By Alex del Tufo
The reputation of the “Broke College Student” becomes a reality the first day of freshman year. And because saving money is not my strong suit, I have tried a few different tactics to bring in some extra money in my fleeting free time. My microeconomics professor last year said that free time is a form of currency, so this is how I’ve tried to navigate that.
Here are the jobs I’ve tried, ranked.
4. “Part-time,” but really, way too much time job
By my second semester freshman year, I was living off a steady $10 in my bank account. I was missing out on experiences with friends, getting anxious about my less than responsible spending habits and eventually living off of meal swipes exclusively. So, I checked every hiring website and saw a bougie oyster bar hiring hostesses in Kenmore Square. It paid above minimum wage and promised in the interview that shifts would be around 5 hours. I told them I could work three days a week (less than half the week, no biggie, right?) and started up right after winter break. After receiving my first work schedule, I realized that shifts had no end time. I would start mid-afternoon and would stay until they needed me. This part-time job turned into 20–30 hours a week with shifts often ending after 11 p.m. Although I was finally financially sturdy, my grades and social life suffered. I got a C in a class and missed friends’ birthdays and BU Lobster Night. I decided that although I was making money, it simply took up too much of my valuable free time.
3. No job
I’m including this simply to show that it ranks above my “part-time, too much time” job. Although my financial state made socializing more challenging, I had the valuable time to focus on my academics without the stress of another major obligation. However, it’s also important to recognize that I’m privileged enough to have the freedom to not have a job, which many people do not.
2. Actual part-time job
Last semester, second semester of my sophomore year, I found a real, part-time job. I joined the on-campus catering crew, Catering on the Charles. Employees are able to simply sign up for whatever shifts they have the time for online. This made it easy to not work during hectic weeks, but also involved a great deal of self-discipline to actually sign up for enough shifts.
1. Research study participant
Finally, I found the perfect, low-time commitment job. I’ve been told I got lucky, but Craigslist saved me. I know, I know, it’s “sketchy,” but I found the opportunity to be involved in a research study at a local hospital through a Craigslist listing. I started through the BU work study site, and after not finding anything that peaked my interest, switched over to Craigslist. The study is through a reputable and not-at-all sketchy hospital in the Fenway area. I had a phone consultation beforehand and met with them twice before fully committing. The researchers are using my involvement to help search for a vaccine to HIV/AIDS. Although the job does not pay enough on its own to support me entirely, its hourly wage is far beyond any typical job, and the time commitment is only once or twice a month. So be cautious, but maybe don’t write Craiglist off just yet.