4 side hustles for college students over break: Earn as much as $200 per gig

Side hustles can be an "amazing way ... to give yourself work, to build your portfolio."


The holidays are approaching, and for many college kids that means a break between semesters. While much of the school year might be packed with classes, this time off could offer young people a chance to earn a little extra cash. In fact, 46% of Gen Zers (or those born after 1997), many of whom are in college, already have a side hustle, according to a 2020 LendingTree survey of 2,021 Americans.

Doing side hustles in between semesters is an "amazing way to give yourself internships, to give yourself work, to build your portfolio," says Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and the Odd Jobs Newsletter. It gives you a chance to gain some experience in new fields and to build various skill sets.

Here are four side hustles for college students to consider picking up on a break from school.

Become a mystery shopper

When a brand or retail company wants to learn more about the customer experience in one of their shops, they send in secret shoppers to help provide valuable feedback. Mystery shoppers are asked to visit retail stores, food markets, local restaurants, and even amusements parks for a fee. In some cases, you might be asked to buy a product and be reimbursed. Be sure to check the terms of the agreement.

Try signing up to be a mystery shopper on apps like Gigwalk, where gigs pay between $3 and $100, according to the app, or BestMark, where gigs pay between $10 and $25, according to Sidehusl.com. You can also look for mystery shopping opportunities on job boards like ZipRecruiter.

Shovel driveways and sidewalks

If you happen to live in a snowy place and like physical activity outdoors, you might be interested in "a gig app specifically for snow shoveling" called Shovler, says side hustle expert Daniella Flores.

Jobs range from cleaning a car parked outside to shoveling a driveway and sidewalk. They can pay anywhere from $30 to up to $200 per gig, according to The Penny Hoarder, though the app does take a 20% fee.

"For kids that are at home for winter break and they need to make extra money, they can go on this app" instead of going door to door to ask neighbors if they need the help, says Flores.

Offer to help at a local business

"We live in a world right now where everyone needs a little bit of help," says Glantz, and that's especially true for food service business and retailers hurting for workers during the Great Resignation.

Think about a skill or type of company you might be interested in gaining experience in, research what local businesses exist in the field, then try, "walking in there and creating some sort of employment terms with them," says Glantz.

How to turn your side hustle into a successful business

Video by David Fang

Say you want to learn to bake. Find some of your local bakeries, offer to help two or three times a week for a few hours, and tell them what you'd be especially keen to learn about.

"It's finding local opportunities that might not even be listed or available, that work in your favor, that can teach you a skill or something you want to know but also pay you," says Glantz. The average pay for a baker in the U.S. is $13 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Start a blog, a Twitch page, or a podcast

If you love creating content and engaging with people or have a lot to say about a given subject, you could get paid to do so. While starting a Twitch page if you love streaming video games or a blog about comedy if you love "Saturday Night Live" might not pay immediately, taking your break to lay the foundations for these projects could ensure you get paid for what you love in the future.

Rocky Trifari, 26, started his blog in high school, tailored it to his love of traveling, and is now making anywhere from $100 to $2,500 per month from its affiliate marketing revenue. Musician Sereda started her Twitch account in May 2019 and by January 2021 was making an average of $4,500 per month streaming her music on it.

Maybe "you try to start a podcast or you try to start a YouTube channel," says Glantz. "These are not going to be quick ways of making money but these can turn into massive side hustles, and having the free time over your break might be a great time to build a moneymaking side hustle for the future."

Having the free time over your break might be a great time to build a moneymaking side hustle for the future.
Jen Glantz
founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and the Odd Jobs Newsletter

Consider what you're passionate about and would want to start creating content around, then do some research about how you can dive in.

Even if you spend a couple of years writing your blog or running your podcast and don't necessarily see much profit, you'll have honed your skills, knowledge, and awareness of the field. With the experience you've gained, you could offer your services as a consultant.

"Because I know how to start a podcast," says Glantz, "people hire me all the time to consult with them on starting a podcast." Consultants can make between $100 and $500 per hour, says Kathy Kristof, founder and editor of Sidehusl.com.

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