I know how hard it is to be a student. Textbooks, courses, student loans, food and let’s not forget entertainment. You might feel overwhelmed in a world that fears the economy is tanking and the unemployment rate for young graduates in Canada is at 11.10 percent.
What if I told you that despite statistics, you could earn an income from a side gig, networking with your University or starting a small business you are passionate about.
I share these ideas with you because while I attended college, I was forced to think outside the box. My parents helped me with most of my education, but I travelled and used my own money without my parent’s help.
What does this mean to you? Never let other people tell you there are no means of earning money if you do not have a job. Here are the top ways to help your University and get paid.
1. Start a Freelance Gig
Are you a graphic designer? Do your friends ask you to proofread their homework assignments? I started my career as a freelancer in College, and it helped me gain the confidence to find clients in my circle of friends or online. I went from writing for a newspaper on campus in my College days to writing as a contributor for the Huffington Post and helping businesses with marketing materials today.
The best way to start is to set up on an account like Freelancemyway, Upwork, or Freelancer. You can bid on jobs and gain work experience freelancing that can be added to a resume for a full-time job.
A freelancing lifestyle can be fun because you set your hours and choose who you want to work. On the flip side, if you aren’t keeping up with innovation people will lose faith in your ability to step your game up. If you have no discipline, you will choose a Friday night party over completing an assignment and ruin the reputation that you are reliable.
Think of yourself as a small business. Customer service is the key to success!
• Use your tech skills as a graphic designer and build websites
With the help of WordPress and Wix, you can create websites for people in a short amount of time. According to Up work, rates freelance Graphic Designers earn can “vary from $20 to $150 an hour, with an average rate around $45 per hour.” As you build a list of clients or professors online that use your service, speak to your University about helping them create landing pages.
Build your website and add samples, your contact info, and rates. A freelancing lifestyle sounds exciting because you can work in your dorm, but it requires creativity and smart work. People won’t find you or know that you exist if you’re not out there networking and sharing your passion for designing websites.
2. Start a Part-Time Business
When most students hear the word ‘business’, they get discouraged. We live in a world that believes Bill Gates success story from University to a tech tycoon is the definition of success. Guess what? You define your success and what it means to you.
A part-time business can include selling old comic books or using your summer vacation to mow neighbor’s lawns. If you are an epic pastry cook, why not sell your cookies or muffins on campus to students at a price they can afford.
As a word of caution, owning a business is not a hobby. You need to wake up early and at times fall asleep late to complete orders. There will be happy customers and people that will quickly tell you that your product sucks. At tax time, you need to prepare your receipts and calculate all earnings because Canada Revenue needs it for small business reporting.
If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, it will be easier said than done.
• Sell old textbooks online (i.e., Amazon, eBay)
What do you do with your old textbooks? They don’t have to collect dust on your bookshelf or remain in your parent’s basement. I started selling my books online one summer and made $400 without having to try hard. I wrote the descriptions in asterisk (*) and was honest about the fact a textbook was in a used condition, or there were a few wrinkles throughout pages in the book.
My goal was to upload the books right before a new semester started because I knew students would search for it online.
An online business takes time. You must be committed to keeping in contact with customers that ask question’s about products. Once you receive an email notification that your book was sold, you can’t go past the deadline to mail it to a customer. When a customer is unhappy with a book, the transaction can turn into a refund, and you might easily get discouraged.
I encourage you to be diligent about building a top rating on eBay and Amazon for other students to believe you are the right person to purchase textbooks from each semester.
3. Apply for a University or College position
• Work at the library
Although my brother went to Culinary Arts University, he found a job on campus at a library. He learned how to communicate with diverse groups of visitors. It gave him the confidence to work with older adults. The fact he worked at a well-known establishment looked good on his resume to future employers.
A part-time job that is opposite of your major doesn’t mean you are a failure because it is temporary. As you network with your coworkers, they might help you in the right direction of your dream job.
It might feel as if you are in a dead-end job as time passes. You might get stuck in this position for the rest of your academic career. Don’t let up! Use the money to pay your student loans and work hard. You can use this job as a reference to land the job you always wanted shortly.
• Work study position
As some students are struggling to get by, the work-study program at your College or University helps students in need of financial help. The number of hours you can work is between 20 – 200 each semester. A work-study job is not a typical student’s dream job but if you are fine with working in research, administrative or technical positions, give it a try.
The downside to a work-study position is the hourly rate is typically between $11 – $13 an hour which is minimum wage. If you spend up to 20 hours a week in this position, you might have to take 1 – 2 classes per semester, and it can extend the time it takes for you to graduate.
You might have to say goodbye to the student organization membership and social events on campus. If you are a freshman, I recommend you wait until your second year to apply for a work-study program.
• Campus Ambassador
Think of yourself as a student leader when you become an Ambassador for your University. You will have to give campus tours, complete orientations, mentor and give advice to potential students and work at the recruitment office. Depending on what University you attend, you might have to work up to 5 hours every week.
The downside to this position is you will have less time to hang out with friends. You have to work in a fast-paced environment, and if you don’t have time management skills, you might consider quitting.
4. Become a Social Media Guru
Do you have an established social media following? Why not use your skills to promote your University? You don’t have to wait in line for a job to use your social influence.
Speak with the manager at a restaurant franchise. Set up an appointment with the dean at your University to see if you can use your social media pages to recruit new students. Don’t forget to discuss compensation for what you will receive in exchange for the new business you bring in. The Canada Business Network has a list of ideas to successfully negotiate compensation.