In the age of the Internet, the odd job has taken up a whole new meaning. While many students today are still employed doing labour-based “grunt” work, a select few students are using the Internet as a means of making money. These digital side-jobs are odd not for their obscurity, but for an entirely different reason: there are no required hours, there is no boss and the Internet is the medium that makes it all happen. For students on the lookout for a new way of creating capital, look no further than what these three students are doing now.

Ryan Li (20), Cryptocurrency Trader


Ryan Li is low key about his line of work. If it weren’t for the stock charts that periodically fill the screen of his laptop during lectures, no one would have clue that he is a trader of cryptocurrencies. But before the yo-yoing price of Bitcoin became a daily conversation starter for everyday people, Li was trading a different kind of currency: designer shoes.

“I needed to make money one way or another, but I didn’t want to work a regular job,” said Li, who studies Communications and Media. “I once worked at a restaurant and that really sucked. I couldn’t deal with the fact that I’m working my ass off for a few euros an hour, so I started buying and re-selling brand name shoes online. At first it didn’t work out, but after doing some research and finding a group of shoe-sellers who gave me some tips on how to sell at a profit, I quickly made back the money I’d lost within a month. After that, the profit kept growing and growing till I had quite something to work with.”

After learning about Bitcoin from his roommate at the start of 2017, Li decided to try his luck in the cryptocurrency market. The result of this decision parallels that of his time in the shoe-selling business, albeit at much higher profit margins.

“At first I was day-trading different coins like a madman, and that didn’t work out,” admitted Li. “I lost quite a bit of money, so I took the time to study how other people trade and how to sell at max-profit. Surprisingly, Twitter became my most important source of information. I learned the basics of market cycles—buying when coins are low and selling when they’re high. Between July and December the market was down, but I knew that the market had to go up again, so I started preparing myself by buying into different cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin. And well, it worked out.”

Curious to know how well that worked out? “At its highest, the profit value was 350k in US dollar value,” said Li, grinning ever so slightly. “But with the recent crash of the market, it’s down to 100k.” With such high stakes comes high stress, but Li has learned how to keep his cool over the last few months. “I couldn’t sleep when I first started trading because the market would shift so fast,” said Li. “Now I think to myself: ‘If I lose it all, I’ll still be fine at the end of the day.’ That helps me sleep at night and lets me enjoy life.”

Nychenda Fecunda (20), Artist


Nychenda Fecunda has a thing for drawing faces. Along her bedroom walls are copious portraits that tread the line between ravishing and disturbing, playful and eerie. Each face is delicately manipulated as if it were dipped in a pool of strange dreams only to come out unnaturally colourful and with peculiar features, such as melting ice cream for hair. For Fecunda, drawing is a form of meditation, but as of late, the art she posts on Instagram has also become a source of extra cash.

“When people started asking me online if they could buy my stuff, I’d always have this moment of stress like ‘Damn, what price tag do I attach to this?” said Fecunda, who is doing a double-degree at Erasmus University College. “A few months ago, this girl sent me a DM from Sweden asking to buy something. At first I was excited, but then the practical matters came into play like pricing it and transporting it and I gave up on the whole thing. Finally three months ago, I agreed to selling a piece to someone and when I delivered it to her, she was so happy, which made me happy. I mean, I didn’t ask for a lot of money, but it felt really nice to get something for something I loved doing.”

Fecunda’s following on Instagram, as well her as exhibitions at venues like WORM, has led to more people enquiring about her portraits. Now she doesn’t hesitate so much when pricing her work. “I decided that I would ask the same amount that I used to get tutoring per hour, so if I spend 2.5 hours on something, it will be around 25 euros,” Fecunda told EM. “But it depends on the size of the piece too. I’ve talked to friends I know who go to the art academy, and they say that’s way too little. Professionals charge 40 euros an hour, but I’m no professional so I’m starting out with this and we’ll see where it goes in a year.”

For Fecunda, who signs all her pieces with ‘NaaF’ in the bottom corner, it’s first and foremost about the art and then the money. “I feel that if I only did this because I need to pay the rent, it would take away the joy, and then what’s the point of doing it in the first place.”

Lorenzo De Benedictis (20), Football Data Collector


Lorenzo De Benedictis scored a side-job that every football-lover could only dream of: getting paid to watch live football. After punching the word ‘football’ into a few freelancing websites, De Benedictis stumbled upon an advertisement from a sports data agency that pays its employees 50 euros a match, plus transportation costs and the price of the ticket to collect data as the match is happening.

“Being in a foreign country and not speaking the language, I thought this is the best job I can get,” De Benedictis told EM. “I believe you should do what you love and I love football, so if I can’t play or coach, then this is how I’ll get my foot in the door.”

Collecting a paycheck for watching football sounds brilliant, but the job demands a whole lot more than that. Using a laptop or smartphone, De Benedictis has to record everything that’s happening in the game, from player line-ups and formations to goals scored and fouls. He even needs to record who’s in possession of the ball and where throughout the whole game.

“It’s not like watching a regular match,” said De Benedictis, who studies Communication and Media. “There’s actually a lot of pressure because it has to be done live and instantaneously. Football can get really high-pace, so you have to keep one eye on your laptop and the other on the match. The match may only be 90 minutes long, but it feels like you’re working for three hours.”

Sure, those 90 minutes may be intensive, but De Benedictis is much happier doing this than washing dishes in the kitchen of a restaurant. “When it comes to student jobs, mine is the outsider,” said De Benedictis. “It’s something very different. I don’t have a boss in front of me and I make my own schedule. And also, I get paid to watch football, which is amazing.”