If you have a blog called “money on the mind,” you have to at least be honest enough with yourself to admit that you might be slightly obsessed with money. My obsession was never as strong as it was when I was an undergraduate student. Living on your own, you start to realize how much things cost. And that realization is not a pretty one. This article is for those students who kindly have asked me what side hustles they can do as a student.
As a student you will have some options available to you that non-students won’t have. This article will mainly focus on those kind of jobs.
University Work Universities tend to like hiring those who are already in their system. As a result, students get a preferential treatment when applying for certain jobs. These jobs can range from doing IT services to doing marketing and being on the promo-teams. Often you will have to work a certain number of hours per week, especially with IT, but some jobs are completely event-based. The promo-teams for example, have to help out during open days and special events, but don’t have any set projects besides that.
Another option is to work for the university as a student officer. As a student officer you are a mediator between students and the university itself. The job is paid, and looks sweet on a cv. Its major drawback is that most people find it too much work to combine with education. If you are really in need of money and at the same time incredibly stress-resistant and great with time management, you might want to look into this.
If you are looking for a more stable source of income whilst still in education, try working at the library. This can be done in various capacities. You could be IT, reception or first aid officer. IT and reception tend to be busier jobs, given that they have to run the systems properly. First aid officer, however, is quite different. They are there as an administrative mandate. When a certain number of people are present in a location, first aid officers and a certain level of security need to be present in case disaster strikes. The thing is, libraries, on average, are not that disaster prone. As a result, it pretty much means being paid, for sitting in a library. I have done this myself and was paid a pretty penny for my mere presence. I spend all my time studying whilst I was there. It was brilliant. The only drawback is that you might need training to obtain a first aid certificate, which costs time and money. But even then, most universities tend to sponsor these.
Residential Work If you think being paid for just being present is the best thing you have heard in a while, hold onto something, because there is more. If your university has a campus you might be in even bigger luck. You might be able to become part of the residential life team (RLT) and have your rent paid for.
A residential life team is a group of volunteers (there tends to be no wage except for your rent being paid for), that reside within the on-campus residences, taking care of its residents. Now you don’t have to feed, bathe and tuck ‘m in, but you do have to signpost them to the right organizations and departments if things aren’t going too well. Within Warwick University, each residence has at least one tutor, to make sure all residents are having a pleasant experience.
Before you sign up to this, beware. It is actual work. It can range from being woken up in middle of the night by a drunk resident who has lost their key, to dealing with residents who are suffering from mental health issues that have escalated as they are far from home, to calling ambulances as things have gone extremely awry. Although you are not in any way, shape or form asked to perform as a shrink, doctor, friend or teacher, things can happen and sometimes they do happen. As a result there is quite an intensive vetting process for the RLT and there are restrictions placed on your free time. A tutor who is out partying every night is of no use, and will be kicked off the RLT in a matter of days.
Teaching and Research If you are a student at the undergraduate level, you might be able to get tutoring jobs for kids in high school. If you are enrolled in a master’s degree this option is also available to you, plus you might be able to teach undergraduates as well. You could become a teaching assistant or even a seminar tutor. This pays a lot more than minimum wage and is generally quite fun to do, without being too time-consuming. It is a great experience as well if you would like to remain and progress in academia.
For PhD students the option to teach is promoted quite differently. Some are able to do it to earn money, others have mandatory, unpaid/reduced-pay hours in their contracts. Make sure you always read your contracts carefully. Because 100-hours of teaching per academic year is utter sh*t if they are unpaid. Keep that in mind. Another way to earn money is marking. Make sure that when accepting a teaching job that includes marking, the marking is paid for as well. And is paid for to a decent extent. You can’t mark twenty 2500 word essays in an hour. Try me.
Teaching itself pays quite well, but again make sure you don’t overdo it. Especially in a PhD, there is a limit to the amount of hours you should be able to teach. You are a researcher before you are a teacher.
When it comes to research, year 3-4 undergraduates and master students could look into research assistantships. During these you would help out researchers, often PhDs and Post-docs, with their research. Don’t get too excited, it is very likely you will end up doing the worst parts of the research such as entering data into Excel or other admin-based tasks. You might even be asked to perform basic statistical analysis, which isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite pastime. Regardless, these jobs tend to be paid quite well for the amount of hours you spend on them and it’s a great experience as well. Drawback is that you tend to need to know someone to get in, or you need to know where to look for assistantships. Often, having higher grades, being in the top 5% of your year etc., helps as well.
Experiments One of my favourite sources of income as an undergraduate was participating in experiments. In Maastricht, where I did my undergraduate we have BEELab, which is the Behavioural and Experimental Economics Lab and an entire Psychology department looking for participant data. When partaking in someone’s experiment you would be able to earn money, as you distribute them with data they need for their dissertations and papers. A total win-win. Warwick University at which I am now, has the Behavioural Science Lab in the business school, but it also has the Psychology department and part of the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) looking for people who are willing to answer questions, test products or engage in experiments.
One draw-back to earning money this way is that the need for participants is not constant. You can definitely see some seasonal fluctuations depending when the semesters start and end. Just before summer break quite a lot of PhDs and Post-docs still have to run experiments and suddenly there is a wave of opportunities to make money coming your way. But do not expect the same number of experiments to occur around November, because it won’t.
A second draw-back can be found with decisions-under-risk experiments. Because it often involves gambles, it is possible that you will walk out after a 1.5 hour experiment, with nothing to show for it but the actual show-up fee of £4. It happens.
I think this article has become long enough. I think these are the best ways to make money being a student, apart from the obvious type side-jobs that are available to non-students as well. Let me know if this article was useful, or if you know better ways to make money as a student!