Saddled with loans or living off increasingly smaller stipends, grad students often need part-time jobs to get by in the real world. Luckily, grad students can take on work in their field, where their skills are worth a premium, or any kind of work so that they can pay the bills on time again. Balancing grad school studies and work isn't easy though, so you'll want to find flexible work.
This is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck — and as a graduate student, you can charge a high hourly rate for your expertise, arrange tutoring sessions so they fit in with your schedule, and even have your clients meet you on campus so you’re not wasting any travel time. If you don’t feel like taking the time to find students, there are tons of tutoring companies that will set you up with clients, even remotely.
If you have the skillset, working part-time as a web developer is a high-paying freelance option. Many small companies don’t have anyone on their staff with this skillset and are eager to update their online presence. As a student, having an irregular schedule makes it possible for you to take meetings during regular business hours while most of the work can be done on your own time.
Depending on your field, you may be able to offer consulting services. Businesses are constantly looking for experts to help them work on projects and solve problems, and as a graduate student, you have a lot to offer. Consulting has the added benefit of being a great resume builder, and may even lead to you launch a full-scale business upon graduating.
If you’re in grad school, odds are you did well on both the SAT and GRE. Working as an SAT or test prep teacher either by finding private clients or working for a tutoring center or large test prep company pays well and means all those nights spent doing practice tests can pay off a second time! While you might make a higher rate finding your own clients, working for a test prep company means you’ll have training and an easy to follow syllabus. You can also usually pick up extra hours proctoring practice exams, which can give you some quiet time to catch up on reading while you work.
Nonprofits are notoriously understaffed and are always looking for new funding. If you’re a strong writer, consider looking for part-time grant writing work. Aside from giving you measurable results to put on your resume, grant writing can be done at home and on your own schedule. It’s also a great way to build up a professional network before you’re searching for a full-time job. Idealist.org is a great place to look for nonprofit work, and you can filter for part time or even remote work.
If you’re fluent in another language, freelance translating is a flexible way to earn extra income. Graduate students can also use this opportunity to network with companies that might be potential employers when they graduate. Particularly if you speak a less well-known language, this can be a great way to get to know people in your field.
Similarly, many small businesses don’t have the staff, time or skills to keep their websites and social media updated and fresh. Writing content for either social media posts or a company’s blog is a win-win, relieving a business owner of a tiring task, and helping you make some extra money while learning more about a specific industry.
Being a graduate student, you probably have strong attention to detail and the ability to power through work others find boring or difficult. Part-time administrative work, such as data entry, reconciliation reports or filing can offer a steady schedule and a reliable source of income if you find the right company.
If you aced the SAT but can’t stand the thought of spending your evening in a room full of high school students, consider writing practice SAT questions for test prep companies who need material for online practice tests and their printed books. These businesses often seek out people who are highly knowledgeable about specific content areas.
Jobs outside of your field and skillset may pay less, but it can be taxing to constantly be using the same mental energy you use for your studies for work. After writing a chapter of your dissertation, the last thing you probably want to do is grade an undergraduate’s paper. A job with some downtime can let you earn money while relaxing or give you a little extra time to study (or even do work for one of the jobs listed above). Alternatively, jobs that are more physically active can be a nice change of pace and help you reset mentally.
Check if your university is hiring library desk staff — you’ll be ready to study as soon as you’re off the clock, plus you’ll have lots of downtime for your own reading. This job is relatively low-key and can give you time to get plenty of studying and work done, all while making money.
Dogs and exercise are both great ways to relieve stress. With a less traditional 9-to-5 schedule, dog walking is a fun way to make some extra cash. Check out sites like Rover or Wag to build a client base. Plus, you'll be able to be around puppies, even if you don't have your own. What could be better?
Caretaking is a job that will make you feel good too. Check out Care.com or call a local senior center. Many seniors need daily or weekly help with things like cooking, grocery shopping, or getting a ride to appointments. Ask around and see if any professors with young children need an extra babysitter and you may find yourself the department hero.
And last but not least, there’s always the classic fallback of bartending — the quintessential college student job. Though the hours can be tiring, you’ll get to meet lots of interesting characters and learning how to make fancy cocktails is a gift that keeps on giving. Plus, you can make plenty of fast cash in tips.
There are tons of part-time work opportunities available to grad students who want to earn some extra money. If you don't like any of the part-time work options on this list or are having a hard time finding part-time employment that suits your student schedule, head on over to your school's career center that should be able to help you in your part-time job search. They'll have tons of opportunities on and off-campus to earn you an average hourly pay or more.
Ana Cottle studied Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. She has lived and worked in Uruguay and Argentina and speaks both Spanish and Yiddish. She is passionate about issues facing women and has written for a number of publications, including books, newspapers, and online journals. Read more from Ana at medium.com/@AnaCottle/.
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