It’s the most wonderful time of the year: cozy nights by the fire, cheery holiday movies, the smell of homemade cookies.
And empty bank accounts.
For a college student, what is intended to be a magical season becomes more of a stressful one; there are so many people to buy gifts for, not to mention the cost of traveling back and forth between home and school. Opportunities to earn extra money could be the difference between groceries for the week or another night of leftovers (aka whatever’s left in the pantry).
If you have a full-time class schedule, or are going to school and already working, there’s not a lot of time to squeeze in an additional hourly position. Unless you’re looking to apply for immediate openings, especially in retail — Godspeed, if that’s the case — employers don’t like to see an inflexible schedule.
This means that you might need to get creative if you want to snag some extra pay this season. As such, here are five side jobs that work around your schedule and require minimal training or experience.
1. Rideshare Driver
One side job whose prominence seems to be increasing by the minute is driving for a rideshare service. Whether it’s Uber or Lyft, enjoy the perks of being your own boss, making your own schedule and working as much (or as little) as you’d like.
To sign up, simply apply via the Uber or Lyft app. There’s a straightforward background check as well as a vehicle inspection, which can be completed in a few days. For the most part, as long as your car is new enough (2002 or younger) and you don’t have any big spots on your record, you’ll get approved.
As a driver, you get to set your own schedule, select which fares you take and get paid weekly. Drivers report earning an average of $14 to $18 per hour before expenses. And, there’s no contract or obligations, so if you only wanted to drive during the holiday season, you wouldn’t be penalized.
Pros: No manager to report to, choose your customers, create your own schedule, fair pay
Cons: Busy times ebb and flow, increased expenses for car upkeep
2. Food Delivery Driver
Another popular choice for side jobs is to become a food delivery driver. For food, there are many companies to choose from, including Grubhub, Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash; plus, if you want to get into the grocery business, there’s always Instacart.
Drivers get paid per order, based on an algorithm that calculates miles driven to get to the restaurant, pick up the food items and get to the delivery spot. DoorDash reported that their drivers average $17.50 per hour, although this figure included tips and did not include time spent waiting for orders.
The advantage of choosing delivery over rideshare driving is the necessity of a car. Some delivery companies allow their employees to get the job done via bike, scooter or even on foot.
Pros: Many employment options, don’t need a car
Cons: Lots of competition, no guaranteed base rate
3. Amazon Delivery Driver
Couriering for Amazon Another, another delivery driver position, is a great way to make extra cash quickly, especially during the holidays. Amazon Flex allows drivers to pick up shifts in “blocks” that establish a quota — that is, number of packages to deliver — and an estimated number of hours to complete it.
Unlike working at, say, Grubhub, Amazon Flex pays drivers by the hour. The going rate is $18 to $25 an hour depending on the day and time. You’ll always know exactly how much you’re going to make before you grab a block.
Once you have your shift, you have to hit the quota before your block is considered complete — regardless of how long it takes. So, if you finish a two-hour block in one hour, you’ll still get paid the same. In that same token, you get no overtime for exceeding the number of hours in your schedule.
Pros: Hourly rate, know your pay ahead of time, lots of business during the holidays
Cons: Must use your own vehicle, driver support is lacking
4. Freelance Work
Ever put your creative talent to good use? Have a professional skill you could be doing more with? Freelancing is a great way to bank on your unique abilities, especially if you’re searching for jobs with a flexible schedule.
In the digital day and age, you can do freelance work in just about any field, since online platforms have streamlined the process of displaying your work and establishing a customer base.
Sites like Upwork and Fiverr are two popular places to connect with clients. Fiverr encompasses work from almost any category you can think of, which includes genealogy, travel help and relationship advice. Freelancers post a brief explanation of the work they do and what they charge. On the other hand, Upwork is great for professionals by catering to more conventional freelancing fields like writing, web development and accounting. On this site, the client is the one who posts a job and allows the freelancers to reach out to them.
Pay will range from hourly to flat rate and varies depending on your skill level. The big draw is your ability to choose your own clients and schedule your own workweek.
Pros: Work in a field you are passionate about, set your own pay rate
Cons: Lots of competition, projects can span weeks and months
Finally, consider taking on a few odd jobs. TaskRabbit will pair you with people in your area who need various tasks completed. Start by signing up, in which you request your desired rate, and send a video application to TaskRabbit. After getting accepted, make your Tasker profile. Do you like handiwork, cleaning, putting things together or perhaps all of the above?
Once your profile is live, clients can select you from a pool of other Taskers and pay you your predetermined rate. Earn positive reviews to boost your profile to the top of the list, and adjust your rates as you gain more experience.
Tasking can be a great way to get out of the house, meet new people in your town and perform low-stakes jobs.
Pros: Set your own rate, perform low-stress tasks
Cons: TaskRabbit takes a hefty chunk for its service fee, clients must reach out to you