The perpetual image of a college student is one of near deprivation, rummaging for a couple of bucks to spend on something other than books or a meal plan. In this same image, students are crafty and shrewd, adopting unorthodox opportunities to pinch pennies and earn fast cash. It’s no wonder the relatively new and burgeoning shared economy has such high potential to benefit their bank accounts.
The shared economy gained most of its notoriety in the last 5 years with the adoption of room sharing via Airbnb and ridesharing via Uber and Lyft. But it’s become far more diverse, especially in urban centers and on college campuses, where millennials and digital natives tend to value experiences over possessions. Take owning a car, for example. Not long ago having regular access to a car meant ownership, which is expensive, especially for students on a budget. But today, students can share a car by the hour with services like Zipcar and Maven, and only pay for the time they need. What once represented one of the most expensive items on a student’s balance sheet between a car payment, maintenance, gas, and insurance is now easily manageable and affordable because of the shared economy.
What also commonly follows the experience-driven students are eclectic wardrobes. Luckily today it’s easy to wear the right clothes without filling up a closet with three to four figure ensembles someone might only wear a few times before going out of style. Services like Rent the Runway and Girl Meets Dress enable students to rent expensive attire for a modest fee and then return it.
The shared economy can be utilized by students for far more than pinching pennies, however. It’s a perfect medium to earn extra income, working on a personalized schedule to tailor work around a mercurial class and social schedule. Here are some examples of services students utilize for work:
Help people with chores via TaskRabbit
Students become “taskers,” helping others with odd jobs. Taskers set their own rates, and only work when they want to. TaskRabbit will notify taskers when a job pops up, and they can choose those they are most interested in. Examples of jobs include putting together furniture from places like Ikea, mounting and installing televisions, or even personal assistant work.
Deliver groceries with Instacart
Students can get paid to shop for other people, giving new meaning to comment “please pass the potatoes.” Instacart connects customers with “shoppers” who deliver fresh groceries to their door. The service has flexible work options for full-time shoppers who have access to car, and part-timers who do not.
Rent your driveway
Students with a pad on or around campus can earn extra cash by renting their driveway, garage or assigned parking space to someone else. It’s easy to create a flexible schedule, so if say, a student lives with roommate who is going out of town for the holidays, he or she can list a spot for whatever time the spot is open for.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg to the potential of the shared economy, which extends across talent, storage and experiences to almost anything imaginable. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that revenue from the sharing economy will increase to $335 billion in 2025 from around $14 billion in 2014. Students stand to benefit. The demand for flexible, shared economy workers increases as shared services gain more traction. The perpetual image of students might finally be changing. Rather than deprivation, the shared economy is tailored to boost the crafty, shrewd side of that equation for students with the gumption to seize the opportunity.
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