How to Make Money

Looking for a Summer Job? You Might Want to Consider Gigs Instead

May 2, 2016
by Jamie Cattanach
Staff Writer
summer jobs

What was your summer job in high school and college?

For most of us, you could probably guess the answer in less than 20 tries.

Did you bag groceries? Scoop ice cream? Wait tables? Man a checkout line?

Yep, that’s what I thought.

But with the advent of the gig economy and its plethora of flexible, on-demand jobs, everything might change for this summer’s crop of job-seeking teens.

How The Gig Economy is Changing Summer Jobs

What do I mean by “gig economy”?

I’m referencing the trend toward temporary positions for independent workers — in short, gigs.

Lots of these gigs are peer-to-peer sharing services facilitated by an app — think Uber, Postmates, Fiverr and TaskRabbit.

You’re almost definitely familiar with these apps as a consumer.

But using them to work is becoming increasingly common, whether it’s a side gig or a main source of income.

And because gig-based work offers flexibility and independence, more and more students are turning to the sharing economy to fill their pockets over the summer months.

It makes sense.

Making your own hours is way more attractive than begging your movie theater co-workers to trade shifts if something comes up — to say nothing of getting the job in the first place.

“[Students] don’t have to sell themselves to neighbors or managers to get work” in the gig economy, observes Wall Street Journal writer Alina Dizik. “The on-demand jobs are largely there for the asking.”

I don’t know about you, but I remember filling out a lot of tedious retail applications every April, and I’m pretty pumped to (hopefully) never have to do so again.

Lots of sharing economy companies are embracing the influx of student workers, WSJ reports.

They call them “smart” and “enthusiastic,” and like that they tend to populate the platform during high-demand evenings and weekends. Postmates even advertises on college campuses.

But Dizik brings up some valid drawbacks students might not expect from these positions.

For instance, students might be used to the highly structured, school-day lifestyle and lack the discipline and time management skills required to make a decent amount of money as an independent contractor…

… Which might mean they don’t end up earning much at all.

Looking for Flexible Student Jobs?

Even if you don’t have a car to use for Uber or any skills to sell on Fiverr, you can find flexible work appropriate for students.

Here are 13 online jobs that pay $15 or more per hour.

If you’ve got a story to tell, you could try your hand at freelance writing or blogging, too. One guy’s blog did so well, he paid off his student loans before he graduated.

Or consider one of the more flexible options from this list of 100 summer jobs.

But if you do think you need some structure to stay on track, some retail options are better than others. Here are five high-paying retail jobs to get you started.

Plus, Target recently raised its minimum wage, and Costco’s pay rates are way higher than we thought.

Just make sure to disclose to managers you’re only going to be working seasonally. Otherwise, you may cause them some headaches when you suddenly resign in mid-August.

Your Turn: Will you ditch bagging groceries or flipping burgers to drive for Uber this summer?

Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She got (really) lucky in college and got to drive horse-drawn carriages for summer work. Her creative writing has been featured in DMQ Review, Hinchas de Poesia and elsewhere.

by Jamie Cattanach
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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