Gig work, also called your “side gig” or “side hustle” can be a great way to supplement your income. Some people even build their side gig into a full-time business. And like all forms of conducting business, there are practices that may be legal, but are not honest or a decent way to treat other people. Here are just a few practices to avoid.
Re-selling free items from “helping hands” or other need focused groups
Flipping a free item you found on a general “buy, sell, or trade” group is perfectly acceptable. If someone has posted a general classified ad that reads, “Free couch, just need to clear space so we can bring in our new one,” and you take that couch, use a three dollar stain remover to get rid of a slight coffee stain, add two six dollar throw pillows, and sell it for a hundred dollars, you made a nice…and perfectly ethical…profit.
The ethical issue arises when someone is posting in a group intended to help those in need get the items they lack. If you join “Helping Hands Here,” find someone who is offering a couch to a household that cannot afford to pay for basic furniture, take the couch, and sell it as your side hustle, that is dishonest. You misrepresented yourself and lied about your situation in order to get that couch.
The same applies to items received from a food pantry or soup kitchen or other organization that has given you something to meet a need. If you receive food you can’t eat or a toy your child won’t play with or some clothing that does not fit, give it to someone who can use it, free…just as it was given to you.
Asking people to give you a five star rating
The constant rating on those gig work platforms is obnoxious for both the worker and the customer. I’m a regular customer with Instacart, and a regular, if infrequent user of Uber and Uber Eats. On Tutorme, I’m a gig worker. As a customer, I give everyone a five star rating unless they did something dangerous or practically threw something at me. There just isn’t an average, below average, great, or absolutely dazzling way for somebody to drive me to the store to pick up office supplies or drop off the chicken riggies I ordered for dinner or the milk, cereal, and drinks I needed for the week. And as much as it would make me feel good about myself to think otherwise, I doubt me spending twenty minutes going over some college student’s essay and suggesting they revise paragraph two but leave the rest in the final draft is truly a five star learning experience for this person.
Still, as silly as they can be, asking for a five star rating can make the customer a bit uncomfortable. It’s just awkward. Your best practice is to provide the best service you can provide, and let the customer choose their own way to handle the rating system.
Trying to make your customers into something other than customers
Relationships have formed during gig work. People have met future romantic partners, good friends, and people who would later be important professional contacts outside the gig work through their gig work. But the platform you use to do your gig work is not designed for you to create these relationships.
If you’re single, your Uber or Lyft driver account is not a dating app. A customer you find attractive may be unavailable, not interested in dating for another reason, or just not interested in being hit on at that moment, and might report you for asking them out on a date or flirting. If you’re happily coupled, the people who get in your car for a ride or chat with you while you bring their takeout or groceries into their building are not there to provide you with a pool of potential babysitters so you and your man or woman can go out this weekend. The person on your tutoring app asking for help writing a paper for their class on interior design did not log on so you could turn on your webcam, swing your computer around, and ask them which chair would go best with the couch you just bought. Friendly, polite chat to help the person feel at ease is fine, but keep the focus on the service you are providing for them.
Taking the “side” in “side hustle” or “side gig” a bit TOO far
Your side gig/side hustle should absolutely come last in your work priorities. Your career, the work you are called to do is going to be your first professional priority. Steady employment that pays your bills is either also first or second, depending on what that work may be. Side hustles come last. They’re supplemental income.
This means you can schedule your side gig work after all other work has been done. It means you can refuse to give up anything, and only work your side hustle when you have absolutely nothing else to do if you want to. It doesn’t mean it’s okay to do the work in a way that wastes other peoples’ time, energy, or money or puts them in an unsafe situation.
Talking on the phone when you have customers in your ride share car, tutoring online while watching television, or showing up late to meet someone coming to buy something from you are not okay just because it’s “your side hustle.”
Letting people take unfair advantage of you or make you uneasy
Behaviors that are unethical or bad form for you as a side gig worker are equally unacceptable when you are on the receiving end. You are not obligated to keep dealing with someone who lies about an emergency to get you to give them something free or at a reduced cost. Customers should not threaten you with a lower rating, or make you feel uneasy with overly personal requests. You don’t have to put up with people who make you wait an overly long time, or refuse to pay attention and allow you to do your job.
This is not to suggest that you start fighting anyone. If anything out of line happens, terminate the transaction as fast as you can, report the situation if you need to, and avoid working with the person again, if at all possible.
Like any work, managing a side gig takes some practice. Nobody is going to do a perfect job all the time. But there are some behaviors that, while they may not get you fired or reprimanded, are not ethical. They’re not the way anyone, including your customers…or you… deserve to be treated.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
We have all heard those stories “everyone” swears are true. Occasionally, they do turn out to be true. Most of the time, they turn out to be the result of poor research, or intentionally invented or exaggerated. A few of these tales and claims revolve around making or saving money.
Urban Legend: You can start with a penny or a paperclip and trade up to things like cars and houses.
Reality: This has been done. Beginning in 2005, Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald set out to trade a red paperclip he found on his desk for a house by gradually trading up. He swapped the paperclip for a pen, and kept trading and making deals until he had his house. YouTuber Ryan Trahan has successfully duplicated this experiment this past year, starting with a penny, and trading up until he owned a tiny home.
The process just isn’t as easy or as fast as it appears to be. The original challenge took an entire year to complete. Trahan often does his trade ups in the span of a week, but he uses his status as a content creator with a strong following to help with his trades. People participate because they recognize him from YouTube and want to be included in the video. This is fine, and actually makes the videos fun to watch. But the experience is likely to be a bit more of a struggle for those without a large established following.
Urban Legend: Dollar General puts items on sale for as little as a penny.
Reality: While penny items have been found at Dollar General stores, this is the result of a mistake, not a sale. Items that ring up for a penny have already been discounted as much as the store allows, and were supposed to be cleared from the sales floor.
Employees do not know which items may have been missed and are ringing up for a penny. They are not allowed to help customers search for penny items, or allow them to go back and grab another pile of merchandise should they find something that rings up for a penny. The best way to stumble upon penny items is to learn the season and discount codes from the tags, and select the oldest, most out of date pieces in the store. But there is no guarantee any of these will ring up for a penny, and if something should, the staff will be required to remove all other items from the floor.
Consider yourself blessed if something in your Dollar General haul rings up for a penny. But don’t show up at Dollar General stores and make a mess digging through sale items, make the cashier ring up items and then say you don’t want them when they don’t ring up for a penny, or demand the staff sell you something for a penny because you heard about someone else getting that item for a single cent.
Urban Legend: You can get anything you want for a fraction of the price by charging it on a credit card, then sending in a small payment with “paid in full” written on the check.
Reality: This will absolutely never work. The urban legend seems to have originated because it is possible, in some situations, to settle debt for less than what you owe. But this only happens if both parties agree to it. Both the credit card company and the customer would have to agree to discharge the debt for only a few dollars, and put it in writing, for this to happen.
Credit card companies are corporations. They exist to turn a profit. Nobody working for any credit card company in America would have a job the next hour, never mind the next day, if they allowed a customer to charge up a credit card, and then wrote off the entire balance upon receiving a check for a fraction of that amount with “paid in full” written on it. Charging $1,000 on your credit card, sending the company $10, and writing “paid in full” on the memo line will get you a $990 credit card balance…plus interest if you don’t send in the rest of that $990 before the next billing cycle.
Urban Legend: If you follow the example of many millionaires and set up seven income streams, you too will become a millionaire.
Reality: The “millionaires have seven income streams, so seven income streams is the path to being a millionaire” legend emerged from a misunderstanding of the term “income stream.” Millionaires have too much money for it to just sit around in a bank. They have professionals invest their money for them, in stocks, real estate, bonds, and CDs. These three forms of large scale investment alone count as three streams. Capital gains from selling off assets counts as a fourth. Any royalties the millionaire may be entitled to counts as stream number five. Profits from businesses they own is number six. Their paycheck is stream number seven.
If you already have the funds to make these major investments and earn income from capital gains, the rights to something that pays you more than a few dollars here and there in royalties, and a business that is turning a profit, maintaining all of these income streams may indeed be your key to becoming a millionaire. And there is certainly nothing wrong with getting started on all of these on a smaller scale. But making money from seven different places will not automatically result in great wealth.
Working two part-time minimum wage jobs to equal forty hours per week, going back and forth between driving for Uber or Lyft on Saturday, using two of those “points for internet searches” programs to earn the occasional ten dollar gift card, and selling makeup to your sister and cousin through direct sales adds up to seven income streams, and for a lot of people that would barely cover the bills plus earn them a few free items, never mind generate millions.
Urban Legend: You can save money by making all of your own cosmetics.
Reality: Creating items like eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, and eyeshadow is a complicated process. By the time you purchase the equipment and the ingredients needed to make a single item, you will have spent more than if you just bought the same thing from a high end brand. Getting around this by using one or two non-cosmetic items in place of makeup, such as spices for eye shadow, does not always work, and may cause irritation or infection, depending on what is placed too near the eyes or lips.
To truly save money on cosmetics, narrow your routine down to only those items you truly feel you need or want to use. Choose drugstore items, or watch a few videos and read some beauty blogs to learn which less expensive brands offer duplicate shades of your favorite high end products. Wait for sales and use coupons. Some items can be made at home to save money, but makeup, hair color, and many skincare products are better purchased premade from a store or salon.
Did you believe any of these money making or saving urban legends? What others are floating around out there?
As earning a living has become more of a challenge for many, jobs in the “gig economy” are increasingly common. In addition to being a freelance, or independent, artist, we can now hire ourselves out as independent contractor delivery drivers, transportation providers, or personal shoppers. If driving, spending long periods of time out of the house, or approaching strangers’ homes presents an obstacle for you, or if you’re not already a driver or retail worker and you want to do something within your field, tutoring online may also be an option. Here are some tips on getting started.
Look for U.S. based, multi-subject tutoring websites that are currently accepting new tutors.
Due to a hastily enacted law in China, opportunities to teach English as a Second Language to Chinese children online are pretty much gone. The law, in part, forbids foreign workers from conducting business inside China. And while you were of course never truly in China when you taught online, the government counts visiting the country virtually, via webcam, as conducting business inside China. Many of the well known companies may still exist, and may even appear to be hiring tutors, but the most you would be able to do is sell pre-recorded lessons. The income potential simply isn’t there anymore. U.S. based sites pay a bit less, but once accepted to one, you will have access to their platform and be able to accept tutoring sessions and/or clients.
Schedule a couple of “just looking around” days at first.
As with the shopping, driving, and delivery gig work, gig work in tutoring is pretty straightforward. You use their platform to connect with students and to conduct the lessons. Some may require a student to select you and schedule each lesson. Others will allow you to log in and claim lessons students post. Depending on the site, you may have the option of scheduling lessons with specific students or claiming lessons as they come into the website.
Spend a few days learning the format your tutoring platform offers. Make sure you’re reasonably comfortable there, and that the site is easy for you to navigate. Give your first few lessons without setting any goals for the money, and get a picture of how much you might earn during an average lesson. Take note of common issues that come up.
Make safety for you and your family and friends your first priority.
Before tutoring for the first time, check to make sure the company records all lessons for everyone’s comfort and safety.
The only information students need is your knowledge and insight about the subjects you choose to tutor in. There is absolutely no reason why some guy stuck on his Creative Writing class homework needs to ask the poet who’s tutoring him where she lives, where she hangs out offline, or where he can find her online outside of the tutoring website. Nobody needs to know your last name, any of your financial information, or details about your personal life. If anyone requests video or voice tutoring and says or does something unsettling or disgusting, or types something upsetting or threatening in the chat pod, end the lesson and report the person to the company immediately.
Log out of sessions that violate the company’s rules immediately.
Tutoring companies, at least the honest ones, have strict policies about helping students cheat on tests, doing homework for the student, or in any other way helping them plagiarize writing or any other material. If you are tutoring and realize the student is taking a quiz, trying to manipulate or bully you into doing their editing or writing for them, or is adding a few details to a purchased paper, let the student know that this is not what tutoring is intended to do, and log out.
Don’t worry about being rude or hurting the person’s feelings. Chances are, they know what they’re doing, are well aware that a lot of people are going to “hang up” on them, and are just shopping around for that one dishonest tutor willing to pretend they don’t see what’s going on. Even if you aren’t bothered by the idea of helping students cheat academically, remember that the tutoring center can terminate your association with them if they catch you.
Watch out for scammers.
Most tutoring platforms have some type of free communication area. Some have “waiting rooms,” where the student can chat with you free of charge for a few minutes to see if you can help them, and nearly all have some type of messaging system designed to allow the student to arrange lessons. Some students will attempt to ask you specific questions about their work in these areas, in an attempt to get the homework help they need without scheduling a paid lesson. Prompt them to pay for a lesson once. If they ignore you and continue to try to get you to tutor them through a free area, send one last message telling them that you will be online should they decide to schedule a lesson, and log out of the area.
Be prepared to deal with a wide variety of people.
Students may log in from all across the country. Depending on the platform, you may get all grade levels and all skill levels. You will internet meet the most gracious, studious college students, and the ones who clearly got one too many “self-esteem” workshops and just want to sit there while you tell them everything they’re doing is amazing and their teacher is a fool if they don’t give them a hundred for anything they hand in. Some of them will have trouble paying attention, while others are intensely focused on every detail of their work. You’ll deal with people who take an extra minute to thank you, and those who rudely hang up on you when they realize you’re not going to do the work for them.
While leaving any situation that feels dangerous or is truly distressing is something you should absolutely do, a successful tutor is going to be one who can tolerate and/or shrug off typical, expected variations in student attitude and behavior.
Don’t let tutoring take over your life.
One of the drawbacks of the gig economy overall is that because you can work at any time, you feel like you should be working all the time. You develop a tendency to scold yourself with “I could be making money,” anytime you start a little later than usual or take a day off from the gig.
Make a rule that there are certain things you absolutely will not give up to spend the time tutoring. You may decide that…okay…you’ll give up a few evenings of watching TV to tutor, but you will absolutely not reschedule rehearsals with your band or your music practice time for it. Or maybe you need to make a rule that the time you spend with your kids is not to be interrupted with tutoring, but you’ll give up going out with the guys one weekend a month to tutor. Even if you eventually turn your tutoring practice into a full-time business, everyone needs time off.
Don’t count on the money from one tutoring platform, even if it seems to be going well during your “looking around” period.
People who build gig work into a full-time, or steady part-time business either do it the old-fashioned way, by creating and marketing a service in their community, or they take on a variety of “gig” jobs, and treat each service like just one tool in their overall business plan. They drive for both Uber and Lyft or deliver meals for DoorDash and GrubHub. Gig job platforms are just too overcrowded with workers to offer consistently reliable work.
Tutoring online is no different. Sticking to one platform, I started tutoring online on November 17, 2021. By November 26, I had earned $117.00 My first month’s total was $318.00. My most recent paycheck as of the time of this writing was $10.40 for the entire week.
Unless you’re planning to use online tutoring gig work to supplement a larger tutoring business, it can really only be counted on for extra cash, or for small, short term goals, such as earning the money to make a special purchase, pay a single unexpected bill, or pay for your family vacation or Christmas shopping later this year.
Joining the gig economy as a tutor has its challenges and drawbacks, but it can be a flexible and reasonably fast way to earn some extra cash while doing something that serves others. As with all gig work, it requires a lot of hard work and is far from a get rich quick scheme. Time, effort, realistic expectations, and reasonable limits are the keys to success.
Resolutions almost always fail. Most of them are made more to go along with tradition than to make real, necessary changes. And they are rarely backed up by plans. Instead of making resolutions, why not try setting goals for 2022? By now, most of us have heard of the SMART method for setting goals. Created by consultant George T. Doran in 1981, this goal checklist began as a way to formulate goals in a corporate environment. Today, we can use his method to set goals for our art practice, second job, side hustle, or personal interests.
Specific goals are more likely to be reached.
One of the problems with resolutions is that they are often vague. “I want to improve my finances” doesn’t really offer anything to work toward. You could be talking about a complete overhaul of your budget, getting an entirely new job, and completely changing your lifestyle and spending habits. Or you could be talking about spending five minutes looking for dropped change and plastic bottles to redeem for dimes.
“My goal is to have an extra hundred dollars after paying all the bills each month,” or “This January, my goal is to rewrite the family budget to allow us to put $200 aside for our summer vacation in July,” are specific financial goals.
Measurable goals encourage you to keep going.
One of the easiest ways to give up on a goal is to lose sight of your progress. Making sure your progress can be measured is one way to keep yourself from losing track of where you are and how much further you need to go. Some goals are measured in an obvious way. If it’s my goal to save $500 in the first six months of the year, I’m going to measure my progress by how much money I have stashed. Other goals aren’t as easy to measure. If my goal is to sing onstage again by the end of July, how do I measure my progress? Will it be measured in the number of people I sing in front of offstage? Will it be measured in the number of songs I learn and rehearse enough to be comfortable performing them onstage? Am I going to set a number of hours to practice each week?
When a goal is achievable, we are less likely to give up out of frustration.
Making our goals achievable isn’t “politically correct” these days. We’re supposed to tell ourselves and each other that we can do anything as long as we put our minds to it, adopt the right attitude, and never give up. But this simply is not true. Everyone has their strengths, weaknesses, things they’re called to do for a living, things that they can do, but will only ever be hobbies, and things they’re terrible at. This includes people you admire, people who seem like they can do “everything,” me, the person next to you, and you.
We also have to take our family, finances, professional obligations, health, and other goals into consideration when setting goals.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t dream, or set far reaching goals, just that they should be something we have the ability to do. Someone who has been playing guitar and singing professionally for twenty years, has been in bands, written songs, and played for live audiences could absolutely set a goal of making an album every other year. Their friend who just picked out their instrument yesterday is probably not going to be ready to be a professional musician in six weeks..
Keeping goals relevant helps us keep going by making the goal part of something already important to us.
Setting meaningless goals just because that’s what everybody else is talking about doing is a surefire way to fail completely. If the goal isn’t meaningful to us in some way, we are likely to honestly not care enough to put in the necessary work to achieve it.
Money saved toward splurging on a designer bag or coat is likely to be spent before it reaches the necessary amount if the saver does not truly enjoy wearing designer labels. Setting a goal to learn a language simply because your family insists it will help your job prospects is more likely to end in a pile of discarded books and software than language proficiency.
Time-specific goals, also called deadlines, prevent excuse making.
Vowing to learn to play the piano, make a new budget, get your house cleaned and painted, or finally get a professional wardrobe put together “someday” leaves an overly easy way out when you don’t do anything. Setting a deadline holds you accountable. If you set a goal to have the living room professionally cleaned and painted by the middle of June, you know you will feel a sense of failure if it’s August seventeenth and you’re still looking at the coffee stains on the carpet and the twenty year old paint on the walls. This wish to avoid that feeling will keep you motivated to keep saving money, clearing out clutter, getting estimates, moving furniture, or any other steps you need to take to achieve that goal.
Forget making new year’s resolutions. Have you set your 2022 goals yet?
by Jess Szabo
Originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
The “What really happens when you apply to 100 jobs” challenge ended with only 25 job applications, but a blessing nonetheless. Here are my final journal entries of the challenge:
Day 15: November 10
This morning I found out I didn’t get the artisanal cheese job. It does stand to reason, since I do not have years of specialty cheese experience.
On a serious note, I put in for another open position at <adult education provider> as a part-time adult literacy instructor., I applied for a very similar position at the beginning of this challenge, and this is one of the few jobs where I have to say, I don’t understand why they completely ignore me.
I don’t mean to sound narcissistic. Most jobs, I can see a reason why I got rejected. The entry level customer service job people don’t want somebody who, on paper, looks like they’re going to have a lot of chances to find something better and quit. A lot of those “writing coach” jobs require you to have a teaching certificate, it’s not just a “preferred” qualification. (I do not have one.) Others seem to want somebody who makes their living as a freelance writer. I barely make spending money as a freelance writer. But I would be almost perfect for a job as an adult literacy instructor. It’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the past six and a half years already.
This application also marks the one quarter of the way finished with the challenge point. I have applied to 25 jobs. So far, all I’ve gotten were “interviews” from places that have a bot automatically schedule an interview anytime somebody applies, and one job offer…..for a temporary holiday cashier position at <big box store>.
November 11: Day 16: No activity
November 12: Day 17
Yesterday this challenge was inactive because there was nothing to do. The number of jobs I can even reasonably apply to is dwindling.
Last night, I did receive another one of those auto responses, this one from a place looking for someone to basically run the laundry service overnight in a nursing home. And the thing that stands out about it is the title, “Laundry Aide.” I’m noticing a lot of that…job titles that sound like one thing, but actually have the job requirements of a very different job.
November 13-15: Days 18-21
These three days can be summed up in one quick entry. Every time I check Indeed, there are fewer and fewer jobs I can even apply for, and the same jobs that I already applied for listed over and over again.
Day 22 November 16, 2021
This is the day the challenge ended. There were no more steady wage or salary paying jobs that I could even feasibly apply to, and I needed to find some side hustle, second job, or other income source.
December 22, 2021: How it ended
The “What really happens when you apply to 100 jobs challenge” ended on November 17, 2021, but the ending had begun to take shape around a week earlier.
Tutorme dot com looked like gig work. Looking over their site, it appeared that working for them meant you had the same job as someone who drives for Uber, delivers for UberEats, DoorDash, or GrubHub, or shops for Instacart. You just offer online tutoring instead of rides, restaurant meal delivery, or grocery shopping and delivery.
Something…the Holy Spirit…just kept telling me to apply anyway. At first, I resisted. I had to be misinterpreting the message. Making money tutoring online seemed impossible. That’s why I made that rule for the challenge. I kept picturing myself working all week and coming away with a dollar. But I just kept getting the message, that little voice that you know is coming from your own thoughts, but feels like a loving parent talking to you, uring me to “Go on…apply to work as a tutor for this company.”
When I prayed about it, I got an even stronger answer…yes…apply. That time, I listened, brought the challenge to a close, and applied for the gig work. By November 17, I was hired, set up, and ready to give the gig economy a shot after all.
I earned my first paycheck on November 26. It was $117.00. My second check on December 3 was for $93. On December 10, I earned $64. The following week, on December 17, I earned my final paycheck for my first full month, $45. I’m rounding of course, but my first month’s income from Tutorme was around $318. I went back just to earn some extra cash and am expecting a deposit today or tomorrow for $17.60. This brings my 2021 total to $336.27.
Earning more would have been possible, but I purposely put tutoring on hold for the year before I reached $400. Once you earn $400, you have to claim it on your taxes. And while I have no problem paying taxes, I am not at all prepared to file freelance income taxes for 2021. If you only have taxed wages, you can file for free at my income level. If you have freelance income, the fee is around $100. I will be fully prepared to pay that next year, when I tutor as a steady side hustle, but the end of 2021 was a trial period for me.
Looking at those numbers so far, online tutoring looks like a strong source of extra or supplemental income. It’s a way to bring in some money to pay that one bill that’s still left after you budget the income from your main source. That $336.27 could be somebody’s electric bill, grocery budget, or the amount they need to put aside for school expenses throughout the year or an emergency fund.
I would like to wish everyone a Blessed and Merry Christmas, and thank all of you for reading the “Library 315” section of Artist Cafe Utica throughout the year. I hope you come back for one last article of 2021, about setting goals for the new year, on December 31. In 2022, look for more about online tutoring, additional challenges, and more free content for and about Utica artists.
In part three of The Challenge that Failed in the Best Possible Way, we finish out the first two full weeks of my “What really happens when you apply to 100 jobs?” challenge.
Day 8 : November 3:
The jobs I can even reasonably apply to are dwindling. I didn’t even apply to any jobs today, and simply checked my applications and updated my list of jobs.
Day 9: November 4
The only job I could even apply for that would fit into the rules of this challenge is for a spa receptionist at the nearest casino. I would have to either arrange to use the Call a Bus service, or make one heck of a side income to honestly accept something like that, because it is something like a forty mile drive from me.
So far, I’m up to 17 jobs for the challenge. I have still only gotten an offer to work as a temporary cashier at <Big Box store>. I didn’t even get an interview on the two jobs that I would actually take as second teaching jobs.
Day 10: November 5
My day started with working my real job, teaching writing to adults online as an adjunct English instructor. But my day of this challenge started with a rejection letter from <well known cell phone company>.
One of the reasons I have trouble getting job offers from entry level jobs is because it looks like I have too many options. They want people who would appear to have no choice but to keep working for them. They want kids with no previous job history and no education they can take someplace else. They want adults who have never worked, and would have trouble getting another job for a very long time. They want retired people, because althrough they would have the skills and experience, there is still so much ageism in our society, once it’s clear that you retired from a career, it’s hard to get re-hired back into it.
My resume, with my graduate degree, more than a decade of experience in two fields, and an active multi faceted career in a third, looks like I can just go out there and get a desirable job anytime I want. That is clearly and obviously not true, as second teaching jobs do not even appear to be opening up right now, but that’s the way the corporate types who read my resume and cover letter see it.
The second notable moment of this challenge today was a rejection letter from one of the jobs I actually wanted. This is just an experiment to see what job hunting is really like, but I do also have my eye out for second teaching jobs, and this was one of them.
I also received a second “just for the challenge” job rejection. These are starting to sting.
Day 11: November 6
Today I made it through one fifth of the challenge, with my 20th job application. It was for a breakfast bar attendant at a nice hotel in town. They demand one year of restaurant experience. For a breakfast bar attendant. That would be the person who takes the empty self-serve pans back to the kitchen, puts the full ones out on the bar, and keeps the dining area the guests use clean. People with a year of restaurant experience can go get jobs as servers and actually make decent money through tips.
Day 12: November 7
It has been less than two weeks, I’m only up to 21 submitted job applications, and I am already running out of jobs I can reasonably apply for. I even applied for one yesterday and got immediately rejected, because I can’t tutor both English and math.
This is a similar problem to what everyone who applies to work at <national chain restaurant mentioned before> is going to encounter; they want somebody who can do the work of three jobs, for low pay.
November 8: Day 13
I just put in for a temporary holiday job cutting and wrapping cheese for< a specialty food store.> They actually asked me how many years experience I have working with specialty cheeses, and made me take a management skills test to finish the application.
This is becoming an absurd pattern.
November 9: Day 14
It must have been the cheese wrapping job application that wore me out enough to need a day off. Overall, this portion of the journal shows that the “all these jobs are available, people just don’t want to work,” claim is flimsy at best, and is in many cases, completely unfounded. The jobs are posted. They are not necessarily available to anyone and everyone who needs or wants to work.
Any job is going to have reasonable requirements. Anyone seeking to fill a position is going to need someone who meets the basic qualifications to do the job. Rejecting my application if I applied to work in a garage or for a home repair service would be completely reasonable. Not only do I have no skills or training in that area, I’m more than a little dense when it comes to that type of intelligence, and would have a difficult time learning how to repair appliances or work on cars in the first place, never mind reaching a professional level in it.
But the longer this challenge went on, the more it became clear that many employers are….well….asking people how many years of experience they have with fancy cheese.
The Hummingbirds Holiday Concert for Kids: A Christmas Holiday Songfest for Children
December 18th from 1-3PM.
For The Good (FTG) has teamed up with the History Center to put on a free Party!
The band, The Hummingbirds, will make merry music for children from 2-12 years old and their families. There will be celebrity readers and a gift, a free book for all children.
As a Sponsor, you will support the Community Gardens and the Study Buddy Club, programs of FTG. The event will take place in the History Center at 1608 Genesee Street. Special holiday treats will be available, including an arts and crafts table.
By celebrating the goodness in the season with children, the musical songfest will reaffirm the diversity, equity, and inclusion values in our community.
Send your donations to For The Good, Inc. 1113 Linwood Place Utica, NY 13501
Sponsorship Package Options:
Platinum Bells $5,000
● Sponsor name listed first in program as Platinum Partner sponsor
● Daily inclusion in to date radio commercial promotion
● First named inclusion in all press and social media mentions
● January advertisement in the Utica Phoenix newspaper and website
● Your Representative will have the opportunity to record a message
Golden Bells $2,500
● Sponsor name listed in program as Patron Gold sponsor
● Daily inclusion in to date radio commercial promotion
● 2nd named inclusion in all press and social media mentions
● January advertisement in the Utica Phoenix newspaper and website
● Your company will be acknowledged at the event
Silver Bells $1,500
● Sponsor name listed in program as Benefactor Silver sponsor
● Daily inclusion in to date radio commercial promotion
● 3rd named inclusion in all press and social media mentions
● January advertisement in the Utica Phoenix newspaper and website
● Your company will be acknowledged at the event
Bronze Bells $1,000
● Sponsor name listed in program as Partner sponsor
● Daily inclusion in to date radio commercial promotion
● 4th named inclusion in all press and social media mentions
● January advertisement in the Utica Phoenix newspaper and website
● Your company will be acknowledged at the event
Copper Bells $500
● Sponsor name listed in program as Friend sponsor
● Daily inclusion in to date radio commercial promotion
● named inclusion in all press and social media mentions
● January advertisement in Utica Phoenix Newspaper and website
● Your company will be acknowledged at the event
Contact us at email@example.com or 315-797-2417
This article content was provided by For the Good, Inc. Please reach out to them directly to sponsor this worthy event.
We took a break from reporting on the “Apply to 100 jobs challenge” to bring you some brand new content today. But “100 jobs” will return next Friday with part 3.
While we are slowly moving back into offline public spaces, many are still more comfortable interacting with people, especially large groups of people, online. Coupled with the increased stress of finding work, managing finances, and continuing to grapple with the pandemic, this may make joining an online support or special interest group seem like a good idea. And it certainly can be. Signing into groups via Zoom, or participating through text on Facebook can help us cope with issues in our lives, connect with others who share our interests, and learn more about an issue or interest. But like any online environment, there are safe and unsafe online groups. Here are just a few warning signs that an online group might not be safe, or at the very least a waste of time.
Logging in makes you feel like you walked in on somebody.
Relationships can form online, and there is nothing wrong with finding people who feel comfortable in the group. But if you log in and it seems as though a tight, exclusive group has formed, the online space may have been taken over by an online clique. If you’ve joined just to get to interact with more people, hanging out around an online clique may still be a good idea for you. But if you’ve joined to learn about a topic or receive support, these people may not be willing to provide it, despite what the page or group title might suggest.
Everything is completely off-topic.
The rules for staying on-topic depend on the group. Some are kept strictly to the topic the group was formed to address. If it’s a support group for adult adopted children, every post and comment must relate directly to life as an adult whose parents adopted them. If it’s a chat room for people who love Game of Thrones, chatter about anything but Game of Thrones is strictly forbidden. Other groups are a bit more lax. They may allow general conversation, as long as all group or room attendees are members of the intended community. But even in the least moderated groups, there is typically at least a rule that comments and chatter must revert to the stated topic when someone new comes in, or when somebody needs to talk about the main topic. Logging into a group and finding no on-topic communication does not mean anything dangerous is going on, but it may be a sign that the group has fallen apart.
Moderators seem more concerned about the image of the online space than about the people in it.
Scammers, trolls and other online undesirables are going to make their way into any online space. The important thing is how they are dealt with. Moderators should take any and all reports of scamming, trolling, and online harassment seriously, and take steps to remove and block the problematic account at once. If it turns out to be a misunderstanding or deliberately false accusation, the person can create a new account.
Moderators of dangerous pages and groups are more concerned with the image of the online environment. They respond to reports of scammers, trolls, or harassers by bullying or demeaming the person who does the reporting instead of the problem account. Their only concern seems to be that the room or group not look bad. Any group that responds to a complaint in this manner should be left behind immediately.
Group owners make demands on your time.
One of the best things about online groups and chatrooms is the flexibility. You can log in when you can, log off when you need to, and devote as much thought and energy to the group as you can or want to give them. Beware of any support or interest group or website that demands people spend all or most of their time connected to the group. Unless somebody is paying you to be logged into their website, unless you have a salaried or hourly job working for this website with an agreement to work set hours, they cannot require you to log in or to remain logged in.
There are a lot of goods and services for sale.
Joining a group and finding a focus on selling doesn’t necessarily mean the group is dangerous, or even an unhealthy place to be. But it is a warning sign that the group or site is not truly there to provide support or information, but to sell someone’s services or goods. One or two items or services sprinkled among related posts is not a big deal, but if most of the posts seem to be selling something, the group or page is a sales area, not an interest or support group.
Something just strikes you as “off” or dangerous about the group or website, or someone who spends time there.
People typically ignore their internal warning bells for one of two reasons. They may fear they’re misjudging the situation, and walking away from something wonderful. Or perhaps they are worried about coming across as rude, or hurting someone else’s feelings.
Neither of these are legitimate reasons to continue interacting with anyone who makes you seriously uncomfortable online. If you are truly destined to meet the person who will log into the chatroom, join the facebook group, or jump into the comments on the YouTube video ten minutes after you leave, you will meet up with that person another way. Hurting others’ feelings can be avoided by simply ceasing to interact with the online group. There is no need to announce your departure or tell everyone what an awful webpage or group they have. Just leave the group and don’t return.
Online groups can be great ways to connect with others, find support for serious issues, or learn about new things. But just like any other large, public space, everybody you encounter there is not going to be a safe person to know.
Please add byline: by Jess Szabo', Arts Writer and provide a link back to www.artistcafeutica.com if adding this article to your artist, second career, side gig, or personal website.
What really happens when you set out to apply to 100 jobs in the post-quarantine, “nobody wants to work” era? In the first few days of the challenge, the answer seemed to be “a lot of rejection letters and a reluctant offer of a few weeks of temporary customer service work from a manager who seemed intent on wasting time sulking over an applicant who could not work on Saturdays instead of filling the role with somebody with the needed Saturday availability.” Here is what happened as the first week drew to a close:
Day 4: October 28, 2021
Once the temp job at <Big box store> decision had been made and the application withdrawn at the end of the day yesterday, I continued applying for jobs in the fields of customer service, basic office work, education, and writing.
Right after college, I worked for eleven years as a receptionist. During those years, I gradually grew from an amateur to a professional writer, earning a Master of Arts degree in Literature and Creative Writing, and starting a career as a reporter. I was a reporter for twelve years overall, but since I was freelance, I would say I have a solid ten years of experience. One of the gaps in those years was filled with a nine month job as a Walmart Greeter and Cashier. During those nine months, I made the decision to shift my career to creative writing, general freelance writing, and writing teaching. Six and a half years ago, I began teaching writng skills to adults at an online university. Three years ago, I narrowed my freelance writing down to writing for and about the arts.
One of the jobs that would revive my long ago customer service career would be a dishwasher and busser at <seafood chain restaurant>. That is certainly something that would be a reasonable side job for me. I have all those years of experience in customer service, and cleanliness has always been a priority with me. When I was a receptionist, I added “cleaning lady” on to my duties myself simply because the tiny lobby, office spaces, and restrooms in the place were filthy and they needed somebody. (And no, the owner did not increase my pay or offer any compensation. His own wife spoke up about it. He glared at both of us and ignored her.)
At first, <seafood chain restaurant> looked like it might be much more straightforward. Their listing on Indeed says “Dishwasher and Busser.” That’s a reasonable combination. It would be your job to clear and sanitize the tables and wash the dishes you collect for future customer use.
Once I filled out the application, I received a notice that they’d looked over my materials and wanted to continue the process, but I needed to go on the company website and fill out their official application form.
That’s when I got a good look at the complete job description. To be fair, they do have it posted on Indeed, but it isn’t visible unless you open up the whole listing rather than using the quick apply function.
Reading the full job description, you learn that not only will you be responsible for keeping the tables cleared and clean, washing the dishes, and performing the other light kitchen tasks one would expect of the dishwasher, like keeping the kitchen area clean and helping to roll silverware, you will be responsible for cleaning the restrooms, taking out the trash, and doing maintenance on the grounds as well.
Somehow, I doubt the person who takes this job is going to be getting triple the hourly wage, but they should. That’s three jobs. Clearing tables right after guests leave, sanitizing them according to today’s increased standards, keeping the dishes washed for the customers and the kitchen staff, keeping the kitchen area clean, and helping to prepare items for table setting is a dishwasher/busser job. Cleaning the rest of the place, including the restrooms, and taking out the trash constitutes a job as a custodian. And the person who maintains the grounds is well, a maintence person. Depending on the size of the restaurant, the busser and dishwasher might be separate jobs too, making that four distinct jobs. But let’s be generous with the large corporation and say that’s one job, and they’re only asking someone to do the work of three while being paid for one.
Day 6: November 1
October 29, 30 and 31 were a weekend break from the challenge.
Today, the first alarming observation is that some of the job titles and ads are a bit misleading. I submitted an application for “Community Support Staff” for an organization that serves disabled people. The job ad sounded like you would be helping groups of people with activities in the community, or doing office work or other front of office tasks to help people get out into the community. But the test they gave me asked a bunch of nursing and patient care questions. I didn’t finish, because I have never even thought about entering that field and didn’t know the answer to any of the questions. If they need somebody to provide that type of care, they should be looking for someone with at least some background in home health and nursing, not somebody they need to use a little online quiz to screen. I could have looked up all the answers, presented myself as skilled and ready to provide care, gotten the job, and shown up as well…me…somebody with no real idea how to provide home health care or the slightest knowledge of nursing.
In terms of progress in the challenge, it’s the sixth day I’ve worked on it, and I am up to fifteen job applications. Fifteen job applications….and the only interest anyone has shown in me is to offer me a temporary position as a cashier at <Big box store>. They didn’t even offer me a real, permanent job there, just a few weeks of work helping out over the holiday season.
Day 7:November 2, 2021
One of yesterday’s applications was to <a pizza chain>, for the position of Hostess. The response came so immediately, I knew nobody read my application. It was an automated response to anyone who turned in an application.
And the response was annoying, to say the least. For the rest of the evening and into this morning, I have been absolutely bombarded with both texts and emails demanding that I schedule an interview immediately.
The whole automated/bot responses and even in some cases, interviews, discourage me from even pursuing the job. In a way, I get it. They’re thinking about hiring you to show people where they’re supposed to sit and pass around menus. This isn’t anything anyone actually wants to do long term. People who want to build a career in the service industry are there to work their way up to server, so they can start earning decent tips, and then up into management. People who just need some money, just need some money. They’re going to quit as soon as something they actually do comes along. It’s not like I’m on the short list to be running one of their departments for the foreseeable future, and they should be taking me out for lunch or drinks to see if I’m a good fit.
That said, the message “We can’t even be bothered to actually glance at your application, now jump out of your chair and come running to us for an interview,” does not exactly leave a potential employee with a good impression of a potential employer.
Keep reading the “Library 315” page of Artist Cafe Utica for more about the challenge.
On October 25 of this year, I began a social experiment. No letting the person in front of me decide what I eat for a day, ordering one item at every fast food place, or going to the worst rated business in my hometown. Instead, I challenged myself to see what happens when you apply to one hundred jobs in the post-quarantine, employers claiming “nobody wants to work” era.
The challenge, happily, ended when I got so bored with it, I decided to violate one of the rules and apply for one of those “gig economy.” jobs like Uber, DoorDash, GrubHub, and Instacart. Only without a car, all but Instacart Shopper is out for me, and they are not hiring.
Needing to stick strictly to online gig work, I put it to tutor for a website called “TutorMe,” which turned out to be a great opportunity for me to earn money doing some of the work I am called to do…teaching writing and related skills.
Here is just some of what happened up until the day I received the offer to work as an independent contractor through TutorMe:
To launch the challenge, I applied to six jobs. Two of them are in the literacy and writing teaching category, and are jobs I would love to work. The other four were jobs that may not involve work I feel called to do, but are jobs I could do, based on my eleven years and nine months of experience in customer service.
One, <Big Box store>, invited me to submit a virtual recorded interview. The interview offer came so quickly, it has to be an automatic response to anyone who applies. The position they would consider me for is an unspecified temporary holiday job.
To complete the interview, I had to watch a recorded interviewer ask a question, then record a video of myself answering it. Nothing…and I mean nothing…upsets me…makes me nervous…and flat out lowers my confidence more than having my picture taken or being filmed, and watching myself while it’s happening makes it ten times worse. I would literally rather go onstage in a swimsuit or other revealing outfit, give a speech to a large crowd, or take a test in my worst subject.
People think I’m being dramatic, displaying false modesty, or even teasing or playing around with them when I tell them this, and ask them not to take my picture, show me a picture of myself, film me, or make me look at myself on video. I am not. I have stopped speaking to people because they wouldn’t back off and leave me alone about videos and pictures.
To get through these five videos, I unfocused my eyes and intentionally sat in some weird lighting so I just looked like a blob to myself and didn’t have to actually look at a clear shot of me on video. Then I answered each question quickly and submitted my videos without playing them back.
The people watching them will probably think I’m high. And the only answers I could think of involved my six and a half years experience teaching adults and the ten years I spent as a reporter before transitioning to teaching. So even if they do realize I was just uncomfortable on camera, they’ll think I’m lying about not being a reporter anymore, and just assume I’m there undercover to break some big story. I expect my first rejection letter of the challenge within the next day or two.
Day 2: October 26, 2021
<Big box store> actually accepted that video interview. Honestly, it makes me wonder who they turned down. I have a phone interview scheduled for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. I’ll be at work at my real salaried job, my teaching job, at that time, but it will be a good time to take a break. I should have most of my work done.
Right now, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do if they offer me a job.
Day 3: October 27,2021
On Wednesdays, I schedule semi-breaks. That is, I make sure my laptop is open and the university (where I have a salaried teaching job) webpage is on the screen at all times in case a student needs to speak to me during office hours, but I take a break from all the other work I’m doing at the time, such as grading, participating in the discussion board, writing lessons, or writing and sending outreach.
On most days, semi-break time is spent checking in on the freelance writing portion of my career, doing a quick chore, checking on Callie, checking the news, etc. Today, it was filled with a phone interview from <Big box store>
At first it seemed as though they weren’t interested in me because I didn’t have Saturday availability, but in the end, I was offered a temporary cashier and other front of store duties position. The next step was to send me authorization to carry out a “consumer report” on me. This means they want to check my credit history in addition to looking for a criminal background. They may also want to check my social media.
There’s really no need to waste the background check people’s time. Temporary cashier at <Big box store> is not a job I would take as a side gig. It would force me to rearrage my whole schedule only to end in about seven or eight weeks.
And then there’s the money. The pay is $15.00 per hour. According to the paycheck calculator website, Paycheck City, I would clear $715 per check if I worked 30 hours per week and got paid every other week. That only comes to $357.50 per week. And that’s before you deduct those expenses that are supposed to be “optional” that often are not. No, you don’t “have to” buy drinks on your break or lunch on your lunch period every day you work, but when it’s faster to go to the snack bar or deli than it is to dig your sack lunch out of the fridge in the break room….if somebody else hasn’t eaten it by the time you get there….you wind up doing that. I’d wind up taking an Uber to get there and home at least once per week. When it came down to it, I would be spending a lot of hours working at <Big box store> simply to enable myself to keep working at <Big box store>.
Come back next Friday to learn how the next few days of the challenge went…