6 Ways for Recent College Grads to Be Productive During COVID-19

Anti-climatic is the perfect way to describe the class of 2020’s senior year. Spring breaks were cut short, end-of-semester celebrations canceled, and four years of hard work culminated in your name scrolling across a computer screen. And that was it. To make matters worse, so many college grads have had job opportunities taken away, and entire industries have shut down due to COVID-19 making it challenging to secure a position or start a career.

Despite these bleak circumstances, now is the time to look to the future. Allow yourself to explore unique but productive ways to keep up your professional experience in your respective industry. By the time businesses return to normal—or our new normal—employers will want to know what prospective applicants did during quarantine. And binge-watching Netflix shows just isn’t going to cut it. Below are six ways you can earn money, add to your resume, and get a head start on your career during the pandemic.

1. Instacart

Try this app for grocery delivery and pick-up. You can choose your hours and receive additional cash during peak times for demand. How much you get paid for a batch depends on several factors, including the number of items and driving distance. After the onboarding process, choose a batch you want to do and shop for groceries from major chains in your area like Aldi’s, Costco, and Target with the Instacart card. Once you’ve picked up everything on the list, drive to deliver. You receive an automated tip on every order that may adjust based on the total dollar amount purchased or if the customer makes modifications to the tip. Instacart is a great way to help your community, especially those at high risk for COVID-19 who might not be able to go to the grocery store very often.

2. PostMates and GrubHub 

You’ve most likely heard of these food delivery services, and maybe you’ve even used them as a customer. As a driver, you can choose your hours and earn more money when the demand for deliveries is high. Go to the pick-up location; make sure all items are accounted for and complete the delivery. For both services, you receive a card to pay for orders that aren’t prepaid and an insulated bag for keeping food fresh. PostMates prides itself on delivering within the hour.

With GrubHub, there is a distinctive difference to most food delivery apps. GrubHub runs on a scheduling format, which means you can sign up for scheduled delivery shifts (called blocks) for the following week. This system presents a few advantages: if you’re working a block, you receive a guaranteed hourly minimum and priority to higher-paying orders. You’re also assigned a program level, from Partner to Pro to Premier, and higher program levels sign up for blocks first. These levels are based on your activity from the last 30 days, and you can boost your level by increasing your acceptance rate and decreasing your “block drop rate.” Choose high-paying deliveries close by for the best results.

3. Sell Masks 

Most public places now require masks to be worn, so everyone needs at least one. And many people (myself included) want different masks to match different outfits. Start by gathering your materials. You can make masks out of cloth fabric purchased from a craft store or fabric you have at home. Search through the many tutorials on YouTube for how to make a mask; it takes less than 10 minutes, and some don’t even require sewing skills. Next, create a google form to display your creations and take orders. Finally, spread the word! Making masks is a great way to unleash your most creative self, and productively use your time to help your community.

4. Sell Your Old Clothing

Download Poshmark or Depop to sell your unwanted clothes or vintage items and earn money to clean out your closet. Gather the clothes you want to sell, take great pictures, list those items, and share, share, share! Check the current listings to get an idea of how to price your clothing and what items are selling. The buyer pays for shipping, but you must buy your own packaging. Note: Poshmark and Depop take cuts from your sale, and if you choose to receive your money through PayPal for Depop, PayPal also takes a transaction fee.

A more accessible alternative would be to take pictures of what you’re planning to sell and advertise on your Instagram story. Ask for people to DM you if they’re interested, and you can avoid fees. This is a good alternative if you have a strong following and know your followers would be interested in buying preloved clothing.

5. Keep Up Your Professional Experience

Many college grads completed an internship while at university. You had the opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of your industry and network with professionals for an entire summer or semester. Now is a great time to reach out to those contacts you’ve made because many professionals are working from home and may have more time on their hands to answer emails. Inquire whether they need assistance or if there are any opportunities to work/intern with them remotely. This is a great way to keep up with and add to your professional experience when the job market is tight, and many positions have gone remote. Speaking from experience, this method works!

6. Make Your Side Hustle Your Main Hustle

Use quarantine as an opportunity to develop your talent or side hustle fully. Put your all into those YouTube makeup tutorials you’ve been waiting to start, hone your crochet skills, or get creative and sell your art. Instagram has been positively overrun with fashion, paintings, and photography people just like you are selling to make some extra cash. Fine-tune a talent of yours and expand it to the public, and who knows, maybe a job opportunity will come from it!

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