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How to Make Money as a Full-Time Unpaid Intern

Remember the good old days when summer meant no work and all play? When being done with school meant hours at the pool and sleeping ‘til kingdom come? Unfortunately, when you’re in college, summer isn’t all fun and games anymore. In today’s job market, finding work after college is hard enough. That’s why during the summer, many college students are looking to gain some work experience. Without classes bogging you down, summer is the best time to dive into a full-time internship. But for a college student with minimal experience, chances are that if you score that dream full-time internship, it won’t be paying.

Unpaid internships are sufficient if you have no expenses and don’t mind a relatively non-existent social life. But for those who actually need money to live, don’t fear. There are great summer jobs that can work with your internship schedule and put some cash in your pocket. As long as you know what to look for, making money doesn’t have to interfere with planning for your future. Follow these guidelines and it’ll be easy to make money this summer.

Pick a job you know will work with your schedule (waitress, retail, barista)

Go for a job whose hours you know won’t conflict with your full-time internship. If you’re a morning person, pick up a few hours before work at a local coffee shop or breakfast restaurant. Many shops open at 6 a.m. or earlier, so if your internship starts at 9, ask about opening a couple days a week. There won’t be many people fighting you for those shifts. Work a few nights a week as a waitress or a hostess. Megan Sloan, a recent grad of Colorado University, interned at Ligit Networks and also worked weekends at a local restaurant. She says the restaurant was family-oriented, so they needed extra help on the weekends. “I made great money for a college student,” Megan says. Even if you can’t work very many hours in the service industry, the hours are convenient and the tips you’ll pick up will add a nice bonus to your paycheck.

Opt for a seasonal job (catering server, party company, lifeguard)

Even if your full-time internship makes it nearly impossible to socialize, summer is the optimal season for get-togethers, weddings and extravagant parties. That’s why many catering and party companies hire part-time workers over the summer. Maddy Foley, a recent grad of Kenyon College, worked as a caterer while she interned full-time. “Because it's an event-based job,” she says, “you work, for example, one 10-hour event instead of operating around a set schedule that spreads hours out across the week.” Maddy says that she was making over $100 per week and only working one or two events. Companies that hire seasonal workers are a perfect fit for busy collegiettes. Even summer jobs like lifeguarding or a summer day-care are often looking for workers on the weekend during the summer break. Plus, if you do a good job, they’ll be looking to hire you back next summer.

Make your own hours (tutor, babysitter, house-sitter)

When you’re interning every day from 9-5 p.m., having a job where you can dictate your own hours is a blessing. Ask your neighbors if they need a babysitter or sign up at an online service like SitterCity. If changing diapers and pushing strollers isn’t your thing, tutoring is also a great opportunity for college students. Natalia Lehaf, a recent grad of New York University, worked tutoring jobs while interning at Saturday Night Live. “I chose the jobs because they worked around my internship schedule,” says Natalia. “The hours [at SNL] are ridiculous.” She says that having a job where she can make her own hours was a great way to make money without cutting into her interning time. You can even sign up through your university to tutor other students. Ask your counselor about what opportunities your school offers. Jessica Johnson, a recent grad of the University of Alabama, adds that one of the best places to look for odd jobs is at your internship. “Make it known, without being too obnoxious, that if anyone in the office is going out of town you will house sit or pet sit.” That way, your unpaid internship just may result in some much-needed cash flow.

No job at all (garage sales, eBay, blogs)

Who says you need a weekly paycheck to make money? Try selling some of those old prom dresses on eBay or finally cleaning out that storage room and having a garage sale. It’s a great way to get rid of stuff you don’t need and make a large sum of money with minimal effort. Also, try to pick up a few freelance jobs here and there. Alexandra Churchill, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire says, “Finding freelance work while you intern can be a great way to make some extra cash on the side.” Jessica Johnson agrees, saying, “Always be on the lookout for chances to make some freelance things work for you.” Jessica says last summer she was paid to go “celeb spotting” for a night. Talk about easy money! Check out Craigslist or ask around in your neighborhood or at your internship. If you’re looking for something more consistent, you may find companies are that will pay for ads on your blog or website if you have ones. If you like fashion or photography, start your own blog. If you sign up with a company like Google AdSense, they will post advertisements on your blog and every time a viewer clicks the link, it’s money right into your pocket. Keep an eye out for odd jobs or easy money here and there. Even if it doesn’t make much, a little cash here and there can add up fast.


How do you make cash while juggling an internship? Tell us in the comments sections below!

Coming from the small, mountain community of Evergreen, Colorado, Nicole is currently studying english and journalism at New York University. She has served as the Social Media Agent for the Washington Square News, beauty intern for Seventeen Magazine, and is currently an editorial assistant for Good Housekeeping. Beyond her writing, Nicole is an avid runner, former president Zeta Tau Alpha at NYU, and is passionate about her lifestyle blog www.stressinnicole.blogspot.com.
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