Social networking sites offer users a platform to promote their abilities and allow for works to be noticed by international forums

At a time when the bridge between our real and online presence is becoming more solid, there are a few students in the city who are trying to milk the internet for part-time jobs that are both satisfying and remunerative. Meet Pranav Chheda, R. Soundarya and Navin Narasimhan who have tapped the powers of social networking to monetise what started off as common hobbies.

Finding ways online

“When I decided to do something more about my aimless doodling on page margins, I joined a beauty parlour in my locality as a part-time mehendi designer,” says Soundarya, a final-year engineering student at SASTRA University.

When the parlour shifted a year later, Soundarya was left without a strong contacts base to continue.

“That is when I opened my own page on Facebook from where I hoped to build my own clientele,” she recalls.

Starting off with the steam provided by her friends, her page Maris Krishna Mehendi, has found her nearly 350 followers, exposed her to an entire community of mehendi designers and most importantly, tripled her earnings.

Pranav Chheda, a final-year engineering student at National Institute of Technology-Tiruchi, discovered that he had an eye for photographs on a trip to Leh and Ladakh last summer.

“It made me realise that the pictures we put up online could be more than the events in our lives and I decided to open a page to upload my photographs,” he says.

Social networking sites, which offer users a free platform to promote their abilities have redefined the kind of audience they can hope for: “There are scores of photography pages online, which not only broaden your horizon, but allows you to interact directly with renowned professionals across the globe; you could join photography groups and upload your work there and expect your work to get noticed by an international community; and if you are lucky to click a shot that goes viral, your reach can expand beyond your wildest expectations.”

While event coverage assignments have come his way in the past few months, Pranav is eyeing product photography.

Navin, a student of IIM-Tiruchi, is also the video editor at 7th Heaven Production, which released its first short film, ‘Ippadiyum Lock Aagalam’, in December 2011. “While the film received over 1,000 views on the first day, it has nearly 25,000 views on YouTube today,” says Navin, a little surprised at the count.

The core group of friends, who set up the company, have plans to convert it into an advertising firm and run it as a side business once they complete their education, according to Navin.

“At the moment, we are trying to build an online portfolio of video and multimedia content to offer potential clients in the future.”

Authenticity and security

Though their Facebook page and YouTube channel give them a definitive space online, Navin feels only a website would lend the authenticity that clients look for. “Besides, pages on social networking sites do not lend to incorporation of e-commerce and creative components,” says Navin, giving the flipside. As far as the security of creative content online goes, Soundarya recalls the time when her design was plagiarised at an online mehendi design contest.

“While professionals have a signature style, beginners like me can be easily plagiarised,” she rues.

Today, she has layered her security settings and is in the process of watermarking her photographs. While assisting at promotional events, freelancing and conducting tuitions at home continue to be the most common part-time jobs for students, online vistas enabling creative start-ups are definitely finding more takers.