Gen Zer Balances Running a Business, 2 Jobs, and Grad School

  • I’ve been working since I was 15 years old to put myself through school and fund my business ventures.
  • I own and operate my own candle company while virtually attending graduate school.
  • I also have two jobs, so I’m not sure how Gen Z can be stereotyped as a lazy generation.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Dallas-based Arielle Artist, a 22-year-old graduate student and founder of I Am Candle Co. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Work has been a big part of my life since I was a teenager. It’s helped fund goals that I once dreamed of accomplishing, and right now I’m working more than ever to build the future I want for myself.

I graduated with a psychology degree in December 2021, and I’ve held various mental health professional positions since being out of undergraduate school. Eight months ago, I started a two-year graduate program to become a licensed professional counselor.

In 2022, I founded I Am Candle Co., a candle company owned and operated by just me. In between studying, working a full-time job, and part-time gig at a women’s shelter on the weekends, I hand pour candles and fulfill orders for my business.

I don’t know if I would call myself a hustler. The world feels so expensive these days. If you want to make a good life for yourself, there’s a lot of pressure to do more than just one thing. 

I’ve noticed that older generations, especially Gen X, see Gen Z as a lazy generation, but I really disagree. My parents have worked hard their whole lives to provide, so it took some time to prove to them that my entrepreneurship was legit. They thought I was just being lazy sitting at home everyday on my laptop or phone, but I was building my business.

I think Gen Zers just want to find more convenient ways than hard labor to make money. Who wouldn’t want to do that? 

I’m kind of doing it all right now

As a mental health professional who works with kids, I spend 40 hours per week seeing clients both virtually and in person. So, I’m traveling to schools all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area Monday through Friday, and weekends are my time to do schoolwork, any business-related tasks, and try to relax.

My second job is less demanding, and I can pick up weekend shifts manning the desk at a women’s shelter whenever I need extra cash. Even though I’m happy to be working in the psychology field like I’ve always wanted, juggling two jobs, a business, and school is tiring.

It can be draining in my line of work to talk about people’s trauma for hours each day. It’s hard not to bring those burdens home with me sometimes.

I try to be diligent about taking care of myself through all of this. I want to do it all, all of the time, but I’ve learned to take breaks. In March, I stepped back from my candle business to give my work and schooling more attention for a few weeks until I have the mental capacity to start up again.

My brand is all about wellness and self love, so I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t make efforts to preserve my mental health. 

I don’t want to ‘hustle’ forever

All this work I’m doing is so that I can be doing a lot less when I’m in my thirties. I’m hoping to go down to just one job and operating my candle business after I finish graduate school in 2024.

My current workload is functional now, but I know it’s not something I want to do forever. I think everyone wants to get to a place where they can earn money by either doing exactly what they love or doing nothing at all. I aim to land somewhere in the middle of that spectrum one day.



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