Cash-Strapped Students Solve Time, Money Problem With ‘Work-When-You-Want’ Jobs


Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/MCT

An Uber driver checks a phone app to find his next fare. The ride-sharing service posts the promise to ‘Work Around Your Class Schedule’ on its website.

Time and money. Not having enough of either is a common grievance for college students but even for those with jobs, going to college usually means little extra time for work leaving many students short on money to cover their expenses.

However, new employment opportunities in the form of “work-when-you-want” jobs have popped up from a number of employers over the last year.

Companies like Uber, Door Dash, InstaCart, and Shipt allow busy college students, stay-at-home moms, and those needing a little extra cash the ability to make money and work as little or as much as they like. Moreover, flexible side jobs can help students working part-time or working unpaid internships supplement their income and even put away some cash for a rainy day.

One of these employers is Shipt, an on-demand grocery delivery service currently found in 35 major cities that shops with large grocers like Publix, Meijer, Whole Foods, and HEB. Members place their orders online, and Shipt sends a shopper to pick up the groceries and deliver them to the customer’s house. Each shopper is paid a percentage of the order total plus a flat fee of $5 for every order delivered.

Bill Smith founded Shipt in 2014 as a same-day delivery company but added grocery delivery in 2015. Smith started the service after realizing the difficulty mothers faced when bringing young children into the store.

Shipt customer service representative Kyle Seckinger says the company filled a void by allowing “new mothers more time to spend with their newborn children instead of worrying about going to the store for formula and diapers.”

However, he claims, Shipt’s greater mission is to help all people including individuals with disabilities that cannot make it to the grocer.

“When customers contact us to say thank you because they are either bed-ridden, disabled, or have some type of handicap that prevents them from getting to the store, those are the times that make me proud to work for this company,” Seckinger says.

On the other hand, Shipt and similar companies benefit college students because they accommodate full schedules of extracurricular activities, classes, and social lives.  Flexibility makes these new types of jobs more appealing because “the schedule is entirely up to you,” Seckinger says.

Brittney Bonds, a Career Services Coordinator at San Jacinto College South Campus, explains companies like Shipt are showing how “industry is constantly adapting and changing.”

Nowadays, consumers seek to get from place to place or get their groceries with more convenience and efficiency. As a result, innovative companies are providing new opportunities for people to gain employment on their own time.

Bonds said the career services office offers San Jac students job search support like resume and application assistance, interview preparation, and applied job search strategies. These tools are available for students whether they are looking for a full-time job or a part-time job like Shipt. 

Either way, Bonds explains, the best job for a college student ultimately depends on the individual, but ideally, it would be a job that provides “a flexible schedule that doesn’t interfere with their classes and provides them with excellent leadership and development.”