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The six best summer side-hustles for students

One summer job just isn’t enough anymore but there are money-making opportunities out there, from freelancing to festivals.

The summertime can be a financial pressure cooker for some students as they scrounge, mooch and save for their next round of tuition payments, often due by mid-September. Traditionally, students have turned to summer jobs for their cash.

Popular search engines students use to source summer employment are, the Youth and Students job bank through the Government of Canada and exclusive postings found at their campus career centre.

But well-paying full-time gigs can be a challenge to secure and internships are often unpaid.

That’s why students need to consider getting their side-hustles on.

Side-hustles aren’t doing anything illegal like robbing a bank or cooking meth. They are simply another source of income; and generally that income source isn’t in the form of a nine-to-five job. Because the pay can be sporadic, most students need more than one side-hustle to make the equivalent of a well-paying summer job in their field of study.

Here are the top six summer side-hustles for students:

Dog walking and house sitting

Knock on some doors and ask around with friends and family to see who needs help managing their pets and property. Your duties would be walking, feeding and entertaining the dog, and/or keeping the house safe, secure and tidy for your employer. This side-hustle takes anywhere from 10 to 40 hours each week and commands minimum wage. The ideal situation is acquiring a group of clients that live near each other, which will allow you to optimize your time, while charging each of them the same rate.

People minding

Many families need caregiving services for children or grandparents. In both cases, you would be responsible for caring for your employer’s family members, just like you did when you used to babysit in your teenage years. This is a minimum wage gig and the hours would vary.

Slinging drinks

Fun, right? Yes. Working at a restaurant and bar can be especially fun for students because it combines social interaction with a paycheque. I used to serve at nights and on weekends at Earls, while I worked days at RBC. The base wage for service is minimum wage, but the gratuities can be many hundreds of dollars in a week.

Carnivals and festivals

Massive events and expos happen in every major city during the summer and offer temporary employment opportunities for up to two weeks. My cousins used to work the food trucks at the Calgary Stampede every summer for 10 very long days. They received base minimum wage plus overtime hours at two times their hourly rate.

Apply for scholarships like it’s a full-time job

Two-thirds of scholarships go unclaimed every year because students don’t bother applying, and therefore, it’s a huge financial mistake not to apply. Over 80 per cent of applications to the Knowledge First Graduate Scholarships were submitted in the week prior to the deadline — and many more were started but never completed. Yikes!

There is so much money available in scholarship funding that I believe it’s worth treating the application process as another side-hustle opportunity. Online resources, such as Yconic.comUniversities Canada and, compile lists of privately funded scholarships offered by private organizations like Applied Arts Magazine, TELUS or TD Canada Trust.

Published by The Star May 7, 2018.

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