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30 Things I Wish I Learned in High School

30 Things I Wish I Learned in High School
In 2001, I graduated from Eastmoor Academy High School in Columbus, Ohio as the sole valedictorian of my high school class. At the time, I thought I knew it all. I had taken intense AP courses and soaked up all of the knowledge my teachers gave me. I was ready to tackle the real world… or so I thought. Students learn a lot in high school. They discover how to solve complex equations, critically analyze classic novels, and understand the basics of biology. However, while subjects such as algebra and physics are important, many students would benefit from a high school curriculum with more of a real-world application. Here are some of the things I wish I’d learned in high school:

Basic Study Skills

In high school, students often receive review sheets for major exams and are told what information to look over in the textbook, but few take the time to really learn how to study. In college, study skills become a must. Students are expected to take in, process, and retain more information than ever before. The same is true if they apply for a job or join the military and must pass certification exams. Students who don’t have strong study skills are less likely to perform as well on those exams.

Time Management

Many high school students find themselves flitting from one activity to another while adults help them keep everything organized. If they miss a homework assignment or need an extra day to complete an assignment, it’s not that big of a deal. However, when they get a job or start to juggle multiple courses in college, it becomes a bigger deal. High school teachers and parents can help teach good time management skills to high school students and hold them responsible for failing to manage their time effectively.This also includes teaching students about prioritizing activities and making difficult choices about what is most important.

How to Practice Self-Care

Typically what happens in high school is students run themselves ragged until they finally burn out. Then they have a bit of an emotional breakdown, take a couple days off, and start the cycle again. High school is a great time to start teaching students about self-care. Teachers and parents can encourage students to listen to their bodies to avoid burnout, take regular time to relax, and learn how to manage stress in healthy ways. Many adults could stand to learn that lesson too.

How to Navigate the Healthcare System

Admittedly, many adults still have problems with this one. In high school, parents still often find healthcare providers and make appointments for their children. While that’s okay, the high school years are a good time to talk to teens about the healthcare process, explain to them why you chose a particular doctor, and even let them call and make an appointment for themselves every now and then. Let them in on the process involved with paying for doctor visits too, otherwise co-pays and deductibles may catch them by surprise one day.

Healthy Habits

This has become less of a problem with new programs that have been put into place, but many of these programs focus on eliminating foods from teens’ diets instead of teaching them healthy habits such as eating foods in moderation and exercising regularly. The best way to teach teens healthy habits is to model healthy habits. Teach them that it’s okay to indulge every now and then, but that pizza and soda every day is not ideal.

How to Prepare a Meal

Of course, if you want teens to develop healthy habits, they need to learn some of the basics of cooking. They may not have the skills to become a Chopped Champion, but they should learn how to make a simple salad or pasta dish and use a variety of kitchen utensils and appliances. Unfortunately, many high schools have taken out their home economics programs, but parents can teach these skills at home or teachers may be able to teach them through an after-school club.

Simple Household Tasks

How many high school students does it take to change a light bulb? A task that simple may not sound like a big deal, but high school students should get the opportunity to purchase a light bulb and change it. They should also learn other tasks, such as how to hang a picture, how to turn off the electric breakers, or how to unclog a drain.

Basic Car Maintenance

Oil changes can be expensive. As part of a driver’s ed course, teens should learn how to complete a basic oil change and how to change a tire. Often they watch someone else do it, but that’s not enough. They need to get under the car and get dirty to really learn how to do it.

How to Buy a Car

Buying a car is a big decision. Often teens are focused on getting the latest model or the coolest elements without spending much time thinking about the cost. Math class is a great place to teach teens about the basics of buying a car, such as depreciation costs, interest on a loan, and even the cost of gas based on a car’s standard MPG.

Get a Credit Card (and use it wisely)

The moment students turn 18, maybe even before, they’ll start receiving credit card offers in the mail or find themselves hounded by individuals asking them to sign up for a credit card. Both teachers and parents should take time to talk to students about the risks and benefits of using credit cards. Credit cards aren’t free money. If the bills aren’t paid, collectors have the ability to add even more unwanted stress to their lives.

The Basics of Saving and Investing

Saving for retirement or even a rainy day isn’t at the top of the average teen’s list, but it should be. Some high schools offer classes where teens invest in a virtual stock market, but the investing should go beyond that. Teach teens about mutual funds, 401ks, and the benefits of just having some money put away for emergencies. Rather than blowing any extra money they have, they can learn how to use that money to benefit them in the future.

How to Get through College without Student Loans

Many students want to go to college, but they can’t afford to do it. High schools often help students apply for scholarships to cover part of the cost and assume federal aid and loans will cover the rest. Schools should take time to talk to students about the importance of choosing a college they can afford, working while in college, or even delaying college (if they’re not sure what they want to major in) to help cut down on the cost. A student may have her heart set on an Ivy League school when her budget says she can only afford the state university. In many cases, both will provide a quality education.

Setting and Achieving Realistic Goals

Schools encourage teens to set goals for the future, but they often stop there. Instead of just telling teens they can be anything they want to be and encouraging them to set their sights high, schools should encourage them to set realistic goals, and then help teens develop plans to reach their goals.

How to Handle Failure and Rejection

As adults, we often want to shield our children from failure and rejection, but the fact is, they’re a part of life. High school is a great place to let students experience a bit of failure and rejection in a controlled environment and teach them how to develop resilience so they can bounce back and keep moving forward.

Negotiation Skills

Whether you’re buying a car, discussing the salary for a new job, or making a big decision for a company, negotiation skills are important. Negotiating doesn’t simply involve making a demand and insisting that everyone accepts it. It involves looking at both sides and coming up with a rational solution. Teachers can help students develop negotiation skills by allowing for some negotiating in the classroom, be it determining the consequences of a rule violation or choosing a due date for a large project.

How to Find a Job

A lot of career education in high school is focused on helping teens discover what they want to do for the rest of their life, but not so much on finding a job to just make ends meet. Teens should be taught where to look for jobs, how to apply for jobs, how to create a resume, and how to interview for a job, even if it’s just at a local fast food restaurant or big box store. They also should be taught how to spot a scam. If a job requires little work and promises thousands of dollars a month right out of high school, it’s probably too good to be true.

How to Interact with People Professionally

This includes being courteous and polite when talking with your boss or customers, keeping your emotions in check, refraining from gossip, and presenting yourself in a positive light. It also includes having strong business writing skills and knowing how to express yourself on the phone or in a business e-mail. Remember to pick a professional e-mail address too. 2hot4u@email.com isn’t going to impress a lot of people when you enter the workforce.

How to Use Social Media Properly

It only takes one inappropriate photo or internet rant to ruin a teen’s reputation or a young adult’s career. Privacy settings give teens a false sense of security on social media. Schools and parents should remind teens and young adults that they never know who can see what they’re doing online. They may think only their friends can see an inappropriate post, but if a friend shares the post or tells someone else about it, it could soon be out there for all the world to see. There are real consequences for improper social media use. Teens need to make sure that when they post online they’re doing so safely and with their future in mind. A half-naked duck lips pose may be cool now, but an employer might not think it’s so great five or ten years down the road.

How to Survive a Boring Job

Most people have held at least one unsatisfying job in their lifetime. Sometimes jobs, especially entry-level jobs, aren’t very exciting. High schools do a great job of getting teens excited about entering the workforce and earning money, but they don’t focus enough on the realities of entering the workforce. Teens need to learn how to put a smile on their face and get the work done, to focus on bigger goals rather than the task at hand, and to stick it out at a job until something better comes along. Having money coming in from a boring job is better than having no money coming in at all.

All About Taxes

It’s hard for the average American to understand taxes, but teens should have a basic understanding of what taxes are. If they make $10/hour, they’re not going to take home $10/hour and they’ll need to adjust for that. High school math class is the perfect place to introduce teens to sales tax, income tax, social security tax, and the other taxes they’ll have to pay in life, as well as how to file their taxes.

How to Open and Manage a Checking Account

Chances are teens and young adults aren’t going to be conducting transactions in cash for the rest of their lives. At some point they’ll need to open a checking account and deposit money into that account. When they do, they’ll need to know about any fees associated with the account, how to check the balance on the account and make sure they account for all of the purchases. They’ll also need to know how to access money in the account and learn not to write checks or try to swipe their debit cards if the money isn’t there.

How to Create a Budget

Financial experts such as Dave Ramsey advocate the value of a monthly budget, and with good reason. A monthly budget helps a person know what is coming in and what is coming out. It also encourages them to live within their means. Teens can start budgeting in high school. Once they see how much they spend a month on coffee, clothes, and fast food, they may start to understand the value of a dollar and start making changes to stretch their budget further.

How to Rent an Apartment and Set Up Utilities

Many teens think they’ll just move out when they turn eighteen, but when they actually look at the cost of an apartment, they realize it’s more expensive than they thought. A good math lesson for teens would be to have them sit down and figure out the average cost of an apartment, furniture, and all related utilities. Teens should also be taught that things like water, electricity, gas, cable, and internet are not free. Someone has to pay for them. Once they learn the cost of living on their own, more teens may be anxious to stay home a little longer or get a few roommates to help offset the cost.

Tipping Etiquette

In many restaurants, servers hate when a group of teens or college students are seated in their section because they’re likely to leave a horrible tip. Teens should be taught the concept of tipping and how to calculate a basic tip. Rather than going into a restaurant with $20 and spending the full $20 on the meal. they should be taught to budget the tip into the amount they plan to spend so they don’t stiff the server, the hairdresser, the valet, or anyone else who deserves a tip.

Babies Require More Time and Care Than You Think

Many high schools have students take home the computerized babies that cry throughout the night and are fed and changed with the twist of a key. While these babies help teens get a glimpse of what having a baby is like, they don’t come anywhere close to the reality of what raising a baby is really like. No matter what your individual views on premarital sex are, schools and parents should do more to help teens learn how much time, energy, and money it really takes to raise a baby and encourage them to make wise decisions to avoid getting pregnant before they’re ready for the responsibility.

A Boyfriend/Girlfriend isn’t Everything

If you spend any time around a large group of teenagers, you know how much time they spend focused on young love. Many teens are focused on finding someone to date, getting kissed for the first time, and making sure they impress their significant other. While some couples who meet in high school do go on to get married, most don’t last more than a few months. Rather than putting so much time, energy, and emotion into relationships, teens should be encouraged to invest that same time and energy into a worthy cause. Volunteer. Help other people. Start a business. Make something of yourself. Don’t base your self-worth on your relationship status.

How to Protect Yourself

As teens gain their independence, they start to stay out later at night, broaden their social circle, and take more risks. As they do, they may put themselves into dangerous situations. Knowing basic self-defense skills and having a plan for who to contact in an emergency can help teens when they get into trouble.

It’s Okay if You’re Not Cool

Many teens desire to be part of the cool crowd. They want to fit in, wear the latest fashions, and have tons of friends. To do this, they often sacrifice their own needs and desires. Teachers and parents should encourage teens to do what they love and focus on what they want to do, not to do things because others will think they’re cool. They’ll be much happier in the long run.

Give Yourself Permission to take Risks

What better time to take risks than when you’re a teenager or young adult with little responsibility? Teens should be encouraged to skydive, travel across the country, take that crazy volunteer position halfway around the world, and make spur of the moment decisions. It might be harder to do later.

Choose Joy

Life is stressful and comes with its fair share of challenges. It’s easy to become negative and feel like things will never get better. However, you don’t have to let the struggles of life get you down. Teens should be encouraged to choose joy, to look for the bright side in every situation and figure out a way to get ahead rather than being mired down in negativity. Joy is not the same as happiness. You may not be happy all the time, but you can choose to look beyond your circumstances.

Is there anything you’d add to this list? While schools may not implement many of these lessons into their curriculum parents and teachers can take time to impart them to students in other ways so that they’re better prepared to face the world after high school.

For more life skills worksheets and resources for teens, check out Help Teaching’s Life Skills and Study Skills printable pages. We’re adding worksheets to them on a regular basis.

The Importance of Teaching Personal Finance

The Importance of Teaching Personal Finance
Most students are required to take advanced math courses at the secondary level, but those courses often fail to teach the basics of personal finance. With credit card use and student loan debt at an all-time high, it’s important that students are aware of how to manage their money.

Budgeting

Help teens create their own budget and hold them accountable for the purchases they make.

Being able to budget is an essential skill. Whether you are managing time, responsibilities, or money, exceeding your available resources will lead to difficulties rather quickly. Help Teaching’s Budgeting Activity leads students on a brief tour of Peter’s life as he tries to reign in his spending in the face of increasing expenses. This worksheet can be used to teach simple finance, the more advanced concept of scarcity, or as a metaphor for key life skills.

Along with the budgeting worksheet, help teens create their own budgets and hold them accountable for the purchases they make. They may not have to provide for their basic needs, but they can budget for music, apps, clothes, fast food, and other entertainment expenses.

Apps such as SmartyPig or iAllowance may also be useful tools when it comes to helping kids learn to budget and handle their money more effectively.

Credit Cards

Teens are being targeted by credit card companies much more frequently than in the past. Being able to understand the impact credit debt can have and the proper way to take advantage of credit are essential skills for any young adult.

It’s important that students understand how to build a good credit history. Use the Narrative Procedure organizer to list and explain the 3 C’s of credit. Use the Cause and Effect chart to display how bad credit decisions can have effect on your life years afterwards.

One engaging way to teach the different uses of credit cards is to compare and contrast different credit cards with a Venn Diagram. Have your students choose one cash back credit card and a card that accumulates miles for travel to see that cards can be beneficial if used properly.

Thirteen.org’s It Costs What?! game and iGrad’s Credit Card Simulator are great ways to run students through credit card simulators where they must choose the best credit card and learn about using credit cards responsibly at the same time. While Frontline’s series of episodes, The Card Game, introduces students to the credit card industry and make the dangers of credit cards clear.

Long Term, High Principal Borrowing

Everyone will need to borrow money at some point in their life, some as early as 17 when they are responsible for student loans to secure tuition for college. Understanding interest rates, payment schedules, terms, and balloon payments are very important to making prompt and reliable payments and not owing more than you can afford. Many websites offer loan calculators to see how much that loan will really cost you.

SaveAndInvest.org offers its own selection of videos and worksheets designed to help teens understand borrowing and the cost of debt.

Investment Options

There are so many ways to grow your money, but many students are unaware of their options. Kids receive saving bonds or use a passbook saving account when they are young, but as they become adults those are not the only viable investment options. Help Teaching has an activity that will start them on the road to identifying investment options that will lead into a deeper research project.

Students can head to TheMint.org, too, to help them learn more about how to start building financial security today. This includes making investments and learning how to manage their money so it can work for them in the future.

Retirement

Students are rarely aware of the tenuous nature of Social Security. They know even less about pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s. Beginning to save for retirement immediately upon finding a job is extremely important, but that urgency is unknown to teens. A simple but effective KWL chart can be a good introduction to retirement savings. Filling in the gaps of their knowledge can save them a lot of trouble forty years in the future.

Of course, it’s never too early for students to start saving for retirement either. Dave Ramsey’s article on How Teens Can Become Millionaires may help motivate students to seriously start thinking about how money connects to their future.

For more great suggestions on personal finance and other essential skills students need, check out 9 Life Skills Every Teens Needs. So many of us come out of high school barely able to write a check. Going through these concepts in personal finance can put a young adult on a much less tenuous road to financial stability.

5 Reasons to Reconsider Vocational Education

5 Reasons to Reconsider Vocational Education
Employers are facing a major skills gap. It’s a problem that exists around the world. As more students pursue four-year degrees, the numbers of those entering the technical trades has started to dwindle. These trades include jobs such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and even cosmetologists. While these careers may not represent those students traditionally consider, they offer plenty of opportunities to earn an honest income. They’re also in high-demand. As state and local education departments begin to devote more time and money to creating new career and technical education centers, it’s time for everyone else to take a second look at vocational education.

Technical Trades are in High Demand
Did you know that demand for cosmetologists is expected to rise by 20% between 2008 and 2018? The same is true for plumbing, which is expected to grow by 22% by 2022, and for electricians. Even as the world becomes more complex and focused on technology, people still need those skilled in the trades to complete a variety of tasks.

Vocational Training is Inexpensive
The increasing cost of college has many students looking for less expensive options. Often, obtaining vocational training costs much less and takes less time than a traditional four-year degree. While the average starting salary for a graduate of a trade school may be less than a graduate with a four-year degree, when you add in the difference in cost and the potential for future earnings, taking the trade school route may seem more appealing.

There is Opportunity for Advancement
Many who go into vocational trades do not remain in lower-level positions for the duration of their career. In fact, once they get some experience under their belts, many start their own businesses and begin to hire and manage employees of their own. Those who opt not to go out on their own can still advance to supervisory and management positions within their companies. If they are laid off from a company, it’s often much easier to find another job than with less technical career paths.

Technical Skills Save You Money
Even if students do not pursue a career in a technical field, just having technical skills can benefit them in life. Think about the amount of money you spend to fix a plumbing problem. Now imagine how much you’d save if you could fix that problem yourself. Those who know a technical trade can save themselves and their family members a lot of money by doing high-priced repairs themselves. A carpenter can save a lot of money by doing remodeling work. A cosmetologist can save money by doing family members’ hair.

Some students even use the technical skills they’ve learned in high school to help them pay for a four-year degree in another area. For example, a student with culinary arts skills can work as a cook or even run a culinary business while going to school. A student with carpentry skills can work construction jobs in the summer to help pay for school in the fall.

Technical Skills Benefit Companies
Even if students opt to pursue a degree in another field, having technical skills can help them when they enter the workforce. For example, in STEM fields, understanding the principals of electricity or drafting can help students develop stronger technologies. Knowing how to read and take apart technical texts can also be beneficial when it comes to reading business manuals and understanding complex systems in the workplace.

At Help Teaching, we are well aware of the benefits of vocational education. That’s why we’ve made a commitment to developing materials related to some of the most popular vocational trades. Visit our Vocational Education page to find worksheets related to the following careers and skills:

Watch for more subject areas, such as auto body and welding, coming soon as our vocational education offerings expand.

Do you teach vocational education or have you seen the benefits of technical training firsthand? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

9 Life Skills Every Teen Needs

Life Skills Every Teen Needs
Teens can accomplish more with their phones in an hour than most people can accomplish in a week. However, while technology moves us forward, basic life skills are slowly fading into the background. Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, along with other social media tools, make it so easy for teens to interact with people from the comfort of their homes that in-person job interviews or public speaking tasks seem daunting. And with banking apps to help manage our finances, it’s easy to see why many young people don’t know how to write a check or balance a checkbook. Still, basic life skills, which include managing a bank account, writing a resume, or understanding how a paycheck works, are as important today as they were 20 years ago.

Help Teaching offers worksheets on the following topics to help teenagers understand, learn, and remember the basic life skills they need before entering adulthood:

#1. Driving and Safety

Knowing driving laws plays a big role when it comes to driving safely. Being a defensive driver – doing everything to avoid an accident – is also essential when on the roads. Once teens get a driver’s license, it is imperative that they stay within legal speed limits, obey the rules of the road, and keep their seat belts on at all times. The Driving and Safety worksheet is a great reminder that driving correctly isn’t only important for the driver and his passengers, but for all of the motorists on the road.

#2.  Managing bank accounts

It’s not difficult to open a bank account, but it isn’t always easy to maintain one.  Our Understanding Checks and Bank Accounts worksheet covers what teens need to know in order to manage their money in high school and beyond. It touches on understanding the difference between a checking and savings account, discovering how interest works, learning how to withdraw and deposit money, and keeping a checkbook up to date.  Teens may not realize that balancing a checkbook isn’t always easy — it takes discipline and time.

#3. Filling Out a Check

While teenagers have seen parents or other adults write checks, many do not know how to write one out on their own. It’s important for teenagers with checking accounts to know how the process works.  The Understanding Checks and Bank Accounts worksheet refers to important details, such as filling out a check, where to find the routing, account, and check numbers, and where to sign a check.

#4. Writing Resumes and Cover Letters

A resume is a summary of work experience, skills, and education, and can be utilized even if an applicant doesn’t have much of a work history. Help Teaching’s Resumes and Cover Letters worksheet addresses what type of content is needed to make a good impression on a potential employer. Items such as professional quality, easy to read content, and error-free grammar and spelling are a must. It also touches on the need for cover letters to be tailored to each job application, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

#5. Searching for a job

Finding the right job takes time, knowledge of labor laws, and some detective work. This process can be frustrating for anyone, but our worksheet The Job Search provides tips and guidance on how to proceed. Items such as networking, when to apply, what jobs to apply for, and age limits are covered.

#6. Job Applications

Job applications are generally used for all places of employment. Deciding what information to have on hand, or knowing what should be filled out on the application can be daunting to someone just starting the job search.  The Filling Out a Job Application worksheet touches on what is important when applying for a job. Employers need easy to remember items such as name, address, and phone numbers, but can also require information not known offhand, like a social security number, emergency contacts, or former supervisors’ information. The worksheet also discusses what to do if there is no work history to include on an application, such as preparing a list of skills that can go a long way to impress a hiring manager.

#7. Job Interviews

Once the application has been received, a personal interview is the next step. Help Teaching’s Life Skills worksheet The Job Interview recognizes how intimidating it can be to meet with a potential employer. It can be difficult think quickly when nervous, or to answer questions on the spot, so it is wise to be prepared before going in the interview room. First impressions are key and things like being on time, what kind of clothing is worn, and overall demeanor can be the defining factors in getting the job or being passed over.  Knowing what skills are outstanding, what skills need improved, and having questions ready for the hiring manager will make a positive impression.

#8. Understanding your paychecks and taxes

Once a job is obtained, our website’s worksheet Paychecks and Taxes can help guide employees through the ins and outs of deductions and taxes. For teenagers and young adults, often the number on that eagerly awaited first paycheck is not nearly as high as had hoped.  This worksheet discusses 401 K, the difference between net and gross pay, overtime, and benefits on a paycheck. It also introduces topics such as tax forms, dependents, Social Security, and Medicare.

#9. Credit Card Management

When that paycheck begins to come regularly, a credit card may be desired. Without out the right knowledge, it’s easy to fall into credit card debt. Anyone under the age of 21 must have a co-signer to obtain a credit card, unless they can prove they have a five-figure income. Our worksheet Understanding Credit Cards discusses how credit cards work and how to manage them. It refers to credit scores, credit history, and payments, along with APR and interest fees.

The amount of knowledge teens and young adults have with basic life skills is often taken for granted.  As a result, many go out into the real world not knowing how to write a check, use a credit card wisely, or even remember basic driving skills. Teachers can use the Life Skills worksheets in any high school or higher grade level. Some worksheets such as Understanding Checks Bank Accounts can be used for early high school, and even middle school. Find more life skills worksheets at HelpTeaching.com.

 

Now Hiring: Jobs for Grads in a Gig Economy

Now Hiring Jobs for Grads in a Gig Economy Today’s jobs look nothing like they did 20, or even 10, years ago. Gone is the age of the cubicle. Now workplaces feature open offices and flexible schedules with telecommuting options. Even the traditional look of a career has changed. While it’s still possible to get that 40 hour a week job with vacation and benefits, many employers and job-seekers have started to look for something a little less formal and a lot less permanent. The result is the rise of the gig economy.

What is the Gig Economy?

Essentially, a gig economy is just like it sounds. Workers make money through gigs. For example, if a band is booked to play a show (a gig), then the members of the band get paid. However, a gig economy goes beyond the field of music. Today, many job seekers make a living through a series of gigs. They code apps and develop websites. They take photographs and create advertisements. They mow lawns and complete odd jobs. They develop assessment items and tutor students. They take on cases as lawyers and help sell real estate. They upcycle furniture and sew dresses. They work as entrepreneurs, freelancers, temporary workers, and independent contractors.

The difference between a gig economy job and a standard job is that a gig economy job is less permanent. Some gigs may be recurring, offering workers a steady paycheck and income they can depend on. Most, however, are one-time deals. Companies that cannot afford to hire a full-time employee or may not have a need for an employee once a project is complete may hire temporary workers to get the job done. Workers who crave flexibility and do not want to be tied down to one job can get a variety of experiences and, often, set their own schedules.

According to the annual Freelancing in America survey, nearly 35 percent of the workforce is choosing to participate in the gig economy, either full-time, part-time, or as a second career. As many industries face cutbacks and the number of full-time jobs available for graduates continues to decrease, many new college grads and other job seekers are finding hope in the gig economy.

Things to Consider with a Gig Economy

Now-Hiring-Jobs-for-Grads-in-a-Gig-Economy-QuestionsOf course embracing the gig economy isn’t for everyone and it comes with its own sets of challenges. While the gig economy can provide workers with a flexible work schedule and the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, it can also lead to an unpredictable income and problems maintaining a work-life balance.  Those thinking about the gig economy should consider a few questions before getting to work.

  1. How will I find work?
    One of the biggest challenges of working in the gig economy is finding work. Essentially, workers start their own business and develop a roster of clients who provide them with tasks to complete. When you first start out, it may be difficult to get work. However, the more time you spend in the field and making connections, the more opportunities you’re likely to get.
  2. What are some ways I can monetize my skills?
    Working in the gig economy is all about finding non-traditional ways to earn money. Sometimes the jobs being offered do not mirror more traditional positions. Think about the skills that you have and make a list of all the ways you could possibly use those skills. Maybe you’re good at making quilts, but the market for selling quilts is not very large. Could you monetize your skills by making quilted potholders en masse or teaching a quilting class at a local craft store? Maybe your skill involves driving people around all day. While you could work for a ride-sharing service, you may have more luck finding a regular job driving a senior citizen to appointments or to the grocery store.
  3. Can I manage multiple projects at once? If so, how many?
    When you work in a traditional job, you often only handle one or two projects at a time. However, when you work independently, you may have multiple clients. Each client will have a different set of standards and expectations and most of them won’t be very understanding if you get those standards and expectations mixed up. To work in a gig economy, you must be organized and able to multi-task. You also need to learn your limits.
  4. Do I want to work full-time? Part-time? Just in my spare time?
    With the gig economy, you have a lot of control over how much you work. Think about the skills you have and how you can monetize them. Can you make enough money to work full-time? If not, would it be better to pick up a part-time job and take on gigs part-time as well? Maybe you want to take on a full-time job in your field and pick up gigs on the side as a way of earning extra money. Some people start taking on gigs while working a full-time job, and then eventually leave the full-time job to work full-time in the gig economy. Others only work in the gig economy on a very part-time basis. What you decide to do is up to you.
  5. How will I pay for insurance? Save for retirement? Pay taxes?
    Traditional jobs often come with insurance and other benefits. They also automatically take taxes out of your paycheck. In the gig economy, you often become responsible for all of those tasks. When you determine how often you want to work and how much money you need to make from your gigs, you must consider the cost of insurance, saving for retirement, and paying for taxes. The cost of these items helps determine whether you can be successful in a gig economy.
  6. What happens if I get sick or need to take extended time off?
    Jobs in the gig economy often don’t come with paid sick days or vacation time. If you get sick and can’t meet a deadline, a client may decide to take his/her business elsewhere. Regularly cancelling gigs or failing to complete projects on time can make it harder to get new work. Plus, when you take time off, you don’t get paid. If you rely on the gig economy as your main source of income, you must be prepared for sick days, time off for vacation, and even lulls in your workload during the year. For example, you may get fewer gigs during the holiday season as companies take time off to celebrate.
  7. How will I pay for my equipment?
    If you work in a traditional job, chances are your company will provide you with most of the equipment you need. When you work independently, not so much. Do you need a computer? Specialized software? A printer and ink? These expenses are your responsibility. When you price your gigs, you need to take this into consideration.
  8. What if I take on a bad gig?
    Working in the gig economy comes with a lot of risks. When you work independently, you often aren’t covered by the same rules and regulations that you’re covered by in the workplace. This means that clients may make unreasonable demands on your time, may not pay you a fair rate, or may not pay you at all. Are you prepared to handle any of these events should they happen? Do you know the legal aspects of the field you plan to work in?
  9. Am I willing to invest the time and effort it takes to make it work?
    When it comes to working in the gig economy, some people get lucky and work just falls into their laps. For most people, however, finding work and managing your workload requires a lot of time and effort. You must be willing to put yourself out there, take risks, and apply for a lot of jobs. You must be willing to figure out how much to charge for your work and not give up when times get tough.

How to Find Work in the Gig Economy
Now-Hiring-Jobs-for-Grads-in-the-Gig-Economy-ResumeOne of the biggest challenges in a gig economy is finding work. Before looking for work, make a list of all of the jobs you’re qualified to do and include 1-2 reasons you’re qualified to do them. This will help you in your search for new work. Once you know what you want to do, you can start exploring opportunities. Remember, you don’t have to find a full-time job. While the gig economy can be a great alternative for full-time employment, it’s also a great way to earn some extra money while going to school, working part-time, or being employed in another career.

To find work in a gig economy, consider the following options:

  1. Ask family and friends for help. They may have odd jobs that need completed, or they may be able to connect you with others who need help. Just put yourself out there and ask. You never know what connections you might make.
  2. Contact companies directly. Is there a company you’d like to work for? First, visit their website to see if they have any job openings. You can also conduct a Google search to see if they have any job listings on other sites. Once you’ve done that, consider sending a letter to the company that describes your services and how you think you can help them.
  3. Create a profile on a website focused on helping people find gigs. Some sites to consider include Fiverr and Upwork. You can also look in the gigs section of Craigslist, but use caution when responding to listings.
  4. Look for companies that rely solely on independent contractors or temporary employees. Think beyond companies like Uber or Lyft. For example, you might want to make deliveries for Postmates or Instacart, or rent out your car with Getaround or Turo.
  5. Set up your own online store with sites such as Etsy, Shopify, or eBay. You may also find a place at local co-ops that cater to small businesses or pop-up shops.
  6. Create your own website. Think of it as a virtual resume. On your website you can advertise your services and your qualifications. People looking for your services in your area can find you through your site.

Whether you’re just graduating from high school or college or want to make a change in careers, you may find that working in the gig economy is the solution. Also, don’t forget to check out our 10 Money-Making Ideas for Teachers and Parents to find additional ways to make money in the gig economy.