These Side Gigs Can Help You Make Money While You Work an Unpaid Internship
I had my fair share of internships back in the day (er, like, two years ago).
One was unpaid. Another was paid — but only after I worked 12 hours a week.
The final one paid minimum wage. That’s when I felt like I’d made it.
Each of these internships offered invaluable experiences, and I wouldn’t trade them — or the people I met and places I explored — for anything.
But it was darn difficult (impossible, actually) to make ends meet.
I know my experience isn’t unique.
So I’ve come up with a few creative summer jobs for college students struggling to get by as unpaid (or low-paid) interns.
Because hindsight is 20/20, right?
Do note these won’t supplement a normal, stable income, but they can help.
1. Drive With Uber
You might start by finding a part-time job, but that can get tricky when you’re a full-time intern. There’s no telling how long you’ll be stuck in the office.
Plus, you get to set your own hours.
Another perk? It’s a great way to meet people if you’re in a new city (and a lot less awkward than sitting at a bar by yourself… not that I’d know anything about that…).
Want to give Uber a shot? You can sign up here.
2. Not So Into People? Deliver Food Instead
If you’re not so keen on, well, people, then consider signing up to deliver food with Uber Eats.
It’s recruiting drivers across the country. You’ll pick up food and drop it off to hungry patrons.
Just be sure to air out your car every now and then.
Eat up all the details about the delivery service here.
3. Earn Money Back Each Time You Go Out
You’re in college. You’re young. You probably enjoy an adult refreshment every now and then. I know that wasn’t just me…
If you’re meeting friends for happy hour — or even grabbing an after-work brew with your co-workers — be sure to take advantage of rebate apps like Ibotta.
For example, right now, when you scan your bar tab on Ibotta, you can earn $3 back on any appetizer. Anywhere.
If you want to forget the food, you can get $3 back on a pitcher or bucket of Bud Light. Again, anywhere.
Or order a New Belgium — any variety, anywhere — and score $1 back.
You can also pair Ibotta with other rebate apps like Swagbucks Local. This app rewards you in points for eating or drinking at certain restaurants, cafes or bars. Those points, in turn, can be exchanged for an Amazon gift card.
It’ll all add up quickly and will make you feel a little less guilty for having somewhat of a social life.
4. Scan Your Receipt After Each Grocery Store Run
Your best bet is to eat in most of the time — and pack your lunch for that internship.
But, even so, groceries add up fast.
Ibotta does more than score you cash back for alcohol (as mentioned above). It also helps you score big rebates on your groceries.
For example, this woman has earned nearly $230 back since she started using the app in 2013.
Plus, you can pair these rebates with coupons to see even more savings.
Oh, and you can snag a $10 bonus when you sign up through this link.
5. Sell Your Stray Belongings
I had to pack up and move for one of my internships. I was determined not to rent a truck, so I packed only the essentials in my small SUV.
The rest? I could have sold it, honestly. That’s what you should consider, too.
For clothes, try an online platform or app like Letgo. You can market your belongings to people in your area, so it’ll be easy to purge — with no shipping costs
For books, find the best going rate on BookScouter. Type in the book’s ISBN, and the site will tell you where you can get the best resale price.
For electronics, try Decluttr. You can sell the company your CDs, DVDs, games, phones, tablets, consoles… you name it. Shipping is free, and you’ll get cash directly deposited into your bank account.
6. Find a Work-From-Home Gig
There are so many ways to make money online these days, and many of these opportunities offer flexible schedules. That’s exactly what you need when you’re a busy intern.
NexRep offers a ton of flexible, work-from-home customer service gigs. Many of these opportunities are for weekend warriors or night owls, which is great if you have a 9-to-5 internship.
Click here to see if you qualify and want to search through opportunities with companies — including big names like GrubHub and Priceline.
Bonus: Here are 13 other online opportunities you can look into.
7. Try Mystery Shopping or Survey Sites
Mystery shopping isn’t going to add stacks of money to your bank account, but it’ll get you out and about — plus it offers pretty flexible hours.
If you want to give it a go, try QuickThoughts. This survey app tracks where you are and sends you on “secret missions.”
It’ll ask you to answer questions about places you’ve been recently: Was the bathroom in CVS clean? How was that McDonald’s location you stopped at for lunch?
If you want to learn more about QuickThoughts and all its paid opportunities, check it out here.
8. Do 10-Minute Car Inspections
Not too long ago, loyal Penny Hoarder Maryellen Honkomp contacted us about one of her favorite side gigs: performing car inspections through OnSource.
She says she can make up to $40 in less than 20 minutes. And no, you don’t need to have any prior knowledge about cars. You just need a phone that’ll take photos
Learn more about Honkomp’s experience with OnSource and see if the gig is available in your area.
9. Set Up a Passive Income Stream
I always thought passive income was a somewhat intimidating term — like, oh, I need a ton of money for whatever that is.
But that’s not true.
Passive income can be a great way to make money without giving up your time. Sure, you’ll put in some upfront time and effort — maybe even a little money — but, if you do it right, it’ll pay off in the long run.
Some perfect ones for busy interns? Selling photos, creating greeting cards, designing T-shirts, posting YouTube videos or earning cash back on credit cards.
10. Sell Your Gift Cards
Did Grandma get you another Starbucks gift card for your birthday this year?
Sure, it was very thoughtful, but $10 doesn’t go far at that coffee chain. Plus, you’d probably rather put that money toward, say, a giant bag of coffee that’ll last you a few weeks.
11. Watch Your Neighbors’ Kids or Pets
Petsitting helped me get through my first unpaid internship.
I’d stop by my professor’s house on the way to my internship and let her dogs out. I’d hang out with them for 30 minutes, catch up on some class reading, give them hugs and head out.
It was an easy — if not enjoyable — way to pocket an extra $36 a week.
Or, if you’re more interested in babysitting, ask around — or consider making a Care.com account.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’d love to hear some other creative ways unpaid interns are making money on the side!