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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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The Art of the Odd Job: Making Extra Cash on a Student Schedule

Written by Michelle Anne Olsen

There’s a reason why certain programs and stores offer student discounts—student life is difficult, and most post-secondary students aren’t exactly flush with cash.

The enterprising student is likely aware of the financial options available to them to fund their academic ventures (scholarships and grants and bursaries, oh my!), but what is there to do once tuition is paid and you find yourself knee-deep in 6-hour labs and 10-page assignments?

The 9-to-5 is virtually out of the question for the full-time student. In order to make some spending money, you’ll have to think outside the box.

Below are some tried and true (and, key word, flexible) ideas to make some money during your studies. These gigs won’t support you full-time, but they might just line your pocket with extra dough while giving you the time you need to kick school’s ass. Whether you decide to spend that money on textbooks or campus karaoke nights…well, that’s up to you.

“The 9-to-5 is virtually out of the question for the full-time student. In order to make some spending money, you’ll have to think outside the box.”

Job: Pet-Sitter

Are you an animal lover? Did you grow up with a family pet? Why not put your experience and passion to good use as a pet-sitter? is a reputable website that connects would-be pet-sitters with pet parents. The website vets all profiles before they go live and even offers training videos and workshops to first-time caretakers. Sitters and owners alike benefit from the site’s insurance policy when they connect using DogVacay’s payment system.

The best part is, you set the terms. Are you open to walking dogs but not to welcoming them into your home (or residence building—yikes!)? Say as much in your profile.

You choose which services you want to offer, how much to charge, how far you’re willing to travel for a gig, which animals you’re comfortable caring for, and when you’re available to take bookings. The work is 100% customizable with an added benefit of getting puppy love without committing to a fur-baby full-time (not to mention that exposure to dogs has been used to fight student stress).

Job: Movie Extra

Everyone knows that Vancouver is “Hollywood North” and that the film industry there is booming, but did you know that there’s a growing need for extras in university towns like Ottawa and Toronto? Whether the movie or TV project is big or small, signing on as an extra is an easy and fun way to earn a few bucks.

“Is the job boring? Yes. Tiring? Definitely. But it’s a ridiculously simple way to make money.”

The easiest way to land a role is to sign up for a local casting agency (be sure that they trade in moving pictures—a modelling agency isn’t going to help you much here), which will give you access to casting calls for current projects for a nominal fee. If you match the general description of what the agency is looking for (i.e. college students, members of a congregation, passer-by on the street, zombies), it’s a simple matter of submitting a headshot and your contact information.

No acting experience is necessary. If you’re what the agency is looking for, you’re likely to land the gig. What then? Get ready for a lot of standing around and repeating the same action again and again. Don’t forget to dress for the weather between takes, too—I once got a sunburn on only one side of my body during an outdoor summer shoot.

Is the job boring? Yes. Tiring? Definitely. But it’s a ridiculously simple way to make money, and you just might spot the back of your head on the big screen in a few years’ time.

Job: Human Experiment

I know what you’re thinking… You’d have to be pretty desperate for cash to sign on as a human guinea pig. But this idea isn’t as crazy as you might think. It’s fairly common for post-secondary medical or psychology programs to seek out participants for class project or post-grad research studies.

Some studies require that participants meet a long list of specific criteria, while others are much more general. Don’t expect to be given too much information about what the study is about—you’ll often be told the bare minimum so as to not influence your behaviour. To this day, I have no idea what a couple-based study concluded about my boyfriend and I. For all I know, we’re woefully incompatible.

Studies recruit participants in a number of ways, so keep an eye on poster boards on campus, departmental websites, and local ad boards like Kijiji. Depending on the length of the study and the level of commitment (anywhere from a few hours one-off to weekly sessions for months at a time), compensation can come in the form of free services, gift cards, or hard cash. I hear that you get to keep any super powers you gain during testing, too.

How about you? Have you found any odd-job solutions to your money woes during the busy school year? Was it a good experience? Spread the wealth and share your story in the comments below!


*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.