Side Hustles

While I impatiently wait for my dental license, I’ve delved into audiobooks and CE on entrepreneurship. For the past four years, I’ve been entrenched in the technical aspect of dentistry. So, learning more about the business side has been refreshing! As I dabble in entrepreneurship, I have gained a greater appreciation for my classmates who ran lucrative side hustles while in dental school.

Annually, out of 12k dental school applicants, only 6k are admitted. Clearly, I was surrounded by the best and brightest. Still, I was continually awe-struck by my classmates’ abilities. It boggles my mind that some were able to juggle dental school AND a lucrative side hustle (I could barely juggle dental school and my laundry)! To offset tuition, I had classmates that drove for Uber, worked as a locum hygienist, waitressed, etc. (Honestly, there are too many examples to even list…they’re amazing)!

To learn more about how to balance dental school and a side hustle, I interviewed two classmates, Christian and Jamaad. On top of dental school, Christian ran a successful photography business, and Jamaad owns a thriving tutoring firm. Keep reading to learn how to turn your hobby into a lucrative side hustle…while in dental school!

PS. Below my interview, I have included the ULTIMATE reading list on leadership/entrepreneurship. Even if you have an Endo practical coming up, bookmark this for later! 🤓

1. What was your side hustle? How did you get involved in it?

Christian: My side hustle was a couple of things. I started out actually selling used textbooks through Amazon FBA. After that, I had enough capital to start a photography business. I wanted to gain insights on photography because I knew I was going to need that skill in the future for clinical dentistry. I had a tax refund check that helped me get off the ground and so I used that to start up and buy my first camera. Since then, I have shot multiple weddings, proposals, engagements, family shoots, headshots, brand shoots, etc.

Jamaad: I established a tutoring firm, Advanced Tutoring LLC, a few months before I started dental school in 2017. I grew a passion for teaching children after I taught high-school seniors in an unprecedented study abroad opportunity that was presented to me in 2012. I taught advanced chemistry, physics and biology for one semester at Abaarso School for Science and Technology and it was during that time that I realized I wanted to make a difference in childrens’ lives through mentorship and tutoring.

2. Why did you pursue a side hustle in dental school?

Christian: I have always been business-oriented. I like to keep moving. Creative outlets, for me, is a nice place to be so I can just let my mind go free! I was big into Photoshop and Lightroom and that actually helped me pursue landscape photography, which is my true photographic passion.

Jamaad: I pursued a full-time hustle before I started dental school but didn’t want to give it up upon starting school. I formed a close bond with all of my students that I was tutoring and I couldn’t see myself leaving them. I juggled the trials and tribulations that accompanied overseeing a tutoring firm and being a full-time student. I hired a company manager to take over day-to-day operations as well as tutors to take over my role as a tutor, however I still remained as the main point of contact for parents and tutored some of my students. Throughout my journey, I was fortunate enough to generate enough income to help me get through dental school.

3. Was it difficult balancing school and your side hustle? How did you manage?

Christian: I definitely would say that I sacrificed my grades a little bit to follow my side hustle. With that said, I would not have changed a thing. Work life balance for me is so much more important than being #1. Again, I learned so many great business ideas, marketing concepts, management concepts, negotiation principles, etc. Everyone is different though, and I think that whatever you decide to do, go for it. Take that risk.

Jamaad: It was very hard to juggle both dental school and tutoring. I am a perfectionist so I like things to be perfect especially with the way I taught my students. There were times were I would come home after a long day in clinic and my students had exams the next day. Cognizant of their needs, I would stay up until the wee hours of the night as exhausted and mentally fatigued as I was. There would also be times where I would have an exam on the same day as my students so I had to juggle teaching and learning simultaneously. 

4. What advice do you have for dental students who are considering pursuing a side hustle while in school?

Christian: I spent a good amount of money on educating myself on business principles. I think one of the best investments you can make on yourself is through mentorship. Don’t reinvent the wheel. It will be a lot easier and more fulfilling if you follow in someone else’s footsteps that has already done what you want to do. Model success, don’t invent it.

Jamaad: It is definitely feasible. It’s not easy but nothing worth having/doing comes easy. It will test you and sometimes you will feel like you can’t juggle both, but when you do, and you succeed, nothing in the world can stop you from being successful. Don’t listen to those who say, “just focus on school”. You’ll surprisingly do better in school having a side hustle that triggers a different part of your brain. You will be a more well-rounded clinician. An integral part of becoming a good dentist is having a side hustle to ignite your business-savy side.

5. Any other tips for dental students looking to supplement their income while in school?

Christian: Contrary to my last question, live frugally. Loans add up. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live your life. Find something you’re interested in and don’t ask yourself, “Do you think I can make money doing x?” but rather, “How can I make money doing x?” Mindset is crucial to your success. Read mental toughness books. That along with playing soccer my entire life through college allowed me to realize how mentally tough you think you are and what you are capable of are two COMPLETELY different things. To quote Navy Seal David Goggins, “When you think you’re done, you have 40% left in the tank.”

Jamaad: You’ll be much more ready for corporate America having some experience with working with people. Go out and become that bartender you’ve always had an interest in. Go out and teach kids how to play soccer on the weekends. Better yet, go out and invest in stocks, flip some houses, trade, learn about crypto currency. The world is your oyster. The more risks you take, the more rewards you will receive.

 Recommended Reading:

How do you make YOUR side hustle work? Do you recommend any books on leadership/entrepreneurship? Comment below!


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