If you’re like me, you weren’t fortunate enough to get into a graduate program that provided you with stipends, assistantships, scholarships, grants or any other kind of financial means to help you make it through the long, hard journey of grad school.
My first year of grad school I worked full time while also going to school full-time. When I say I was killing myself, I literally mean I was killing myself. So many health issues arose during this time – I gained 30 pounds, went through a spell with severe alopecia areata, energy levels were at an all-time low, and I found myself constantly being stressed, irritable, and emotional. I knew I couldn’t continue to live my life like that!
So, I searched high and low for different and not-so-common forms of income. I knew Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) wasn’t for me by any means, trading requires too much of my time and energy, stripping wasn’t an option because I have no kind of rhythm, and I definitely wasn’t willing to sell my soul for a few extra bucks.
Now that I’ve finally reached the finish line of my graduate school career (THANK GOD), I thought I’d share the routes that I consistently went to make a few extra bucks. While some proved to be quite lucrative, others may have just been able to put some food on the table on the bad days.
1. Research studies/ Focus Groups
I literally was able to pay my security deposit for my apartment off of one research study that consisted of me walking through a fake airport security setup three times which took less than an hour. There are TONS of research studies out there that are willing to pay you for your time, your opinion, to demo how a potential product will be used, etc. The opportunities are limitless. I’ve done research studies that required me to type on an iPad, an iPhone and a computer while being recorded and was paid $100 for it. I’ve gotten anywhere between $20-$450 per research study. You can find these studies on Craigslist. There are other websites that have search engines for research studies, but i’ve found craigslist to be most reliable for me. A lot of the studies I’ve done in the past have also followed up or invited me back to do other studies they may be having as well.
*DISCLAIMER* – Some research studies, specifically medical studies, want you to come in for specific health issues and may want you to draw blood, take a medicine for a trial, or other more intimate things. I tried this once – and prefer not to do it again. But, the medical studies are usually the most lucrative. However, you can still find plenty of studies that won’t require you to do much!
2. CrowdSourcing Apps
Crowdsourcing apps are great because they are literally apps you download on your phone, then based on your location they show you simple gigs (similar to Mystery Shopping) you can complete in your area to make a few extra bucks. When I say a ‘few’ extra bucks, I do mean a FEW. These gigs could range from a few cents to $20-$30 bucks per gig. For a long time, I was picking up gigs on EasyShift and FieldAgent. You would pick up a shift, and within 24 hours you were to complete the task that is asked of you. 90% of what I did on these apps consisted of me going into Family Dollar, Dollar General, or Rite Aid and taking pictures of specific items on shelves, ensuring that these items were in fact available in the stores and adequately placed. These gigs commonly paid about $18/gig and the gig time ranged from 5 minutes to an hour. Most of the gigs asked for the exact same thing, so once you do a few of them and get the hang of things, you could complete them quickly.
The downfall to these is that, sometimes they pay very little for a large task (which to me wasn’t worth it, so I would avoid picking up those types of gigs) and that if a lot of people in your area use these apps, it’s almost like a competition to pick up gigs! But, these apps came in handy, especially over winter and summer breaks, when my refund checks were pretty much exhausted and I was stretching pennies waiting for the next semester to start!
3. Mock Interviews
If there are law schools in your area, there are probably plenty of opportunities to do mock interviews for the law students. My school’s law school actually offered $20 per mock interview with no real limit to how many you could to each semester. I found myself doing multiple each semester. While this is a small amount of money, it definitely can make the difference between ramen noodles or real, edible food for dinner! Look out for advertisements for mock interviews or mock counseling sessions on bulletin boards and law school websites.
4. On-Call Jobs
So, on-call jobs are not always the best, especially if you’re availability is very limited. However, they can be quite convenient if you’re willing to sacrifice some of your free time to just ‘be available’ in the event that they need you. I work for a hospital as an on-call domestic violence advocate. What this means is that every other week, for an entire week, i’m on call during the ‘after business hours’ (5pm-7am and weekends). Whether I get called in or not, I get paid a weekly rate. If I do get called in for a case, I get paid a certain rate per case, and if I end up being there over 2 hours, I get paid an additional rate. This means, I’m getting paid whether I come in or not. I’m getting paid just to be available IN THE EVENT that i’m needed. And, if I am needed and do get called in, that’s additional money. This is great for me because it gives me fluff money.
The pitfall is that, the weeks that I am on call, I can’t go out, I can’t go too far away and I have to be ready to get to work within 40 minutes of a call. But, that’s every other week. But, I usually don’t get called in every night. At most I may get called 3 or 4 times in a week, but usually it’s more like once or twice. So, to me, it’s worth it. I get to do work that I enjoy, and get paid to do it whether I actually do it or not! I look at it this way – I’m getting paid to sleep every night but be available to someone in need if they need me!
Now, I’m not saying these methods will pay your rent, keep your fridge full, and keep a full tank of gas in your car at all times – BUT, these are great ways to supplement a refund check, a part-time wage or any other limited income that comes with the sacrifice of pursuing your graduate school education full-time. 🙂