College Students in the Gig Economy

Our fall intern, Cullen, shares his personal experience with the gig economy and breaks down how it can be a great way for college students to make extra money on their schedule.

By: Cullen Lewis

After my first semester of college was over, I was close to being broke. It turns out that eating out 6 days a week and buying that futon that I “really needed” for my already cramped dorm room isn’t exactly the most financially sustainable way to live. I was in the hole, and I needed money fast. This is where the gig economy came to my rescue.


I had about 3 weeks to make as much money as I could to stock up for the semester ahead. Unfortunately, many employers won’t take on workers for such a short amount of time. All of the paperwork and training just seems like too much of a hassle for them. However, I found a solution. One day, while visiting the library in my hometown, a couple of representatives from a national courier were tabling and looking for seasonal employees for their peak season. The pay was $15.00/hr and I was able to choose my own hours as a driver helper. My specific job was to ride around in a truck and deliver packages to people’s doors. I worked 5-6 days a week from 9AM – 6PM for about 3 weeks with Christmas and New Year’s Day off. In that three-week time frame, I made over $1000 – more than I would make working my summer job in three months!


College students are one of many driving forces behind the rapid growth in the gig economy today. The gig economy simply fits the lifestyle of a college student year-round. By being able to choose their own hours, students can work around their class schedule. If they have a big project due, or finals week is around the corner, they have no obligation to work that week. On the flip side, if they are sitting around bored on a Saturday, there are plenty of weekend shifts needing to be filled.


What also entices these students to join the gig economy is the pay. Many traditional summer jobs pay minimum wage. Over 50% of the workforce in the US who were being paid minimum wage were between the ages of 16-24. Many of the jobs in the gig economy are offering upwards to twice the rate of minimum wage depending on the city.


One reason why college students may be reluctant on joining the gig economy is the fact that it is a completely new way to work. Students who worked summer jobs on very regimented schedules and the transition may feel a bit polarizing to these students. tilr, however, is here to help you easily transition into the gig economy. After signing up and filling out the skills profile, a quick call with a tilr ambassador will be scheduled who will then answer any questions regarding the transition into the gig economy!