College is Inefficient. Exploit It.

Guest Post by Austin Yoder
Since my sophomore year of college, I have consistently worked between two and four part-time jobs. Last spring, I worked three part-time jobs and started a freelance business doing online research and personal outsourcing work on the side. All this while taking 18 intense credit hours, including a graduate seminar in the Philosophy department.

When people ask me if I had any friends in the midst of my work and academic loads, I always laugh. They aren’t looking at it the right way. In terms of how satisfied I’ve been with the social life at Georgetown, last spring was my most gratifying semester at college yet. I had time to hang out with friends and make new friends. I even met one of my closest friends in the world, whom I traveled with in India over the summer.


Because college is completely, utterly and shamefully full of inefficiency. If you can recognize the inefficiencies at play in a college environment, you can exploit them. As I have come to appreciate: inefficiency breeds opportunity.

First, I’m going to talk a little about how I managed three part-time jobs while starting up a freelance business with a full academic load. Then I’ll leave you with some thoughts about how you can exploit the inefficiencies of a college environment to earn more money, start your own business and exceed the world’s expectations.

Exploit Inefficiencies and Don’t Regret It.IMG_2532

After you graduate, you will (hopefully) never have a useless job in your life. While you are at college, however, useless jobs are difficult to avoid. Students get paid to do work that requires less mental power than you’d find in a vacuum cleaner. They are managed by people who have less mental power than a vacuum cleaner.

What kind of jobs am I talking about?

Usually they come in the form of federal work-study jobs. Work at the library. Secretarial work in a dusty office. Work as on-campus security, or work in the mail room. I have a friend who has told me that four times a week she checks into her job at the mail center on her campus, works for an hour, and literally gets paid for a five-hour shift. Twenty hours of pay for four hours of work. With her manager’s approval. Great for her, but completely wasteful on the part of her university.

Let’s call these jobs “menial on-campus jobs.”

Lots of students with menial on-campus jobs like them because they can get paid to do their homework, surf the internet or watch online TV. They like menial on-campus jobs because they get paid to sit still.

I like menial on-campus jobs too, and for the same reason. The only difference between me and most students with a menial on-campus job is how we use the time we get paid to sit and do nothing. Instead of getting paid to do homework or waste time on the internet, I get paid to do work from other part-time jobs.

Let’s recap. You can get paid twice for the same chunk of time when you take advantage of the fact that menial on-campus jobs pay you to sit around and do nothing. I refer to this as the Strategic Double Dipping technique.

Strategic Double Dipping: How to Double Your Hourly Earnings with No Extra Effort. Right Now.

Example: Get one job at the library circulation desk (menial on-campus job) and another as a research assistant helping a professor edit papers. Lets say you make $8/hr at the library, and $9.5/hr as a research assistant.

Exploit the fact that your job at the library requires no effort and little attention. Bring papers to edit for your research assistant gig while you work at the library. Instead of earning merely $8/hr or $9.5/hr, lump all of the work into the same block of time. Now you’re making $17.5/hr – congratulations!

If you need help finding menial on-campus jobs, or jobs that let you move around your campus, get in touch with the people at your school’s career center.

Get Paid to Start a Business

I used the Strategic Double Dipping technique for half a semester last spring, and made anywhere from $18 – $23 per hour. Then I realized that I had an even better opportunity in front of me. I could take advantage of my menial on-campus job and get paid while I started a business. Once I realized this opportunity was sitting right in front of me, I jumped on it.

Since February of 2010 I’ve freelanced from six different countries. I have plans to aggressively expand my freelance work in 2011 as I continue to travel the world. Any college student with an ounce of desire can do the same, or something better.

If you want to start a business, college is a great time to do it. You don’t have to worry about rent, bills, mortgages, a family or which tax bracket you fall into. At the very least, you don’t have to worry about all these things together like people in the real world do.

If you need to earn more money, if you’ve been thinking about starting a freelance business or just want to see how people react when you tell them you have three part time jobs … go and do it.

Think about what the world expects from a college student, and compare it to what the world expects of a successful 30-year-old businessperson. It’s easy to exceed the world’s expectations when the bar is set low. If you play your cards right, the world will never have fewer expectations of you than it has at this very moment in time. If that’s not motivation to accomplish something great with your life, I don’t know what is.


3 thoughts on “College is Inefficient. Exploit It.

  1. That’s some good advice, although I’d say, not one that most college students would be disciplined enough to follow, nor one that would be easy to do for those in math/science with serious research aspirations (the kind of school I went to).

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