Side hustles hit the school

By Kevin Manne

Bob Neubert giving feedback in the classroom.

Bob Neubert. Photo: Douglas Levere

A startup faces many challenges on the way to becoming a successful business. Finding talented people is one of the biggest.

Bob Neubert, director of entrepreneurship academic programs, says the gig economy gives entrepreneurs access to a worldwide platform of highly talented people—at a price that works for new businesses.

“You don’t need to hire a full-time staff member or outsource to a firm to get your marketing materials up and running, for example,” he says. “With services like Fiverr or Upwork you can find the people you need, when you need them.”

This is part of how Neubert has weaved the gig economy into his entrepreneurship courses, where he shows students how to buy bits of expertise—from design work to bookkeeping, or even a part-time CFO.

Neubert has also used gig workers to help create class materials. He’s outsourced slide deck design, graphics and video work to create a consistent, high-quality look throughout the course.

In her workforce engagement course, Stephanie Argentine, adjunct instructor of organization and human resources, explores the future of work with her students, covering such topics as automation, artificial intelligence, the changing nature of jobs and the gig economy.

Gig work has implications for the school’s Career Resource Center, too.

While 90% of UB MBA graduates are employed in full-time careers within three months of graduation, Gwen Appelbaum, assistant dean and director of the CRC, says she’s seeing grads take up side hustles along with their 9-to-5 job.

“We’re preparing students for the many careers they’ll have throughout their lives,” she says. “Being able to take charge of their own career development, understanding their personal brand, being self-aware, and managing up, down and across, are vital to success in today’s world of work.”