5 Side Hustles Students can Find on Gig Economy Apps

Need to pick up a side hustle? Check out our list of hospitality shifts to learn which might be the right one for you!

As the end of summer winds down, you've likely found yourself back at school preparing for the fall semester to begin.

Before classes ramp up, it's time to reunite with your friends and hit up all of your favorite college jaunts. You grab a coffee from the cafe next door, order dinner from your favorite takeout spot, get drinks at your local dive, and - of course - end the day with a late night Uber Eats order.

It’s all so fun...but you know what isn’t? Finding yourself strapped for cash before you’ve barely had time to unpack.

If you're like most college students, your parents likely monitor your bank account and have told you to either get a job or cut back on your spending. And we all know how difficult the latter is when you’re in college.

As businesses look to replenish their seasonal employees, they're eager to hire high-quality shift workers who can start immediately. Luckily, that means there are a number of hourly shifts at your disposal that require minimal experience.

Let’s explore what your options are!


As a college student, you're probably very familiar with the ins and outs of your local bars. So what better place to pick up some part-time work?!

Working nights behind the bar might not sound like your ideal weekend, but the tips can definitely make it worth it! On average, bartending gigs make $150 per day in addition to their hourly rate.

Bartending gigs are a great way to immerse yourself in a fun environment and still see your friends -- all while earning some extra income along the way.

As a bartender, you will be expected to:

  • Welcome customers, take food and drink orders, list specials, and make recommendations.
  • Check identification to ensure customers meet the minimum drinking age
  • Maintain a clean workstation and environment while adhering to all food safety regulations
  • Fulfill drink orders, mix drinks, garnish glasses, and serve customers
  • Work with a POS system and handle cash or credit card transactions
  • Interact with customers, manage your time efficiently, and remain calm under pressure


If you like the bar environment but the hustle and bustle of being a bartender sounds intimidating, consider barback shifts. It’s a great way to learn the bartending ropes before you dive into the deep end.

A barback serves as support staff for a bartender and works mostly behind the scenes. Barbacks help keep the bar stocked with whatever the bartender may need throughout their shift. That can range from restocking garnishes, to replacing kegs, to replacing garnishes, and more.

Interested in working as a barback? Check out some of the key responsibilities to see if it’s right for you:

  • Prepare garnishes, juices, and mixers for service
  • Replace kegs and restock any liquor bottles, beer cans, and wine as needed
  • Collect empty glasses, cans, and bottles from the bar and surrounding areas
  • Keep napkins, coasters, straws, garnishes, and glasses fully stocked
  • Maintain a clean environment behind the bar
  • Provide support to the bartender(s) as needed throughout the shift


If you want to keep your social calendar free on weekend nights, you might find more flexibility as a server.

Breakfast or lunch shifts allow you to work during the day and still enjoy time with your friends at night. Plus, many restaurants offer their workers a staff meal during their shift. As a college student, what could be better than a free meal?!

On average, a server makes $100 in tips per day in addition to hourly rate.

The responsibilities of a server includes:

  • Welcome customers, take food and drink orders, list specials, and make recommendations
  • Check-in with your customers throughout their meal in order to provide drink refills, hear feedback, or provide additional menu items
  • Communicate with the kitchen staff to ensure that orders are accurate and are delivered in a timely manner
  • Bring orders out to customers and clear tables when they are finished
  • Prepare checks and facilitate payment in a timely manner
  • Maintain a positive attitude, work efficiently, and remain calm under pressure
  • Work with a POS system and handle cash or credit card transactions


If the idea of taking customer orders sounds stressful, you might want to consider applying to be a host or hostess.

As a host/hostess, you will be the first face customers see upon entering a restaurant. Working as a host/hostess is a great gig for anyone who is extroverted and loves interacting with others.

Although a host/hostess might not provide much service to guests after seating, they might be expected to jump in as needed if the wait staff is overwhelmed.

Within a restaurant, a host or hostess is expected to:

  • Welcome guests and understand how many seats they’ll require
  • Provide an accurate estimate of wait times (if applicable) and monitor the wait list
  • Take reservations and look up reservations upon a guest’s arrival
  • Accompany guests to their table, provide menus, and let them know who will be waiting on them
  • Monitor the phone and answer guest inquiries


Are you more of a keep-to-yourself personality? Check out open busser roles if that’s the case!

A busser supports the wait staff by keeping all dining areas clean as guests filter in and out of the restaurant. Bussers are instrumental during a restaurant’s peak hours as they clear, clean, and reset the table for the next round of diners.

As a busser, you’ll be expected to:

  • Set and turnover tables for incoming guests
  • Bring out water or break baskets as needed
  • Clear dirty plates, glasses, utensils, and napkins
  • Perform all tasks in adherence to all food safety regulations

Side Hustles Made Simple

If you're looking to pick up a side hustle, the hospitality industry is a great place to start your search. Businesses try to find shift workers fast to replace their loss of seasonal workers who - like you - went back to school.

If you're not sure how to get started, check out the gig economy! While some businesses are still trying to figure out how to find hourly employees, many have already turned to gig economy apps to find high-quality shift workers.

Gig economy apps, like shiftNOW, can help connect you to flexible hourly shifts that are available at competitive rates. Gig economy work enables you to craft your own schedule, decide where you work, and get paid out quicker than a traditional part-time job.

Picking up some part-time work in between classes doesn't seem so bad now, does it?

About shiftNOW

shiftNOW is a gig economy platform that connects hospitality’s finest brands to high-quality shift workers. Founded in 2022, we provide a flexible solution to the hospitality industry’s toughest problem - talent.

From one-time, recurring, or temp-to-hire shift workers, shiftNOW enables businesses to easily control how they resource their business and provides top-tier shift workers with an easy way to make money on their own terms. The right worker. The right shift. Right NOW.

Download shiftNOW and start earning today!