One great way to get some money in your pocket for college expenses is to work over the summer. Whether you’re hoping to get outside, gain some experience in your future career or simply trying to earn as much money as possible, the time to start thinking about your summer job is now: after Spring Break but before finals.
Why? Because the employers are starting to think about it as they ramp up for summer hiring, but your competition for the jobs may still have their minds on the beach or their noses in their books. I’m not suggesting you eschew fun or avoid studying: just take some time to look around at what’s out there, and fill out some applications.
Online applications are convenient and handy — also required by many employers these days — but if the employer is local, it can’t hurt to pop in and introduce yourself to the hiring manager and let him or her know that you’ve filled out an application. This not only shows them that you have initiative, but it also allows them to put a face to the application when they come across it. You’ll no longer be just another anonymous applicant. This can be an advantage.
Another suggestion, especially for those looking to maximize earning potential, and possibly have a job you can carry on into the school year, is to target jobs that offer tips. Many such jobs tend to pay an hourly rate that hovers around minimum wage, but once you factor in a few tables or doors or drinks worth of tips, you’re looking at a living wage job: not bad for a college student.
Table service in a restaurant can pay amazingly well. Tips, of course, are dependent upon a number of factors including your charm and ability to hustle quickly from table table. On the other hand, some factors that affect tips are out of your control. The number of servers on staff during a shift, the number of customers that come in at the time you work on the days you work, and the overall popularity of the restaurant. You will often have to work your way into better shifts, but the better-paying times (evenings and weekends, typically) have the added benefit of not interfering with a standard full time class schedule — but may be a little less appealing during summer break.
It’s important to do a little research before you apply for and accept a serving job. Make sure that the restaurant has a decent amount of business. If not, there are much more rewarding things that you can do for minimum wage (or less!). Ask what shifts the place is hiring for. You’d hate to end up in a position where your making excuses to your new boss or a professor for absences due to work/school conflicts. Obviously, this is true for any job you apply for, but restaurant jobs, in particular, tend to have schedules that move around a bit. A server at a popular restaurant can easily expect to earn $15-$20 per hour, including tips, during a shift. Moreover, for those who are people persons, the work is actually pretty fun and the shifts tend to fly by pretty quickly.
Older students (those over 21 — and psychology majors, perhaps) may find bartending to be both fun and lucrative. A popular bartender in a busy bar can make enough money to wonder why he’s attending college in the first place. That is, of course, until he takes a look at his cranky 60-year old co-worker who’s lived his whole adult life behind a bar wearing gin-soaked sleeves. It’s a good way to pay for some college expenses and have a little extra left over, though.
For students who have cars, delivery driving is a great way to make an hourly wage, possibly earn tips — and get your gas paid for. Most places that hire delivery drivers reimburse mileage at a federally mandated rate. At a rate of more than 50 cents per mile, the amount you are reimbursed will pay for a gallon of gas every six or seven miles you drive. If you keep your car in good shape and you segregate your fuel reimbursement from your earnings (which you should do for tax purposes, anyway), you will find that most of your routine car-related expenses, including gas, can be covered out of your mileage reimbursement.
As a delivery driver for a courier company, which take packages from business to business, you can easily earn an hourly rate of more than $10 plus a mileage reimbursement. Food delivery drivers can expect to make a base hourly rate near minimum wage, the mileage reimbursement and, in most cases, tips, which can raise your hourly gross by several dollars if you work for a busy or popular restaurant.