Dell Computers, which started when Michael Dell was a student at the University of Texas, and South Africa’s Internet Solutions, established when Ronnie Apteker was at the University of the Witwatersrand, are two of the world’s most iconic companies.
So, if you’re still at school or varsity, there is no reason not to get started with a business of your own while you complete your studies or prepare for a long school holiday.
In addition to helping you fund your tuition and living costs, starting to work or setting up a small business can help you to develop a stronger CV and some valuable life skills.
Having some experience in employment or as an entrepreneur will give you an edge in the job market when you complete school or your degree. It shows initiative and determination, two qualities valued by employers.
Here are some ways to make good use of your holiday time:
Offer holiday tutoring. A simple and potentially rewarding way to make some money is to offer your services as a tutor in a subject in which you excel. For example, if you’re a third-year accounting student, you could offer to help first- and second-year students come to grips with the coursework. Or as a 12th Grader with excellent maths results, you could tutor Grade 9s and 10s.
Look for holiday work or an internship with one of your employers of choice. Most large South African companies have holiday work and internship opportunities, particularly for the recipients of their bursaries.
Do some research into the companies in your industry or the organisations you admire, then register your interest in vacation work by emailing the head of human resources with a covering letter and your CV or by filing an online application.
Competition may be tight for the holiday work positions at blue-chip employers, so you can also try making contact with charities or small businesses. In some cases, the latter might not be able to pay you much beyond a stipend for travel and other costs, However, you can earn some experience and good references that will help you in your career once you’re done with your studies.
Put your education to work in your own business. Whether you are studying accounting, computer science or marketing, you may be able to start applying what you have learnt in a business of your own. For example, if you have basic marketing skills, you could help small companies to draw up their digital marketing plans. Or if you are completing a Bachelor of Commerce, you could help self-employed professionals with their bookkeeping.
You can start out by looking for work from your friends and family, then market your services more widely once the business starts to take off. Starting with a small entrepreneurial venture could be a great grounding for starting something bigger one day - you’ll get hands-on with everything from sales and marketing to managing the money.
Pursue one of your passions as a side-hustle. Do you have a talent or passion that is not directly related to your field of study? It may be worth looking for ways to earn cash from your personal interests and skills over the holidays - particularly if it’s something you would love to do in your time off, anyway. For example, if you have a talent for arts or crafts, you could take your designs to a neighbourhood market to sell them.
Love dogs? There are many people who need someone to look after their home and pets while they go away for the holidays. If you’re an ace at graphic design, offer to help a small business create a brand identity or website. And if you’re interested in music and have the necessary gear, you can DJ at parties, weddings and other events.
Great at taking photos? You could shadow a professional photographer and learn some valuable skills in terms of client relations, taking briefs and more.
Look for temping gigs. There are many people and companies that are eager to hire students for part-time or temporary jobs in roles that range from au-pairing, data entry and bartending to promotions, market research and telesales.
Ask around in your friends and family network or the Facebook group for your neighbourhood to find out if someone needs a hand. You can also send your CV to some of the many temping and recruitment agencies in your city to offer your services as a temp or contractor over the holidays.
Viresh Harduth is the vice-president: new customer acquisition (start-up and small business) at Sage Africa and Middle East.