Pocket jobs: Students make cash from apps

Many college students find themselves faced with the seemingly impossible task of juggling both a job and schoolwork. For those students who have full-time gigs, financial security still might seem like a daydream. A study conducted by the 2013 College Student Pulse found that 80 percent of students were working an average of 19 hours per week while going to school.

However, the key to work-life balance might be on your phone. In recent years, apps and websites targeting “work as you please” jobs have skyrocketed. Companies like Uber and Lyft give employees the opportunity to work literally whenever or wherever they want, drawing in a large number of college kids. Uber’s website boasts that its company is the ideal part-time job for college students, highlighting the benefit of working on their own time.

Music Business major Kayla Honea, 21, opts to use Shiftgig, an app that acts as a mobile temp agency based in Nashville. After applying through the app, potential workers interview at the Nashville office.

“The interview is nothing serious,” Honea explains.

After the interview, you fill out simple on-boarding documents and get a crash course on how the app works. After that, workers will have access to view and choose different jobs that they can “claim.” Once they claim a job, they show up, log their hours and receive a check every Friday.

“My experience has been positive overall: good pay, endless options as far as hours go and a variety of jobs to choose from. It’s perfect for college students because you only work when you choose to,” Honea says. “If I had to name a con it would be that most of the shifts are located in Nashville. But you’re making such higher pay than you would working at a retail store here or anywhere that it makes up the distance you have to drive.”

A common app that college students use both as a way to earn extra cash and for transportation is Lyft.

Kyle Elliot, 24, a recent electronic media communication graduate, drove for Lyft prior to working on for the Lyft corporate office.

“It’s definitely good income if you’re really busy or if you have a full-time job that doesn’t pay the bills,” Elliot said. “With Lyft, if you give a certain number of rides in a weekend, or something like that, the company will sometimes offer a (guaranteed bonus).

Although working on one’s own schedule is a plus, Elliot adds, “You work on your own time… But there is no guarantee that you’ll get a ride.”

Daniel Ladendorf, 23, an aerospace major, has driven for both Lyft and Uber in the past. While he had good experiences with both companies, he cited safety as a concern.

“You never know who is getting in your car,” Ladendorf said.

However, Elliot feels that Lyft has more protocols in place to secure safety than the company’s main competition Uber.

“Lyft is pretty safe… (Drivers) go through local, state and federal background checks,” Elliot said. “(Lyft does) a DMV check, so if you have so many points against your license, they won’t hire you. They also send a mentor to meet with you who walks you through how to use the app. They do a test drive with you, too.”

Both Ladendorf and Elliot agreed that the most rewarding aspect to the job was the personal encounters with different people.

“It’s learning everyone’s story,” Ladendorf said. “You get to drive and learn people’s stories. It’s cool to dive into someone’s life.”

“I actually picked up Luke Bryan’s old tour manager which was really cool,” Elliot recalled.

Playing off the idea of being paid to drive is an app called Shipt, a grocery delivery service. Shipt members can use the app to purchase groceries through Publix and have them delivered by a Shipt driver.

Shipt shoppers put themselves on a schedule and then can pick a shopping opportunity that pops up during their hours.

“The pro (is) that I get to pick my own schedule,” said Olivia Ladd, a junior majoring in journalism. “The con to that is that it’s definitely not a job that will pay the rent, but it’s good for side money.”

In addition to delivering for Shipt, Ladd also uses Care, a popular website where petsitters, nannies and tutors can upload their rèsumèto in order to find local jobs. While similar sites exist, Ladd prefers Care because she feels it’s safer.

“They do background checks,” she explains.  

This story originally ran in MTSU Sidelines’ February 2017 print edition. Read the full edition here

For more information, contact Editor-in-Chief Sarah Grace Taylor at editor@mtsusidelines.com

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