Cash-strapped students, take heart: There are ways to make money in college without sacrificing your sleep, studies or plasma.
Here’s the rundown on four different ways to earn some cash. The best option for you will depend on your needs: a steady paycheck, the occasional influx of coin or something you can put on the resume.
1. Side gigs
Consider college your main gig. Classes, homework and studying should take priority. But you can pick up work as your schedule allows, thanks to an ever-expanding gig economy. Side gigs let you dictate your schedule and workload, so you’re not juggling three shifts during midterms.
- Join TaskRabbit. Get paid to assemble furniture, do yardwork, run errands or simply wait in line. You must be at least 21, pass a background check, work in a metro area where TaskRabbit operates and pay a $20 fee. Read more about how to make money with TaskRabbit.
- Become a Wag walker. Pick up one-off and recurring dog-walking gigs with Wag. The app-based service lets you choose between 30- and 60-minute walks, which pay $20 and $30, respectively, minus Wag’s fee. You can also earn tips, which you get to keep in full. You must be at least 18, pass a background check and “pup quiz,” and complete an in-person orientation to start walking for Wag.
2. Quick cash
Need money now? Like, right now? Turn your old clothes, shoes and electronics into fast cash. Selling items you don’t use is an easy way to replenish your gas or grocery fund. Just make sure they actually belong to you because, no, your sister will not understand if you sell her sweater.
- Clothing: Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange pay cash money on the spot for gently worn clothes, shoes, jackets and handbags. Want to set your own pricing? Try Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Online consignment stores like ThredUp and Poshmark give you a wider potential customer base but don’t pay out as quickly.
- Electronics: EcoATM is a reverse vending machine for cell phones. Just find a kiosk, plug in your phone for inspection, agree to the price offered and walk away with cash in your wallet. You can also sell items such as smartphones, tablets, gaming systems and wearable electronics via sites like Gazelle, Swappa and NextWorth.
3. Part-time jobs
Flexibility is key here. You want a boss who will work around your class schedule, which will change every term, and your busy times at school — midterms, finals and major projects. Bonus points if the work aligns with your career interests or you can study on the job, says Timothy Jaconette, founder of Advanced Admit, a college guidance and coaching company.
- On campus: Few jobs will be more accommodating to students than those offered by the college or university itself. Try the library, the bookstore, the coffee shops and cafeterias. Want something tailored to your future career? Try the school’s health clinic or public relations office, or go straight to your professor. “You can actually go around and knock on professors’ doors asking for paid research jobs,” Jaconette says.
- Off campus: College towns offer plenty of student-friendly job opportunities. Serving and bartending gigs offer flexible hours, a steady paycheck and the chance to pocket tips each shift. Retail shops also cater to student employees. Office assistant and bank teller jobs typically pay better — and look better on your resume — but 9-to-5 operations don’t always jibe with students’ schedules.
4. Paid internships
One of the main differences between a paid internship and a part-time job: Internships often satisfy academic requirements, something that can rarely be said about bartending or waiting tables. And while internships are typically temporary — a semester, a summer or an entire school year — they can turn into lasting career opportunities.
Internships “give you loads of contacts to be in touch with after graduation,” says Valerie Streif, a senior advisor with Mentat, a career services company. “This is the best way to set you up with a career to walk into after you earn your degree.”
- Target businesses of interest. “Students should start by looking at specific companies of their interest and investigate if they offer internships,” Streif says. Check out a company’s marketing or advertising department if you’re a business or communications major. Or reach out to local nonprofits if you’re interested in social services.
- Attend career fairs. You can talk with multiple employers, who are there specifically to find and hire workers. Research the companies you’re interested in before you go, and dress professionally.
- Visit career services. Spend time with the counselors at your school career services office. Their primary job is to help students find internships and, eventually, careers.
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