in a reversal from a few decades ago, according to the American Association of University Professors. The issue has been contentious, especially for the many who have been forced to take part-time positions because full-time jobs are scarce; many are organizing to fight for better pay, benefits, schedules and job security.
Teaching on the college level typically requires a master’s degree and nationally pays an average of $3,500 per course, said John Barnshaw, senior higher education researcher for the American Association of University Professors.
Teaching on the side is a commitment and can keep you from scheduling travel, replying to after-hours emails, or prepping for your main job. To make it work, many take on teaching for a semester at a time. While, Barnshaw’s organization wants universities to hire full-time faculty and give them benefits, he admits there are big advantages for students and part-time adjuncts with real-life experience: “When you have tremendous expertise to share, it’s a really good thing.”
ABOUT THE WRITER
Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life.