5 Nigerians Talk About Balancing Their Day Jobs And Side Gigs

August 12, 2021

From recent conversations happening on social media, it seems like there are two warring factions discussing the culture of side gigs. One school of thought thinks Nigerians are within their rights to look for side jobs while the second argues that it’s not fair on employers as they bear the brunt of this. 

It makes sense that Nigerians work multiple jobs concurrently. Living on a salary is becoming increasingly difficult, no thanks to rising inflation and plummeting purchasing power. We decided to speak to a couple of Nigerians who have day jobs and side gigs and ask them about how they balance the demands of both jobs. 

1. Ola, 25

My role at my day job has increased in the past few months but my salary hasn’t. I make extra money from side gigs, but the existence of my day job is even threatening this. There are lots of demands from my day job that it’s hard to work on the side projects during the week. So I end up using my weekends to work on them. I’m actually behind the deadline for one of my side job assignments right now.

Now, my 9-5 pays in Naira while my side gigs pay in Dollars. It would make sense to quit my day job and focus on the dollar gigs but I can’t. I feel like I owe my boss. Asides from that, there’s nothing keeping me there anymore because I’m doing more than my job description for little money. 

2. Lanre, 27

Every great developer I know runs multiple gigs and I’ve been working as a software developer for about four years now. When I started out, my mentor at my workplace at the time had a bunch of gigs coming his way and would outsource some of them to me. This was my introduction to side gigs. 

When I got my first side gig at a freelance company that hired African developers, It was difficult to combine it with my day job — which to be honest, was more of a 9 a.m. to 12 a.m arrangement. But the motivation was to make more money and at the same time, become a better developer. I made it work, but my weekends and any free time I had suffered for it. 

More recently, I’ve worked two full-time jobs concurrently — one in Nigeria and the other in Canada. Every day, I’d wake up by 4 a.m. to finish hard tasks before 9 a.m. and work on the simpler tasks and attend meetings during the day. Whatever I couldn’t do during the week, I did on weekends. I burned out eventually, so I dropped one. 

I’ve never had more than two running gigs at a time. The one time I had three, I failed to deliver. Also, I place priority on the full-time job over the side job, which is easy to do because side gigs have more flexible deadlines. Personally, I don’t think having a day job and a side job is a problem if the employee delivers. Besides, there’s not much that employers can do to prevent this. The best talents will always attract multiple opportunities. 

3. Kadet

A lot of tech roles these days are remote. The good thing about this is that people who work in tech can easily have a full-time job, a side contract and a few personal projects. Nigerian employers’ argument against this is that there’s no way anyone could possibly deliver when they work two to three jobs at the same time. This is not entirely accurate.

I currently work two jobs. I was going to get the third one but I knew I couldn’t keep up, so I turned the offer down. Before these jobs, I worked at a Nigerian company and man, they almost killed me. It was only one job, but it felt like five. I couldn’t take a break without thinking, “Omo, I still have tasks to do.” I was writing code for 40 hours a week and this doesn’t include the hours I spend on meetings and other tasks. I  gave everything to these guys but the only thing that kept coming were complaints about the quality of my work. I was eventually fired because I asked for a one-week break. Why did I ask for time off? My mental health was almost at a zero. 

My next job was at a European startup. A few weeks later, I got another offer and I took it. I currently work both jobs and — I’m not trying to brag — I’m a star employee at both. 

What’s more? My employers know that I have two jobs but they don’t care. The only thing that matters is that I do my job properly and deliver on time. I’m happy, earn well at both companies — better than anything a Nigerian company has offered me — and have enough time to work on personal side projects if I want to and watch Anime. 

I should also add that working multiple jobs isn’t fun. I’m just trying to survive. If anything, I’d love to sleep and watch movies as much as I can, but here we are. 

4. Japheth

I’m a student, and time is a scarce resource for me. I have a job that pays me around 300k per month. It helps with some of the bills, including school expenses but what is left is never enough to take care of several other things. So I work side gigs to augment my income and these bring about 700k every two months. 

Typically, my days start at 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m. and run late into the night. It’s very exhausting but at the end of the day, it’s okay. I don’t believe that it’s impossible or wrong to run multiple jobs at the same time. The only important thing is working within your limit and saying no to side gigs that aren’t worth it. I lost sight of this and almost had a mental breakdown during lockdown last year. Things were tight and I had bills to pay. I took up four low-paying side gigs out of desperation and it didn’t work out well. Eventually, I had to default on one, referred one to a friend and finished working on the remaining two. 

5. Mayowa, 22

I work as a culture reporter and run a merch business on the side. My 9-5 takes prominence, so I don’t have a lot of contracts coming in from my side business. This also has something to do with the fact that I’m not much of a business-oriented person. However, the contracts do come in and when they do, I have to make market runs during the day and source materials. Ordinarily, it should affect my tasks at my day job but I plan ahead and make sure that the tasks I have at hand while I’m out are things I can do on my phone. I think I balance both pretty well. Maybe it would be different if I had more contracts coming in. Or maybe it wouldn’t — I can always outsource tasks related to my side business. 

Toheeb Lanlehin

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