Monday, August 4, 2008

Finding Sources of Extra Cash

by Tori Phelps

Score! You’ve got a date Friday night with that cutie from algebra. The problem? You have a serious cash flow problem. Somehow, splitting a cheeseburger at the Golden Arches just doesn’t add up to the romantic evening you were hoping for. Or maybe you’re dying for those darling sandals in the store window, but the only thing in your pocket is lint.

If Mom and Dad are tapped out, there’s still hope for you, poor college student. What to do? Find little ways to bring in extra cash. It’s easier than you think, and a side benefit is that you may build your post-college resume and uncover valuable references.

On Campus. If you’re looking for a steady job, your first stop is your college’s employment center. Its main job is to help recent graduates nail down employment, but the people there also usually know where there’s an opening on campus. If your college doesn’t have an employment center, just ask about jobs wherever you go. Studying in the library? Ask if they need someone to cover the Help Desk at night. Eating in the Commons? Ask if they need prep or dishwashing help. Another good source is your academic advisor. He or she may know where there are holes to be plugged on campus.

Off Campus. If you have a car, you’re golden. You can work at the mall downtown or the coffee shop uptown. While you’ll likely take any old job just to get some green growing in your wallet again, apply to the places you think you’ll enjoy first. You know that nearby music store you’re in every week? They may need someone to cover the register on the weekend. And if you’re a familiar face in there, the owners may feel more comfortable hiring you.

Babysitting. There are dozens of professors on campus—and even some non-traditional students—who need babysitters. A parent’s Holy Grail is tracking down good quality childcare, so why not make it easier for them? If you like kids (yes, that’s a requirement), don’t be afraid to let your professors know that you’re available if they ever need a babysitter. And this isn’t just a job for college women. Playing video games with a seven-year-old for $8 an hour? Now that’s a sweet deal.

Lawn Mowing, Leaf Raking, Gutter Cleaning. Most faculty and administration have enough to do without spending their free time ending to outdoor chores. This is where you come in. Even if you’re not on campus during the summer, most homeowners start mowing in April and don’t stop until Thanksgiving (even later in the southern states). Leaf raking has a shorter season, but many people hate that job so much, they’re willing to pay big bucks for someone else to do it. You can make a small fortune in a month. If you’re willing to tackle these jobs, you need to advertise. Tack a note to a community bulletin board or see if the mailroom will put a flyer detailing your services into the faculty mailboxes.

Tutoring. If you rock at math (or Spanish or biology or…you get the idea), you could have a serious source of income on your hands. For every student like you who breezes through a subject, there are dozens more who just don’t have a clue. If you think you can teach what you know, you may be a good candidate for tutoring. Your first step is to talk to the professors who teach these subjects and let them know that you’re available if any of their students need help. Warning: Make sure they understand that you charge for your tutoring to avoid any misunderstandings later.

Your Hobby. Everyone has a hobby, and some of them could make a nice sideline. Whatever you’re into—jewelry making, painting, photography—make sure people know about it. If making jewelry is what keeps you sane during finals, your best bet is to wear your creations all the time. When people comment on your jewelry, thank them and then inform them that you sell your pieces. If you’re an amazing painter, create a fabulous mural on your dorm wall (if it’s allowed), and you’re sure to start some conversations. When that happens, let people know that you’re available for hire.

And if photography is your thing, investigate whether the school will let you publicly display your work. You never know when someone will need wedding photography (or baby photos, etc.) on the cheap and think, “Oh yeah, I know a student who takes great pictures.”

Good luck!

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