Jobs in college: Is self-employment a good option?

John Watson, Sports Editor


Working while also going to college can be quite a pickle. With the workday cutting into study hours and having limited time to yourself, it can be a juggling act balancing work and school. However, students are pursuing a different kind of job these days. Their boss? A cell phone app.

Unlike traditional taxi services, Uber and Lyft drivers are contracted through their respective apps to pick up riders, groceries or even a Big Mac meal from McDonalds. These drivers are able to work on their own schedule and stop whenever they’d like to. This ‘choose your own schedule’ business model is allowing students to be more flexible.

With flexibility comes tradeoffs, and when not delivering during peak hours, drivers are at the mercy of the app. 

Image Courtesy of Kai Pilger, Unsplash.

Andres Prieto, who has been working with Uber Eats for the last year and a half, quit his last ‘traditional’ job due to the harsh scheduling of hours and constant exhaustion. Being in college and trying to earn money to pay for things like rent, groceries and others, he likes the benefits that Uber Eats offers.

“Just drop the food off, take a picture, knock on the door and go on my way,” Prieto said about what Uber Eatsis normally like. “Yeah, that’s pretty much the whole job. You do that the entire night until you feel like you’ve made enough money and then you turn it off and go home.”

On average, Prieto says that he is making more per hour than that of his previous job working in the food industry in a restaurant in the Town Center. This does come with a price due to putting many miles on his car and having to factor in gas prices. Luckily, he owns a Toyota Prius and 45 miles to the gallon sure helps when going across town.

He likes the benefit that working with Uber gives him the flexibility to work whenever he wants to. Having the ability to go to certain events during the school year without having to request time off is one of the perks of being self-employed.

While being a student and graduating in December, Prieto will continue to use Uber as his main source of income until he starts his career in a few years. Even then, he says that Uber will still be on the table.

“If I’m just out one day have nothing to do and would like to pick up some extra money, I’ll have Uber in my back pocket,” Prieto said.

While driving for Uber can be beneficial to students like Prieto, other students have a different mindset when it comes to working. Students on campus sometimes don’t have access to cars or prefer a stable hourly rate over driving for Uber.

Traditional jobs are becoming more flexible and with COVID-19 affecting small businesses, there have been more help-wanted signs in storefronts than ever before. 

Jordan Godwin, who works in a fast food restaurant in the Town Center, likes having a set amount of hours he works per week and a set schedule. With school starting back up soon, he sees no issue with it affecting his schedule.

“It kind of just keeps me keeps me busy, it gives me something to do,” Godwin said about working a traditional job. “It gives me a reason to not procrastinate as much for my homework.”

Having a centralized place and schedule where Godwin earns a stable income is key as he has worked his whole time in college. He sees the benefits in driving for Uber with flexibility, but also notes that sometimes things won’t be all rainbows and butterflies.

Godwin referenced how Uber works on a demand system that there will be really good busy days and other bad sitting-around-in-your-car kinda days. Also, ending your day in a location that you don’t want to be in and having to drive 30 minutes home in traffic for a bigger order is something that has driven him away from Uber.

While he personally wouldn’t self-employ with Uber, he encourages others to weigh their options when it comes to employment.

“I’m sure you can drive Uber with a friend or something, and play some music,” Godwin said. “So it’s a lot less stressful than being in a restaurant, but it really just depends who you are.”

The job market for students has a lot of different options and picking the right one for yourself is paramount when it comes to work, student, and life balance. It all depends on your schedule and what you want to accomplish whether it be more free time, more money or even more flexibility.


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