With money tight and jobs scarce, students look to the Internet for ways to make some extra cash.
With the difficulty of finding part-time jobs and open work-study positions on campus, Temple students are turning to alternative money-making ventures, such as text-message Q-and-As, answering surveys, reading paid e-mails, playing games and selling products online.
But with many websites that offer ways to get rich quick, it can be difficult to know which are legitimate. Rachel Brown, the director of the Career Center, said she and her team of counselors can offer advice on how to recognize a scam.
“One of the things we advise students to watch out for is a pyramid scheme and what cost or fees are associated,” Brown said.
Sophomore psychology major Mike Althouse is one of the many students wary of being scammed.
“I know I did something like that before [take surveys online] and I don’t think I got money from it,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of money-making sites have catches, for example, following through with additional requests, et cetera.”
Some organizations that require a small start-up fee are schemes; others are not.
ChaCha, a text message-based Q-and-A format service, requires that prospective employees pass an online quiz before being offered a job. After that, the setup is simple.
The worker signs into an interface that lists the questions people text in from around the world. Most can be answered with a simple Google search, but the pay rate is two cents per question answered.
Paychecks either come instantly through an online system or can be accumulated over time for a bigger payout.
Other slightly more lucrative options include survey-based websites like SurveySpot.com and SurveySavvy.com. On these sites, students serve as a focus group for an upcoming product and, in return, bring in cash.
The time it takes to complete a survey varies, but compensation per survey averages $1.
“As for online surveys, I don’t take them because of the spam and viruses that your computer would usually get,” said Julie Chhour, a junior biological anthropology major.
A different category of websites lets members read through e-mails to make a small amount of cash – the most popular of these being InboxDollars.com.
After joining, members receive two or three “paid e-mails” a day that require one click to earn two cents each. Other parts of the site let users play online games, shop, collect coupons and fill out more surveys.
On InboxDollars.com, participants build up money for their actions on the site but cannot collect a check until they’ve earned $30 – which, at 50 cents and $1 for most surveys and two cents per paid e-mail, accrues fairly slowly.
“Definitely research the organization,” Brown said. “Be very wary. Do not accept a position without something in writing about who the organization is, what you’ll do for them and your compensation.”
A less Internet-oriented option is to sign on as a sales representative for a business and earn commission off whatever items are sold.
“You could be charged for training materials,” Brown said. “It’s important for students to be aware of how much money they’re putting out and being very careful to read the fine print as far as expectations, commitments. What’s the salary? Is it commission salary?”
These jobs usually require an up-front cost to pay for a demo kit, and the employee works as a salesperson to make up the cost and bring in profits.
Some of the more common examples include selling makeup for Avon or becoming a Mary Kay beauty consultant. There’s also the option of selling knives and kitchenware for Vector Marketing.
For the more salacious salesperson, there are several companies that offer similar jobs selling sex toys.
Students who consider themselves an expert in a field, or who are very passionate about a certain subject, can do what undeclared sophomore Ben Lang did.
Lang established himself as a technology expert on Internet forums and began writing about the subject for money. He currently contributes to Carrypad.com, UMPCPortal.com and Notebooks.com.
“My work involves reporting and commenting on tech news that is relevant to the demographic for which I’m writing,” Lang said.
The best benefit, Lang said, was that he can work from anywhere. His freshman year, Lang went to the University of Hawaii.
Experience, he said, is another benefit.
“I’ve learned very much through my work. Because I have to keep up to date on the latest information, I’ve mastered the tools and workflow to do so out of necessity,” Lang added.
The constant attention it requires to write masterfully on a topic, Lang said, can be tedious and recommends students only pursue this if they really care about the subject.
“If someone is looking to work online, they definitely should work with something they are thoroughly interested in,” Lang said. “The pay isn’t good, so if you aren’t invested in your topic, you’ll likely have a hard time staying motivated and on task.”
Brown said students can also find listings for part-time work on OwlNetwork. The site can be reached at https://templeuniv.experience.com.
“Any position on there, we have screened,” Brown said. “That is one place where students can go and be confident that the company has gone through a screening process.”
Rosella LaFevre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.