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A student’s guide to creative part-time work

Photo by Tina Wallace

For most students, part-time work can be hard to find and difficult to maintain while juggling lectures, study sessions, and extracurricular activities. With the thousands of work-hungry students in Ottawa, the idea of job-hunting seems more scary than graduating. Check out these side-job ideas to make some dough without sweating over a deep fryer or folding t-shirts for hours.

Bar gigging

For more musical, creative types, bar gigging is a popular choice for people looking to make a quick buck. The bar gig is a perfect side job for students because it offers work in short bursts of three to four hours and doesn’t require us to schedule off time for trips or exams. Depending on the bar, you might be able to play an entire set with house gear, which means no lugging your dad’s Les Paul on the bus.

Many bars look for candidates with a lengthy repertoire of songs and an ability to perform an adequate amount of requests, which is why most musicians you see working the ByWard bar scene have a trusty songbook filled with lyrics and chords. If you are having trouble finding bars willing to hire you or if you aren’t used to rocking out in front of a crowd, open mics are an essential stepping stone for budding musicians. They provide you with a slot of one to three songs and give you a real taste of what it’ll be like as a bar musician.

Burlesque dancing

Try your hand at becoming the next Dita Von Teese and make some extra cash while you’re at it. There are many adult entertainment groups in Ottawa that hold paid amateur hours between sets in the ByWard Market. Amateur hour is usually a period of 60 to 80 minutes that pays novice burlesque dancers (male or female) to shake their stuff on stage to a two-to three-minute song of their choice. Sin Sisters is an established Ottawa burlesque troop that’ll pay you to dance on stage. And there is no obligation to get completely in the buff.

Guinea pig

If you’re too busy with school to work the classic nine-to-five job and you’re too shy to try out one of the more ambitious side jobs on this list, congratulations! You are eligible to participate as a guinea pig for the many psychology experiments that take place at the University of Ottawa’s science department. Between online surveys and two-week exercise regiments, there are many paid trials that take place during the school year. There is no harm in signing up for one of these experiments, and when you do, you are under no obligation to continue beyond your own comfort level. You can find this type of work on the back of washroom doors and plastered all over faculty corkboards. While it’s fairly unorthodox work, it beats searching under your couch cushions for laundry money.

Edit and proofread

Most of us have been doing this essay-writing  thing for a while. Why not make some money off of your skills? Post on your Facebook, Twitter, and blogs that you’re willing to do substantial editing or proofreading for students in need. Charge an hourly rate or by length of the paper. Either way it’s a simple method to make some extra cash for your weekend adventures. Just don’t let it detract from your own homework.