Creative Ways to Fund Your College Education: Finding a Flexible Job

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The job hunt can be a tedious task.  College students are in the particularly complicated position of needing jobs that accommodate class schedules. Flexible jobs absolutely do exist, but sometimes it takes a little bit of creative hunting to find something that will work for your particular circumstance!

Don’t be discouraged if you cannot find the perfect fit immediately.  It is called a job “hunt” for a reason!  Keep in mind that your natural strengths and interests may be a good place to start.  If you’re really good at math, look around for tutoring opportunities!  (Tutoring is actually one of the ideas below.) Here are a few ideas that might help spark your imagination:

  • Tutoring: Local schools and academies are a great place to find tutoring jobs, and word spreads quickly – if you’re a good tutor, parents will want you to help their kids!  Your specific expertise in subjects such as English or math is a huge bonus!

  • Freelance writing: Businesses often try to boost their online presence by expanding their website, maintaining a blog, submitting articles and ads to online (or print) periodicals and publications, etc. https://www.upwork.com/
  • Online marketing: This could mean anything from social media management to website maintenance.  Photography and writing skills would be a plus.  If you’re a natural social media addict, could be right up your alley! www.flexjobs.com
  • Translator/Interpreter: Are you fluent in a language other than English?  What about English sign language?  Check with your local City Hall!  They may have translation needs that are not advertised but needed on a semi-regular basis.  This could definitely be a valid way to boost your income in off hours.
  • Fitness instructor: This will require certification if you hope to do this in a professional capacity, but if you have a passion for fitness, chances are that you may wish to earn that certification anyway.
  • Seamstress/Tailor: This might sound old fashioned, but you would be surprised how many people will pay to have their clothes re-sized/fitted, curtains made, or a lining mended.  Your college or local schools may have a drama department – if so, knowing how to operate a sewing machine is a valuable skill!

You might feel like you don’t have any particular skills… don’t underestimate yourself!  Are you organized?  Creative?  Patient? Athletic?  Personality and character qualities play a role in the job hut also!  Consider some of these ideas:

  • Virtual Assistant: Yes, it’s a thing!  This could include anything from managing emails to transcribing records or data entry.  https://www.upwork.com/  Depending on the employer, previous experience could be a plus, but not always required.
  • Babysit/Nanny: This won’t earn points for creativity – but it does pay well!  In case you’re confused about the difference: nannying is a more consistent (and often more demanding) version of babysitting.  A nanny will typically spend regular hours taking care of their charge multiple times a week, and could include chauffeur, meal-time, and bed-time duties.  Be prepared to submit a resume or letters of recommendation.  Your reputation precedes you, and parents have every right to be choosy about who is in contact with their children!
  • Grocery Delivery: This is an increasingly popular business that is taking off in many areas of the country – particularly in larger cities.  Some grocery stores have their own grocery delivery service, but there are also third-party businesses like Shipt, which are a great option for people who need a flexible work schedule. www.shipt.com
  • Usher at Sporting Events: These can be great side jobs – and you get to take in the game while you work (as long as you focus on your job responsibilities!).  Check out what sporting events take place in your city – this could be your ticket!
  • Valet Parker: Many hotels and upscale restaurants offer this service – it’s a fun opportunity to drive fancy cars and get paid for doing it!
  • Barista: Prior experience is always a perk (pun absolutely intended) in these positions, but many college students find this job to be a perfect fit since coffee houses tend to stay open into the late evenings.  Chain coffee houses get all the publicity, but don’t overlook the local shops – you just might find a diamond in the rough!
  • Catering/Serving Staff: Sometimes caterers need extra help serving plates or re-fill chafing dishes at large events.  Get in touch with local small businesses that cater for weddings and other social gatherings and find out when their busy season is – that is when they will need the most help.
  • Restaurant Server/Host: Obviously, being a people person would definitely be a bonus for this kind of job!
  • Senior Care: The requirements can vary greatly with this kind of employment, but could include grocery shopping for or with the individual, driving them around, light cleaning, keeping up conversation, helping with their pets, etc.
  • Dog Sitting/Dog Walking: You thought this was just a NYC thing?  Surprise!
  • Lawn Care/General Home Maintenance: Are you willing to take on odd jobs like painting, cleaning gutters, mowing, or doing small repairs?  Don’t underestimate the value of developing “handy-man” skills!  Many people don’t have the time, knowledge or stamina to do some of these jobs and they’re happy to contract someone to do it for them! You may even be able to find employment on the campus maintenance staff.

Scanning through job listings is always a good place to start, but with a little extra effort you can get a head start on finding employment.   Strategically-placed posters on your college campus, nearby academy campuses, and even community bulletin boards will help get your name out to the general public.  You may not get a lot of response through them, but you never know!   Advertising on your social media is another great idea, since your friends and acquaintances can help spread the word.  And never underestimate the value of word-of-mouth.  If you do a good job for one person, there’s a good chance they will recommend you to others!

Whatever you do, keep your chin up!  Determination, dependability, and willingness to learn will go a long way.  Be willing to try new things… even boring things.  The end goal here is to fund your education.  Dream jobs are a fantastic goal – don’t let go of that!  Just remember that dream jobs typically come after you’ve worked hard to get there.  You have to start somewhere!   Here’s to a successful employment search!

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