A Formula for Success: Gig Work for College Students

Are you a college student looking for extra income to help pay for your education? If you answered “yes,” then consider opening up the door to the gig economy. Side hustles are great for the college lifestyle! With over 44 million Americans engaged in the gig economy, college student jobs make up a big chunk of that number, with half of college students working a minimum of 27 weeks a year, according to Forbes.

What exactly is the gig economy? It’s another word that groups together side hustles or local gigs - where people can earn money on their terms. You can take on work, when and where you want, as it fits into your schedule. You don’t have to commit to certain days and times or a minimum amount of hours, like you would for a part-time job. If you have an important exam, you can put the brakes on work and spend time studying. If your schedule opens up and you have some free time on your hands, simply check your phone for job/gig alerts. It’s often as simple as selecting the gig you’re interested in and clicking the “apply” button to get started!

As a college student, you’re in an excellent position to benefit from the gig economy. Why? College students are comfortable with technology, have flexible schedules and aren’t burdened with heavy personal expenses like many older employees. And for the majority of gigs, you don’t need a college degree to qualify for opportunities that can help boost your career options, long-term.

Remember, don’t over burden yourself. Your first job, of course, is your college education and maintaining good grades. Work is secondary. According to Ladders, the ideal number of workload a student can handle along with their studies is 10 to 15 hours. Research says students who work 10 to 15 hours a week are more likely to stay in school than those who do not work at all or those who work more than fifteen hours per week.

Ready to jump in and look for college student jobs? Here are four examples of gig work that are popular with college students:

  • Labor/ Physical Gigs 
    Want to build your muscles instead of your resume? No problem. There are all sorts of physical gigs, from landscaping, painting, cleaning, moving packages, snow shoveling, construction clean up and more!
  • Tutor
    Do you want to stand out as an expert in your field of study? Are you rocking your math, English or history classes? Consider tutoring in your area of study as a potential side hustle. It looks great on your resume when you can establish yourself as a cut above your competition.
  • Service Industry
    Being a part of the service industry requires quick, adaptable skills. Pick up a bartending shift, learn how to craft lattes as a barista or seat people at a restaurant as a host. Some of these jobs are based on tips, varying with the potential amount you may earn each shift, but customer service is another excellent skill to add to a resume. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and potentially increase your number of referrals when you begin searching for a full-time job post college.
  • Retail
    Are you fashion forward or into the latest mall clearance finds? Working in a retail store as a stocker, cashier or customer service rep can be a great option to explore as a college student. You’ll be able to learn transferable skills, like the basics of sales and customer service.

Gig work can be an excellent jump start to your future career and proves to prospective employers that you have the grit required to work and attend college at the same time. When you take on a variety of different side gigs, you get to build relationships with companies (maybe even find the one where you ultimately land a full-time job), develop business contacts and personal references (networking, anybody?) and explore career cultures.

The additional skills on your resume shows that you have an adaptable personality. It can help open doors and opportunities for the future, all while making extra cash to help pay off those student loans!

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