Decades ago, it wasn’t unusual to find college students earning extra money waiting tables or working at the local mall while on holiday breaks from school. Coeds still occupy these types of jobs, but today the options are more extensive — allowing students to work schedules that better fit their needs, or commute no farther than their dorm rooms thanks to laptops and the internet.
“The tech savvy-ness of college students sets them up nicely to handle some interesting jobs, like remote jobs, for example,” says Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, a job search and advice site. “"Some of the part-time remote jobs we’ve seen posted frequently include English tutor, media designer, sales support specialist, communications analyst, language data entry, social media assessor, customer support representative and even student teaching assistant.”
PayScale, which provides salary comparisons for hundreds of different jobs, says it scoured its database to find the best jobs for college students that don’t require a degree and are part-time. Based on that data, it recommends: massage therapist (median $22 an hour with required certificate); dental receptionist (median $14.10 per hour); nanny (median $12.80 per hour); bookkeeper (median $12.70 per hour); and orderlies, bank tellers, tax preparers, tutors, general office clerks and restaurant hostesses (all averaging around $10.70 an hour).
Flexible jobs are enticing to students for myriad reasons. Student loan debt has become a very heavy burden in this country: 44 million borrowers now owe a total of $1.5 trillion. According to Statista, the average cost of attendance (which includes tuition, fees, and room and board) in a public four-year in-state institution was $21,370 in academic year 2018-2019.
Reynolds says she believes that college students may be working more than one seasonal or part-time job, trying to weave together various gigs to meet the financial demands of going to school.
“I think it mirrors the larger workforce as a whole, with people who hold multiple part-time jobs becoming increasingly more common,” she says. “Given that there are more gig-type jobs out there, college students are able to take on multiple assignments as needed, and they may be able to vary their workload so it’s lower during busy times like exam periods, and higher when they have more free time for work.”
Reynolds says that while some employers don’t specifically advertise for “college students,” those students on the lookout for seasonal, part-time work can make their job search easier by using keywords like “flexible schedule,” “part-time hours” and “temporary job” in their job search.
For college students searching for seasonal job or part-time work, consider these options:
Snow jobs. Seasonal resorts are busy during the holiday breaks and are looking for ski instructors, cooks, lodge staff, restaurant workers and even those to clear the trails and roads. Ski resorts and vacation destination activities like dog sledding also are looking for help during the busy winter months.
Seasonal produce. Whether it’s working at a pumpkin patch or roasting and packaging chiles, local farms are often eager to hire college students for part-time positions. There are also grape-harvest jobs for various wineries at peak times of the year.
Sports and entertainment venues. Many professional teams, from hockey to basketball to football are busy and in need of workers as seasons begin. For example, the Sacramento Kings is offering a college intern position to work temporarily during the sports season from September to May. The Kansas City Chiefs is looking for event staff. Entertainment companies are looking for part-time escape room gamemasters, corporate event staff and even a movie research brand ambassador. Check out Indeed or Glassdoor for the latest seasonal jobs.
Philanthropic work. Nonprofits often offer paying gigs that are a good fit for college students. For example, the Anti-Trafficking Fund hires college interns, and organizations like the Salvation Army need staff for onsite and after-school programs. Other organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of American and education groups need everything from part-time program coordinators to administrative help.
Some colleges have already started hosting job fairs for students interested in holiday jobs, with employers like Target, Nike and Panda Express oftentimes hiring on the spot. For those students who need extra income but want a more consistent work schedule, Reynolds suggests sticking with campus work study programs or retail positions. On the flip side, jobs that offer remote work or gigtype positions will offer the most flexibility, she says.