Junior Writer

While there are a lot of legitimate ways to make money at home, having a regular work-from-home job is sometimes the simplest way to ensure a steady income and a stable working environment.

And while everyone has their own reason for wanting to work from home, there’s no denying that the flexible schedule, lack of commute and the ability to earn a living from the comfort of your own home are reason enough.

(The whole no pants thing just sweetens the deal.)

4 Work-From-Home Jobs You Can Apply for Now

Today, we’ve got four work-from-home jobs that we think you might be interested in. And with a list of job titles ranging from writer to “Happiness Engineer,” there seems to be a little something for everyone.

And if you don’t see a job here that works for you, be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook! We post awesome work-from-home opportunities there whenever we find them.

1. Travel Agent at Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts is a mountain resort company that specializes in luxury travel.

The company is currently looking for a full-time work-from-home seasonal travel agent to answer inbound calls and assist customers with booking customized vacation packages.

You should have a high school diploma or equivalent, at last six months’ experience working in sales or as a travel agent, excellent communication and active listening skills and proficiency with a computer.

Bonus points if you have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, past experience working from home, knowledge of the ski and snowboard industry or vacation planning experience.

If you speak Spanish proficiently, you may be eligible for additional pay.

You must have a secure, wired internet connection, a landline telephone connection and a quiet home office space. The company will provide you with most of the technical equipment needed, including a headset, telephone and webcam.

This is a full-time, seasonal position lasting six to seven months. You should be available to work 40 hours per week, including evenings, weekends and holidays, and you may be asked to work additional hours during peak season.

You should be located near Salt Lake City, Utah, as you will be required to participate in on-site training for the first three weeks. After the initial three weeks, you’ll complete virtual training from home.

Pay includes an hourly base pay plus commission. The company says agents earn an average of $15 per hour.

Benefits include medical, dental and vision insurance and a 401(K) plan, among plenty of other perks. Plus, you’ll receive a complimentary season ski pass for you and your family, as well as discounts on retail, food, lodging and transportation at select Vail Resorts locations.

To apply for this job, go here.

2. Happiness Engineer at Automattic

Automattic is the company behind the software that powers sites like WordPress and WooCommerce.

The company is currently looking for a Happiness Engineer to provide customer and user support via live chat, tickets, forums and one-on-one screen sharing.    

You should, first and foremost, be passionate about making people happy. You should also be able to answer people’s questions efficiently and help customers understand how to get the most out of Automattic’s products.

You should have patience and compassion, excellent written and verbal communication skills and some basic technical knowledge including HTML and CSS.

While the nature of the job sometimes requires, evening, weekend and holiday hours, you may have the ability to craft your own schedule around your needs.

Pay and benefits are not listed, but we’ve reached out to the company and will update this post when we hear back.

Go here to apply for this job, but be sure to read all the way to the bottom so that you can answer all of the required questions.

3. Editorial Assistant at Student Loan Hero

Student Loan Hero is a platform that helps users manage and pay off their student loans.

The company is currently looking for an editorial assistant to help with every aspect of the publishing process across a variety of platforms, including the blog, columns, ebooks and email.

As an editorial assistant, you’ll be in charge of maintaining the editorial calendar, managing workflow, performing research and fact checking, creating posts, sourcing photos and publishing content, along with various other tasks.

You should have a bachelor’s degree (a focus in journalism, English or media studies is preferred), and one to two years of experience in an editorial or administrative support role including internships, school newspapers or other relevant college activities.

You should possess excellent reading, writing and communication skills, strong proofreading abilities, a solid handle on grammar, a strong attention to detail and excellent time management skills.

Hours are flexible, and the company encourages you to work when you’re most productive -- and from anywhere in the world.

Pay will be based on experience and location. Benefits include unlimited vacation, new technology and a technology stipend, a remote workspace stipend, 100% paid health insurance premiums and some other awesome health care perks. You’ll also receive a continuing education stipend, a retirement account match and a student loan repayment match.

To apply for this job, go here.

4. Writer at Student Loan Hero

The same company is also looking for a writer to craft blog posts and create content about student loans and general finance related issues.

You’ll be in charge of identifying, pitching, researching and writing about various student loan related topics, conducting source interviews and turning around quick, breaking news pieces.

You should have at least two years of experience writing and publishing online (preferably in a blogging format) and a familiarity with blogging formatting, style and tone. You should also be familiar with Wordpress and have experience conducting interviews for articles.

Bonus points if you have experience writing about financial topics and an understanding of SEO best practices.

You should be available to work full-time, but hours are flexible and the company encourages you to work whenever and wherever you’re most productive.

Pay will be based on experience and location. Benefits include unlimited vacation, new technology and a technology stipend, a remote workspace stipend, 100% paid health insurance premiums and some other awesome health care perks. You’ll also receive a continuing education stipend, a retirement account match and a student loan repayment match.

To apply for this job, go here.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Last week, Target launched a line of inexpensive sensory-friendly clothing for kids.

Children with sensory-processing sensitivities often cannot wear clothing decorated with heavy embellishments and scratchy tags because of how their nervous systems interpret sensory stimulation.

The clothes in this new collection feature flat seams, flexible, one-dimensional graphics and heat-transferred labels in place of tags which all help to “minimize discomfort when in contact with the skin.” The leggings also have a more relaxed fit on the hips and a higher rise to fit over diapers, when needed, for older kids.

The new collection is an offshoot of Target’s successful children’s clothing line, Cat & Jack, which the company rolled out last year. The pieces are based around designs already featured in the Cat & Jack collection, so parents won’t have to compromise on fun, kid-friendly style. Low prices are an added bonus and should make it easier for parents and caregivers to begin adding the pieces into their child’s wardrobe.

Items in this sensory-friendly line range from $4.50 to $7 and come in toddler sizes 2T to 5T and kids’ extra-small to extra-large.

What Prompted Target’s New Line of Sensory Clothes

In a blog post on the company’s corporate website, Target designer Stacey Monsen and Senior Vice President of Product Design and Development Julie Guggemos explained the motivation behind the collection and the ongoing efforts to design more accommodating items for Target shoppers.

Monsen says she has trouble finding clothes that her 7-year-old daughter, who has autism. “She’s not potty-trained,” Monsen explains. “For pants or shorts, I either size way up, or buy pieces that are all function, no style.”

After realizing that she wasn’t alone in her struggle to find cute, comfortable clothes for children living with disabilities, Monsen decided to bring the need to Guggemos’ attention.

Guggemos was thrilled at the prospect of offering more inclusive pieces to customers.

“While it’s just a few pieces in the line,” Guggemos says, “for some families, they’ll make a huge difference.”

The design team worked with parents of children living with disabilities and various organizations to get a more comprehensive idea of what challenges families face when it comes to clothing. The research will be ongoing as the company works to expand the line to address a wider variety of needs.

Currently, Target offers a limited selection of pieces -- a few T-shirts, some long-sleeved shirts and leggings -- only available online. However, Guggemos explained that a line of adaptive clothing for children with disabilities is also on the way this fall. That collection may include features such as zip-off sleeves and pieces that open on the side or back for those lying down or sitting.

A Target spokesperson told Disability Scoop that depending on customer feedback and the performance of the sensory clothes in the Cat & Jack line, the company will consider offering adaptive and sensory-friendly clothing in adult sizes.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

The dream: actually being able to keep up with all your reality TV shows without that little thing called work getting in the way.

The reality: getting home from another long day with just enough time to catch the last five minutes of “The Bachelor” and then having to scroll Twitter to figure out what you missed.

The new reality (if you get this job, anyway): staying home in your PJs all day, bingeing on all your shows and then writing about them so that everyone understands your exact feelings about Kylie’s new car, the latest housewife table flip and why that one guy DOESN’T DESERVE A ROSE.

Almost sounds too good to be true, right? But it’s not.

Right now, online publication Bustle is looking for part-time writers to cover reality TV and work from home.

No, really.

(Pssst: We post a lot of super awesome work-from-home jobs like this one on our Jobs page on Facebook. Check it out, and be the first to see new work-from-home job opportunities!)

Write About Reality TV for Bustle

Bustle is currently looking for “entertainment writers with a passion for reality TV” to write about the latest celeb antics and reality competition shows.

The right fit will have extensive knowledge of entertainment television and pop culture, a strong and humorous writing voice, strong judgment and the ability to write quickly and cleanly. You should also be a little too invested (but in a good way) in all things E! and Bravo, like “The Real Housewives” and every variation of “The Bachelor.”

You’ll need to be available at least three full days per week, although you could choose to work as many as five. You should be prepared to take on interviews and live coverage when the need arises.

To be successful in this role, you should have a degree in journalism, communications or a related field, as well as at least two years of experience reporting, writing or blogging (particularly within the celebrity and entertainment world).

There is no information on pay or benefits included in the job listing, but we’ve reached out to the company to find out more details and will update this post when we hear back.

Go here to apply for this job, and don’t forget to include your current reality TV obsessions in your cover letter!

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

During my sophomore year of college, I (stupidly) decided buying a concert ticket was more important than purchasing an expensive -- but necessary -- textbook for one of my classes.

I struggled through that semester, borrowing the book from a classmate or from the library when it was available. I eventually passed the class, albeit by a pretty slim margin.

But can you blame me? I mean, with some textbook prices hovering in the $200 range, it’s hard to wrap your head around the thought of shelling out that kind of cash, knowing you won’t be able to make even a fraction of it back at the end of the semester when you try to sell the book back to the bookstore.

And while there are ways to save on textbooks -- and on the rest of your college experience -- pricy textbooks can still feel like a pretty big ripoff.

But what if I told you you didn’t have to pay for textbooks at all?

What if there were a resource that would allow you to access textbooks and course materials absolutely free?

Well there is, and it’s called the Open Textbook Network.

Free College Textbooks Through the Open Textbook Network

The Open Textbook Network is an organization that aims to improve and advance the use of open textbook sharing practices on college campuses.

It maintains the Open Textbook Library, which houses a resource of peer-reviewed academic textbooks online.

The textbooks are “free, openly licensed, and complete,” meaning that students have full access to the entire text -- without paying a cent.

University faculty members are invited to choose the entirety of their coursework through the network, which allows their students to avoid the high fees charged by traditional book sellers.

How Do I Use the Open Textbook Network?

The Open Textbook Network has more than 500 members across the U.S., including schools like Clemson and Ohio State.

Students of these universities can use their student email address or a URL from a faculty member to access the resources on the organization’s site. These resources include data collection tools, slide decks, instructional support and the aforementioned textbooks.

The library features textbooks on everything from chemistry to philosophy, and professors and faculty members are even welcome to write and submit their own textbooks for use in the Open Textbook Library.

If you think your university needs to become a member of the Open Textbook Network (so that you can get your hands on some free books), talk to a faculty member at your school about joining. They can go here to begin the application process.

As the network grows through community contributions and university participation, the library will continue to expand, offering more textbook and coursework options.

And who knows? Maybe someday overpriced textbooks will be a thing of the past. Then, hopefully, students will be able to focus a little less on finances and a little more on cramming for that big test.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

During my freshman year, I caught the classic college kid sickness: mono (I know).

I’m alive and well today, but for about four weeks in the middle of the fall semester, my throat was so sore that I couldn’t even think about the unlimited pizza, salad bar, waffles, barbecue, taco bowls and made-to-order paninis and omelets that were served in the dining hall.

Instead, I had my roommate bring back to-go containers full of yogurt -- pretty much the only thing I could manage to eat for an entire month.

And while sleeping 18 hours a day (not as pleasant as it sounds) and consequently having to withdraw from one of my classes seemed bad enough, that wasn’t even the worst part.

No, the worst part revealed itself today, almost four years later, as I sat here and calculated approximately how much money I wasted by not taking advantage of my unlimited meal plan for a whole month out of the semester.

The damage? About $500.

Ouch.

Mandatory Meal Plans

[caption id="attachment_63627" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Lunch from Juniper Hall at the University of South Florida. Montoya eats chicken masala and potato curry for lunch from Juniper Hall at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

The thing is, I didn’t really have a choice. My school required all first-year students to purchase a meal plan -- and that’s pretty much the standard at universities across the U.S. nowadays.

Trevor Montoya is a sophomore at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Last year, while living on campus as a freshman, Montoya was required to purchase a meal plan. He opted for the unlimited plan and paid about $1,800 per 15-week semester.

(If you’re wondering why he chose the most expensive meal plan, consider that the cheapest meal plan he was allowed to purchase cost about $1,600 -- and he would have only been able to eat about nine meals per week.)

Compared to some schools, however, USF’s pricing is on the lower end.

Lizzy Pelletier, an incoming freshman at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, told me that she’ll be paying $2,600 per semester for her unlimited meal plan. She says she doesn’t feel added pressure to make her meal plan “worth it,” but will probably spend less money going out to eat knowing that she already has a prepaid meal waiting for her.

“My plan is definitely on the expensive side,” she notes, “but because its options are a step above the ordinary cafeteria choices, and the location is extremely convenient, I think I will be getting my money's worth.”

Still, she’s excited for the day when she has her own kitchen to cook in -- as is Montoya. For the upcoming school year, Montoya will be moving to an off-campus apartment where he’ll have a full kitchen. He plans to cook most of his meals at home and will split a lot of the expenses and meal prep with his roommate.

“My roommate does a lot of cooking,” Montoya laughed, “so I hope to have some teamwork there.”

And while he had spoken pretty positively of his dining hall experience up to this point, when I asked if he would be stopping by the on-campus dining hall between classes this year he hesitated before saying, “An individual meal there is, like, $10-12 -- and that’s just kind of nuts for the quality of the food.”

That seems to be the general attitude surrounding meal plans, though: I wouldn’t pay for it if I had a choice, but since I don’t, I might as well eat.

An Unavoidable Cost

For students like Pelletier who have scholarships and other forms of tuition assistance, mandatory meal plans are an accepted part of the college experience. But for others, that extra several thousand for the not-so-great food that they could survive without will be tacked onto ever-growing student loans.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like mandatory meal plans are going anywhere anytime soon.

Universities across the U.S. have locked into long-term contracts with dining service providers. These agreements are built on the guarantee that students will continue to be forced to pay for meal plans if they wish to attend these schools.

So while it doesn’t seem like we’ll see an end to the mandatory meal plan anytime soon, there are strategies students can use to keep their food costs down for the rest of their college experience in an effort to recoup (or at least try to recoup) some of that money.

4 Ways to Cut Your College Food Costs

[caption id="attachment_63629" align="alignnone" width="1200"]USF students eat lunch inside Marshall Student Hall while studying for final exams . Students eat lunch inside the Marshall Student Center at USF in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

After that first year, use these tips and tricks to keep your food costs as low as possible -- and avoid additional college debt.

1. Learn How to Grocery Shop

Since you’ll be buying your own food, you’ll have to become a smart shopper.

First, check out these tips for saving money every time you grocery shop, and then follow these steps to slice your grocery bill in half. You might want to skip the one about raising your own animals for food, though -- that off-campus housing isn’t really conducive to chicken farming.

Figure out how to store your favorite foods so they don’t end up in the trash, and learn which ones you can freeze and keep for later. That way, when there are sales on foods you know you’ll eat, you can stock up.  

Also, be sure you’re not making any of these embarrassing mistakes when you grocery shop. (You’re in college, I know you know how to make a list. Make a list!)

2. Learn How to Cook

Cooking at home will save you so much money. Just trust me on this one.

Before you can learn how to cook, though, you’ll need to make sure your kitchen is stocked with the right tools -- and only the right tools. The one thing that isn’t on that list that will be a huge time and money saver, though? A slow cooker.

Find some recipes you enjoy that aren’t too complicated (or expensive). Go here to find a free downloadable cookbook that will teach you how to make delicious, healthy and inexpensive meals.

If you have a hectic class schedule or you know you’ll be too tired to cook after your intramural flag football game, do some meal prep on your day off to ensure you stay far away from pricy takeout. All you have to do is reheat and eat -- and thank your Saturday self for taking such good care of your Tuesday self.

If you’re really pinched for time (or cooking space), here are some meals that can be made in a mug -- in the microwave -- and all for less than $4.

3. Learn How to Budget

The thing is, you can be the smartest shopper and meal prepper in the world, but if you don’t stick to a budget, you’ll still wind up limping over the finish line each month as you eat that last package of oyster crackers you managed to dig out of your car seats.

The first step to creating your budget will be to track your expenses. Once you know where your money needs to go (and where it doesn’t) each month, you’ll have a better idea of what limits to set for yourself.

Then, create a budget based around your expense tracker findings -- and stick to it! If you’re working your way through school with a job that leaves you with cash tips at the end of the day, don’t worry: you can still make a budget that works.

4. Learn Where the Discounts (and Free Food) Are

Tonight, your roommates want to go out for a birthday dinner -- and you really want to go with them. And that’s OK, because you’ve done an excellent job of sticking to your budget and wait, what’s this? You have enough money left in the food category to treat yourself!

The key to treating yourself on a college budget is to take deals wherever you find them (that includes the free pizza that one club is giving away at the student union later today). And the key to finding the best deals and discounts? It’s that little rectangle with your embarrassing orientation day photo on it: your student ID.

Your student ID will get you discounts on everything from movie tickets to museums

-- and a lot of restaurants in between, especially on or near campus. (Pro-tip: your .edu email address will score you a few more.) Not all of them will advertise that fact though, so don’t be afraid to ask if a restaurant offers a little discount for college students.

If you end up at a restaurant that doesn’t offer student discounts, don’t freak out: there are plenty of ways to save on going out to eat.

And next time a birthday rolls around, skip the restaurant and get everyone together for a potluck instead -- everyone brings a small, shareable dish of their favorite food, and no one has to dip into their already stressed out wallets.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Are you one of those people who loves to know a little bit about a lot of things?

Does your brain refuse to sleep at night until you’ve looked up the one nagging question that’s been vying for your attention all day?

Do you have an arsenal of useless information swimming around in your head, taking up precious real estate that might be better used on, ya’ know, things that matter?

If these questions were way too eerily spot on, then we might have the perfect new side gig for you: a researcher for Wonder.

(Also, if this really did describe you, hit me up and we can geek out together about exactly how many pennies are floating around the U.S. or how carpet is made or why the title “Notary Public” falls in noun-adjective order and not the other way around.)

The Perfect Side Gig for Research Geeks

Wonder provides customers with information and resources in the form of data, lists and spreadsheets sourced from an army of freelance researchers.

Right now, the company needs some extra brainpower and is looking for people who want to work from home as freelance researchers, fulfilling customer requests by diving deep into various topics and questions.

As a researcher for Wonder, you’ll be able to choose which projects you work on and can set your own schedule. How much you make is up to you: researchers are paid per completed project, and you’ll choose how many projects you want to complete.

According to Wonder, top researchers can earn as much as $15 to $25 per hour. However, writer and former Wonder researcher Jamie Cattanach told us that a more realistic pay expectation is about $13 per hour when you factor in the average length of time it takes to complete a research project.

How to Do Online Research for Wonder

The research process seems pretty straightforward, and the platform is simple to use.

If you’re ready to become a researcher for Wonder, you can go here to fill out an application. If your application checks out, you’ll be contacted and asked to perform a preliminary research project to see if you’re a good fit.

“You have to complete a research project gratis to qualify, and that’s about a two-hour time investment,” Cattanach noted.

Once you’ve been accepted as a researcher, you’re free to accept or refuse projects as they come up. You’ll go to the Research Dashboard, pick the topic you want to research and spend a couple of hours finding answers and synthesizing the information into an easy-to-read format before submitting it.

A community of peer researchers will review the research and let you know if it needs any changes, fixes or additional information. Once it’s accepted, you can move on to your next project.

For the first few projects you complete for Wonder, you’ll probably be asked to do more edits than you expected as you learn proper formatting and what the company is looking for in a finished piece of research.

Once you get the hang of it, however, you’ll start to earn more money for your time as your skills improve.

While most researchers don’t have access to enough projects to make a full-time income, this may be a great option for making a little extra cash on the side. Plus, it’s an opportunity to expand your skill-set -- and your knowledge. “If you’re genuinely interested in learning, it’s awesome,” said Cattanach.

Overall, this sounds like a great side gig for anyone who thrives on having a brain full of random facts and figures (and a pocket full of cash).

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Landing a great work-from-home job can be life-changing.

Whether you’re looking to stay home with your kids during the days, bring in a little extra income on the side or put an end to the three-hour, round-trip commute, working from the comfort of your own home can make all the difference in your quality of life.

And when that work-from-home job comes with good pay, great benefits or an extra-flexible schedule? That’s just the icing on the cake.

These customer service jobs (plus one awesome captioning opportunity!) have a little bit of everything to suit a variety of needs: part-time, full-time, night shift, day shift, awesome benefits and solid pay -- these jobs have it all (so that you can, too).

If you’ve been looking for an awesome work-from-home opportunity, you’re going to want to read on.

Also, be sure to follow our Jobs page on Facebook. We post awesome work-from-home opportunities there all the time!

6 Work-From-Home Jobs to Apply for Right Now

You can check out these six awesome work-from-home job opportunities below!

1. Customer Success Agent at Genesis Digital

Genesis Digital provides web-based e-commerce solutions for businesses of all sizes.

The company is currently looking for a customer success agent to be the first point of contact for its customer base.

You’ll resolve customer issues and inquiries via email, live chat and the occasional phone call. You may also assist in various other customer success projects, such as video training with clients, content creation for a “knowledgebase” and the development of better strategies for the customer success team to implement.

You should have experience dealing with technical issues, from troubleshooting to resolution, and should have experience navigating the web and mobile apps.

You should have excellent written and verbal communication skills and should be able to communicate with customers in an empathetic and professional manner.

Benefits include medical benefits, paid holiday and vacation time, a flexible work environment and business training. There is no pay listed for this position, but we’ve reached out to the company and will update this post when we hear back.

When you apply, you’ll need to submit a 300-word statement about why you’re right for the job. You can check out more details about how to apply on the original job listing here.

2. Customer Support Representative at Starry, Inc.

Starry, Inc. is a broadband internet provider currently serving the Boston, Massachusetts, area.

The company is currently looking for a full-time, overnight customer support representative to work from home.

You’ll respond to customer emails, phone calls and live chats to help customers navigate internet and product setup, features and settings. You’ll identify and resolve network and device issues, escalate technical issues to the proper team members and record and track customer concerns and feedback.

You should have at least one year of customer service, help desk or technical troubleshooting experience, excellent written and verbal communication skills and strong organizational and analytical abilities. Bonus points if you’re familiar with Zendesk and have a passion for technology.

Pay and benefits for this position are not listed, but we’ve reached out to the company and will update this pot when we hear back.

This is an overnight support role, so you should be available to work between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. EST. You must be based in either New York or Massachusetts.

To apply for this job, go here.

3. Customer Service Benefits Administration at Intelenet

Intelenet is a global business process outsourcing platform.

The company is currently looking for a part-time customer service benefits administrator to provide support to candidates, retirees, employees and HR contacts regarding benefits.

You’ll field incoming calls and emails, identify and resolve problems, improve service delivery and educate callers about various benefit plans.

You should have strong verbal and written communication skills, the ability to learn information quickly, the ability to remain cool in high-pressure situations and strong problem solving skills.

You should possess a bachelor’s degree and at least one year of relevant work experience or a high school diploma (or GED equivalent) and two years of relevant work experience. Previous experience in a call center or dealing with benefits and HR is a plus.

Pay is $14 to $15 per hour depending on experience. Comprehensive benefits including company-paid life insurance and disability insurance kick in after 60 days, and paid time off kicks in after 90 days.

To apply for this job, go here.

4. Real-Time Captioner at Oak Grove Technologies

Oak Grove Technologies provides learning and training solutions for law enforcement and government agencies, the Armed Forces and health care organizations.

The company is currently looking for a real-time captioner to create live closed captions for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Health Administration and the Employee Education System.

You’ll provide real-time closed captioning for web-based broadcasting and virtual conferences while maintaining an accuracy rate of at least 98%. You’ll research and confirm spellings, terminology and names and will consult with clients, users, engineers and administrators to identify and implement closed captioning needs across a variety of streaming platforms.

You should note that captioning a live broadcast means you will work under intense pressure for long periods of time and will often face high work volume and the inability to plan your workflow.

Because of this, you may not have a set schedule, but the listing notes that real-time captioning is needed almost daily on weekdays (except for federal holidays), and you can expect to work on up to five programs per day. Occasional weekend and evening work may be required.

You should be familiar with technical standards in streaming media, including web conferencing systems and closed captioning delivery services. You should have prior editing or proofreading experience and a knowledge of internet security standards and different file formats as they relate to closed captioning services. You should have a typing speed of 225 WPM.

There is no pay listed for this position, but the benefits include 75% company-paid medical and dental, 100% paid vision, life and disability and a 401(k) plan with a company match.

To apply for this job, go here.

5. Simulator Customer Support Engineer at PhishMe

PhishMe offers anti-phishing solutions for companies so that employees can help fight security breaches as they happen.

The company is currently looking for a customer support engineer to interact with PhishMe customers, answer questions and resolve queries regarding PhishMe Simulator products, and engage the internal development staff as needed.

You’ll answer customer calls and emails in a timely manner, resolve incidents and issues singularly and through collaboration with the various PhishMe teams, and develop and implement internal processes and documentation practices including FAQs and “canned responses.”

You should have at least two years of experience in a customer-facing support role, a basic understanding of phishing and the threats it presents, basic technical troubleshooting abilities and a basic knowledge of HTML. You should also have excellent written and verbal communication skills and strong multitasking skills.

You should be available to work from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST and should be located on the west coast of the U.S.

Pay is not listed for this position, but benefits include a 401(k) plan with company match and health, dental, vision, disability and life insurance.

To apply for this job, go here.

6. Customer Support at Romanoff Renovations

Romanoff Renovations provides in-home installation for Home Depot and offers various installation and renovation services.

The company is currently looking for a part-time customer support representative to field incoming customer calls.

You’ll coordinate installation scheduling, inform customers of changes made to their orders or installation schedules, and handle questions, issues and queries from customers as they arise.

You should have excellent verbal and written communication skills, strong computer skills and the ability to handle customer complaints and questions in a professional manner.  

You must be at least 18 years old, located on the west coast of the U.S. and have a dedicated home office space. Prior customer service experience is preferred, as is weekend availability. Previous retail experience at Home Depot is a big plus!

Pay is listed between $13 and $15 per hour and benefits include medical, vision and dental insurance, a 401(k) with company match, paid holidays, personal time off and the ability to earn PTO by doing community service.

To apply for this job, go here.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Quick! You’ve just stepped into line at the coffee shop behind someone you recognize to be the CEO of the company you spend your days dreaming of working for.

She asks you what you do, and how you do it -- and you realize that this is your chance. The line is moving surprisingly fast for a Monday morning and you now have about 45 seconds to give her a succinct but impressive spiel about what you do, how you do it and how you might even be able to do it for her.

What do you say?

Unfortunately, because you don’t have anything prepared, you verbal-vomit all over her shoes. A barista calls out her order, so she grabs the latte, shoots you a weird look and ducks out the door -- leaving you sputtering and frustrated because that was not the impression you wanted to make.

You know what would have saved you in that moment? Having an elevator pitch.

Whether it’s during a chance encounter at the coffee shop, a formal business meeting or a literal elevator ride, delivering a perfectly crafted elevator pitch serves to set you apart from the competition, both when you’re hoping to land a job and when you’re trying to snag a client.

If you don’t have one prepared, you run the risk of missing out on an awesome opportunity to build your network and promote yourself..

But from here on out, you’ll never have to fear that awkward coffee line situation again, because it’s time to learn how to create your very own elevator pitch.

Rules for Crafting a Strong Elevator Pitch

When crafting your perfect elevator pitch, there are a few rules you should keep in mind.

Keep It Between 30 and 60 seconds

[caption id="attachment_63765" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Keep your elevator pitch 30 to 60 seconds. Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Any shorter and you won’t convey enough information. Any longer and you run the risk of bogging down your audience, losing their attention or getting interrupted. Aim for a written paragraph of about 150 to 250 words and an unrushed speaking time between 30 and 60 seconds.

Make It Easy to Understand

Choose clear, concise language and keep it jargon-free. You don’t want your listener to get lost in heavy wording, and a lot of people find industry jargon grating (even if it’s their own industry).

Make an Impression

While your pitch should be simple and free of fancy language, it should also be powerful and illustrative. You’re trying to hook your audience in without alienating them, so make sure your passion for your work shines through.

Keep It Listener-Focused

There’s a delicate balance here: While you do want to highlight your skills and abilities, you also want your listener to be aware of how this information could be useful for them. Don’t just say “I write marketing copy.” Say something like, “I write marketing copy to promote products and services similar to the ones you offer.”

How to Write an Elevator Pitch That Works

Now that you know the basics, follow these steps to construct an elevator pitch that stands out and delivers the right information the right way.

Keep in mind that you won’t get it perfect the first time -- in fact, you should write a couple of versions, pull out your red pen, mercilessly slash, revise, condense, rewrite and then revise again.

1. Know Your Audience and Determine Your Goal

[caption id="attachment_63766" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Know your audience in your elevator pitch. Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Before you start, decide who your audience is and determine what you want them to take away from your conversation.

Are you speaking to a potential client who needs to know what you can do for them? Or will you be networking with a potential employer who needs to know if you’d be a good fit at their company?

Decide on your audience and purpose, and then keep this in mind as you write your pitch. You might even write a few different versions so that you can whip out the right one at the right time -- just think about your audience as you follow these steps.

2. State Who You Are and What You Do

Start with a sentence about who you are, what you do and where you currently do it. This doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top fancy -- just state the facts. You’ll build from here.

3. Explain What You Do Best

In two or three sentences, explain what you do in more detail -- and how you do it better than anyone else. What makes you unique in your field? What can you do for this person that no one else can do? Which top achievements are you most proud of?

Brag on yourself a little, but be sure to stick to the achievements that will service your listener -- don’t brag just to brag.

4. Tell Them What You Hope to Gain

[caption id="attachment_63767" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Tell them what you hope to gain in your elevator speech. Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Here’s where your elevator pitch really needs to be specifically tailored and targeted. At the end of the 60 seconds, your listener should know exactly what it is you hope to gain from this conversation. Are you looking for a new job opportunity? Are you looking to gain clients? Are you looking to expand your network?

While you don’t want to be so direct that you make the listener uncomfortable by begging, “Please, please give me a job,” you also don’t want them to walk away from the conversation wondering, “What was that all about?” Dancing around the point will only leave your listener frustrated, so be direct.

5. Include a “Next Steps” Line

End your pitch with an action plan. Let them know what you want to happen next.  Whether you want to schedule a meeting over coffee, want to send a resume over or simply want to exchange business cards and keep in touch, be sure to make your intentions clear and let them know what they can expect from you.

6. Turn It Around

If you have the time during your brief encounter, be sure to ask them about what they do, too, to make the conversation feel more like a two-way street and less like a stuffy sales pitch. Plus, hearing their statement may help you further identify any potential needs you can fill.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

[caption id="attachment_63770" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch. Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Once you have a draft you’re satisfied with, stand in front of a mirror (or a friend!) and practice saying it out loud. You want it to sound natural, not like you just spent six hours rehearsing in your bathroom (even though you did).

A confident and friendly voice will signal to your listener that you’re open to continuing the conversation.

Also, remember that your body language often says more in seconds than words can say in hours. Make sure your body language is on par with the version of yourself you’re trying to present -- eye contact and a firm handshake are key!

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency.

That may mean big changes in health care and treatment options for people who are dealing with an opioid addiction.

Here’s what we know so far about what these changes might look like.

The Opioid Crisis Is Now a National Emergency

This is a fairly unprecedented move, as emergency rulings are usually reserved for acute outbreaks or natural disasters. But the declaration comes at the recommendation of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis which President Trump established back in March.

The commission members spoke with all 50 state governors, non-profit advocacy groups, parents whose children are struggling with an opioid addiction and treatment providers across the nation.

Last week, the commission drafted an interim report with its preliminary findings and recommendations. In the report, the commission acknowledges the severity of the opioid crisis, calling it “unparalleled.”

The report states that, according to recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control, 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose.

It also notes that between 1999 and 2015, more than 560,000 people have died due to drug overdoses in this country and that as of 2015, 27 million people self-reported current use of illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs.

The commission also acknowledges an over-saturated but underserved percentage of the population affected by the opioid crisis. More than 40% of people who have a substance use disorder also have a mental health problem -- and less than half of these people receive treatment for either issue.

The commission proposed several action steps that can be taken to lessen the severity of the opioid crisis, the first of which was a call for an executive decision to declare the issue a national emergency.

On Thursday, President Trump took the commission’s recommendation and declared the opioid crisis a national emergency.

What Will This Declaration Mean?

Because the opioid crisis is now a national emergency, the suggestions will be treated with a sense of urgency and states will be able to bypass much of the red tape that was previously stagnating any progress in curbing the opioid epidemic.

The recommendations will hopefully both help people who are currently struggling with an opioid addiction receive treatment and prevent future generations from misusing opioids at all.

These suggestions will springboard off of the decision to declare a national emergency:

  • Remove the barrier to treatment that comes from Medicaid’s exclusion of federal Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD). While official legislation won’t be in effect yet, individual states will now be able to petition for waiver approvals to allow Medicaid to fund treatment in inpatient programs that treat “mental diseases” (including substance use disorders) and those that provide withdrawal management.
  • Mandate education for the doctors who prescribe opioids for treating pain. The opioid epidemic, the report notes, “began in our nation’s health care system.”
  • Federally fund access to Medication-Assisted Treatment at all licensed facilities and ensure further testing and development of new treatment options.
  • Equip law enforcement officers with naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, and put “immunity” laws in place that will ensure people aren’t afraid to call for help in case of a drug-related emergency.
  • Slow down and stop the spread of fentanyl and fentanyl-type drugs (which are, the report claims, more dangerous than most of the opioids out there today, including heroin). The commission proposed an increase in manpower and funding that will allow various government agencies including the FBI, the DEA and the Department of Homeland Security to develop methods for slowing the distribution of these synthetic opioids.
  • Facilitate the sharing of data regarding prior overdoses and prescription history between state and federal programs to prevent the over-prescription of opioids in the future.
  • Rework patient privacy laws to make information about histories of substance abuse more easily available to medical professionals.
  • Ensure a standardized treatment experience that does not discriminate between those being treated for mental health and substance abuse disorders and those being treated for physical diagnoses. While there are already laws in effect to prevent this disparity, they are not widely enforced, and, as a result, too many people go without proper help.

Along with these initial proposals, the commission has promised to carry out a full review of federal laws, programs, regulations and funding that focus on addiction and substance abuse. The commission notes that its work will be ongoing, and that it will have more to share later on in 2017.

As these changes begin to take effect, we’ll be sure to update you on what that will mean for anyone dealing with an addiction or substance use disorder in terms of rights, health care and treatment options.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

On August 21, 2017, people across the U.S. will be able to witness a total solar eclipse.

Everyone on the 2,600-mile-long, 70-mile-wide path reaching from Oregon to South Carolina will be able to see the complete solar eclipse. Those of us located outside of that pathway will be able to view only a partial eclipse -- but that’s still cool!

As people gather to take in the once in a lifetime sight (or maybe twice -- the last one occurred 38 years ago), it’s important for everyone to remember that staring directly at a solar eclipse is not safe.

If you plan to look directly at it, you’ll need to wear a pair of approved glasses (not regular sunglasses!) -- but I’ll let the brains over at NASA explain solar eclipse safety in more detail.

If you’d like to experience the solar eclipse -- without the hassle of ordering special glasses -- you can make your own solar eclipse pinhole projector with materials you probably already have lying around your home.

A pinhole projector is a special tool that allows you to view a shadow, or negative image, of the eclipse without having to look directly at it. This is an especially handy tool if you have children who want to get in on the fun but may not be able to follow the “don’t stare directly at the sun” rules.

Make Your Own Pinhole Projector for the Solar Eclipse

[caption id="attachment_63648" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]On the inside of one end of the box, tape a sheet of white paper. This will be your “viewing screen. On the inside of one end of the box, tape a sheet of white paper. This will be your “viewing screen. Michael House/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Making your own solar eclipse viewer is simple -- which is great because I make it a point to never do a DIY that takes longer to make than the actual event I’m making it for.

(At its longest, the total eclipse will last about 2 minutes and 40 seconds for anyone viewing from the center of the event’s path.)

Here’s how to make your own eclipse viewer.

Materials

1 long or 2 regularly shaped cardboard boxes

Scissors

Duct tape

Knife (for cutting through cardboard)

Aluminum foil

Thumbtack or pin

Sheet of white paper

Build Your DIY Solar Eclipse Viewer

  1. If you can’t find a long rectangular box, create one out of two smaller boxes. Simply cut the flaps off of one end of each box and use duct tape to connect at the raw edges, forming one long box. (A longer box means a larger projected image.)
  2. In the middle of the bottom of your box, cut a head-shaped hole.
  3. Seal the flaps on one end of your box with duct tape. On the inside of this end of the box, tape the sheet of white paper. This will be your “viewing screen.”
  4. Seal the flaps on the other end of the box. On this end, cut a small rectangle (about 2 inches x 4 inches) a few inches from the top of the box.
  5. Cut a piece of aluminum foil slightly larger than the rectangle you cut on the box. Make sure the foil stays flat and un-crinkled.
  6. Tape the piece of foil over the rectangular hole.
  7. Using a pin or tack, poke a small hole in the center of the foil. Be careful not to rip the foil or make the hole too large.

[caption id="attachment_63651" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Using a pin or tack, poke a small hole in the center of the foil. Be careful not to rip the foil or make the hole too large Using a pin or tack, poke a small hole in the center of the foil. Be careful not to rip the foil or make the hole too large. Michael House/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

To view the eclipse, stand outside with the sun directly behind you. Put the eclipse viewer over your head with the pinhole end behind you and the paper end in front of you. Line up the pinhole with the sun until you see the inverted image of the eclipse on the “screen” in front of you.

Once you have your pinhole projector ready, check out the incredibly handy video featured here to find out when the best time to view the solar eclipse where you live will be!

Important note: Looking directly at a solar eclipse -- even a partial one -- can do lasting damage to your eyesight. Do not attempt to observe the eclipse without proper protective eyewear (meaning special eclipse glasses, not ordinary sunglasses) or a cool tool like this pinhole projector. Always use your pinhole projector correctly, with your back to the sun.

The FTC warns that if you plan to use special eclipse glasses to look directly at the eclipse as it happens, you should make sure the glasses are certified to meet the official international safety standards.

Only wear eclipse viewing glasses that have been approved for use and that are new and without scratches, wrinkles or defects. Here are guidelines about what features you should look for in a pair of eclipse viewing glasses.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

I’ve got a really awesome job opportunity for you today. (I’m talking really awesome -- us word-nerds in HQ are sort of geeking out)

But first, I need you to answer a few questions.

Are you ready? Great.

First things first: Would you consider yourself a fellow word nerd?

If so: Are you about as proficient in crafting 140-character tweets as you are in the English language?

Alright, last one: Do you dream of days spent scrolling Twitter feeds from the comfort of your couch?

If you answered yes to any (or all!) of these questions, then we might have just stumbled across your dream job: right now, Dictionary.com is looking for a part-time, freelance social media editor to work -- and tweet -- from home.

Become the Tweet Master for Dictionary.com

Dictionary.com wants to make their mark as an “influential, thought provoking brand,” and they need your help to do it.

The company needs a social media editor to connect with emerging culture and trends while creatively showcasing them on Twitter in a way that’s fun and engaging.

In this role, you’ll be tasked with using social media to drive traffic and brand awareness, seeking out and identifying opportunities for Dictionary.com to join the social conversation, maintaining Dictionary.com’s Twitter postings and developing engaging social media content.

You should be able to earn trust internally and externally with other brands and various audiences and should be able to formulate a clear point of view when discussing complicated issues.

Bonus points if you’re a serious “news junky” who loves to be in the know -- and right in the middle of the conversation.

You should have at least three years of experience with social media, PR and/or marketing strategies, a strong understanding of Millennial and Gen Z culture norms, a “healthy obsession” with news and culture and an innate curiosity about language and its relation to the human experience.

You should have excellent written and verbal communication skills, experience publishing to Twitter and a demonstrated track record driving social and audience engagement. Having solid relationships “with press and influencers” is a plus.

You should be available to work about 20 hours per week. This is a remote opportunity, but candidates should be located within the U.S. The job pays between $15 and $17 per hour, depending on experience.

To apply for this job, go here.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s brand spankin’ new to Twitter, so stop by and show her some love @schweizer_grace.

Last week, NASA announced that it’s looking for a Planetary Protection Officer to keep alien germs in outer space and to keep human germs inside our atmosphere.

The actual job listing was a little more detailed and included a few more responsibilities, but that was the general gist.

Articles about the bizarre (but totally legitimate) listing made their rounds on the internet, and a lot of people laughed and questioned the sincerity of the job itself. (I mean, it does sound like something straight out of a comic book, doesn’t it?)

But, amidst all the jokes and Will Smith references, there was one person who took the job opportunity very, very seriously.

[caption id="attachment_63313" align="alignnone" width="1200"] NASA[/caption]

Guardian of the Galaxy, Reporting for Duty

Jack Davis, a 9-year-old from New Jersey, wrote and submitted what might be the best cover letter in existence.

“Dear NASA, My name is Jack Davis, and I would like to apply for the planetary protection officer job,” the handwritten letter begins. “I may be nine but I think I would be fit for the job.”

Are you convinced yet? I’m pretty sold. Somebody get this guy a space suit.

Jack goes on to list his qualifications, as any seasoned job-hunter would do. Among his convincing accomplishments?

“My sister says I am an alien,” and “I have seen almost all of the space and alien movies I can see,” including Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he notes. He hopes to see “Men in Black” someday, too.

I’d definitely at least let Jack through to the second round. Dude makes a convincing argument.

Knowing that a good cover letter requires a little wow-factor right at the end, Jack holds nothing back. “I’m great at vidieo [sic] games,” he writes, before throwing in one final (and arguably the most important) qualification: “I am young, so I can learn to think like an alien.”

Eager to learn, moldable and up to snuff with new technology -- a prime candidate.

Jack signed the letter with his full name and official (I’m assuming) title:

“Jack Davis, Guardian of the Galaxy.”

Not Every Applicant Gets a Personalized Response

In response to the earnest and impressive application, NASA’s Planetary Science Director Dr. James L. Green wrote a letter of his own.

“Dear Jack, I hear you’re a ‘Guardian of the Galaxy’ and that you’re interested in being a NASA Planetary Protection Officer. That’s great!” Green begins.

He goes on to explain a little more about what the job entails, and then tells Jack that NASA is “always looking for bright future scientists and engineers” and that he hopes Jack will study hard and do well in school. “We hope to see you here at NASA one of these days!” the letter concludes.

Jack also received a call from NASA’s Planetary Research Director, Jonathan Rall, congratulating him on his interest in becoming the Planetary Protection Officer.

In an article posted on NASA’s website about the exchange, Green talks about his enthusiasm for teaching and inspiring a new generation of scientists, engineers and explorers: "Think of it as a gravity assist -- a boost that may positively and forever change a person's course in life, and our footprint in the universe."

Wherever he ends up, we know Jack will do just fine -- with cover letter writing skills like these, he’ll have every opportunity ahead of him.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.