How College Students Can Take Advantage of the Gig Economy

By Uloop Guest Writer on July 7, 2017

This story was written by Alexa Paikowski at StudySoup, a peer-to-peer learning marketplace that connects top students in the class with those who need a little help. Top students can upload their notes and study guides to the StudySoup Marketplace, providing their peers with helpful materials while also earning some extra cash.

By 2020, it’s estimated that 40 percent of the workforce will be made up of freelance workers or what’s known as the “gig economy.” And though this growing trend has largely been looked at by experienced employees seeking greater flexibility or more independence, there are boundless opportunities for college students as well.

Side hustles are jobs (aka “gigs”) you can do on your own time, however much or little you want. They can help fill your wallet, fit in with your crazy academic schedule, and sometimes even boost your resume. It’s all about finding the right opportunity for you.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started on your own college side hustle.

Create Your Own Online Store

Have a ton of extra stuff that you don’t actually need? You might consider selling it online. As the old adage goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Maybe you have old dorm stuff you don’t need anymore — try selling it off on Ebay. Or perhaps you need to sell some old clothes after realizing your wardrobe could really use some updating.

If you’re creative, you might even consider selling some of your own original work through online marketplaces such as Etsy. Who knows — you might even end up with your own small business.

Offer Some Assistance

Don’t mind helping out with basic tasks? A virtual assistant gig might be right for you. And no, we’re not talking about Apple Siri here.

This role is very similar to a personal assistant, except it’s a remote position. The tasks themselves depend on the job, but often they include managing calendars, responding to emails, writing blog articles, posting on social media and booking travel reservations.

Sites like Upwork, TaskRabbit, and Fiverr are filled with virtual assistant opportunities. Really, all you need to get started is a computer and phone.

VA jobs are fantastic for those looking to get experience in a lot of different tasks. For instance, you might have the opportunity to design a site one week and be doing industry research the next. Use it as a chance to gain experience for your resume or make connections with key people in an industry you’re looking to work in after graduation.

Pick Up Food for Fellow College Students

College students have been delivering food to earn extra cash for some time now, so this isn’t exactly a new idea. But instead of having to schedule shifts at just one restaurant, you now have the opportunity to work on your time and deliver from virtually any restaurant.

Apps such as JoyRun connect hungry students with peers who are willing to pick up food from any local restaurant and deliver it to them. And unlike the old school pizza delivery days, you don’t have to set a schedule ahead of time, instead working whenever is convenient for you. You could even do just an hour between classes, or stay available for a few hours at a time and really rake in some money.

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These gigs aren’t too shabby in terms of pay either. Another popular delivery app, Favor, guarantees runners at least $9/hour. But it’s not unheard of for students to make between $10-$18/hour. Even better? You don’t have to hand over any of your tips.

Finally food delivery isn’t just about earning extra cash either. It’s actually a pretty good opportunity to pick up some key career-building skills such as time management and customer service skills in the process.

Show Off Your Writing Skills

Writing isn’t just important for journalism and communication majors. Regardless of what you’re majoring in, it’s important to be able to write effectively. In fact, 44 percent of managers say that writing proficiency is the number one skill new college graduates are lacking in. So gaining some writing experience while you’re still in school can really help to set you ahead of the competition upon graduation.

And as they say, practice makes perfect! Freelance writing jobs are relatively easy to stumble upon. Start out by looking through one-time opportunities through sites such as Upwork. These sites provide a great opportunity for you to practice different writing styles and for different projects.

Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, try reaching out to companies looking for regular blog contributors for recurring writing jobs.

Donating Plasma

Ok, yes, this one may sound a bit weird at first. But with compensation for plasma donations ranging from $50-$70 per donation, it’s an option many students consider. As long as you are above 18 years old and 110 pounds, you are most likely eligible to donate plasma. Though the donation may cause a little discomfort, you earn the money on the spot and are additionally helping someone in need. Why not help the world out a bit while making some extra money?

Now ideally, a college side hustle should do more than just earn you some extra cash. It should also serve as a way for you to gain experience and boost your resume. So instead of just donating plasma once or twice, volunteer to help set up plasma drives. You likely won’t earn cash for volunteering, but you’ll certainly have something for your resume. And you can still earn a little money by donating yourself.

You can even boost your campus involvement and marketing experience through setting up tables or booths, running a plasma fair, or advertising the event on social media. Getting involved in something important and learning about how to market it and make it grow could be a vital addition to your resume, as well as a unique and impressive experience for future interviews. Money, charity, and experience all in one? Sounds like a well-rounded college side hustle to me.

Overall, there are many ways to make money in college without restricting yourself to a tight schedule or working a job that you hate just to make minimum wage. All you have to do is get a little creative and be open to any opportunities around you. What are some other college side hustles you’ve heard about around your campus?

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