6 Grads Share the Worst Jobs They Took to Help Pay for College


With the cost of earning a degree on the rise, many college students need to work in order to help pay for their tuition and related expenses. Keep reading to find out some of the worst jobs people had while they were in college.

The High Cost of College

Paying for college can be challenging and the days of being able to focus 100% of your time and effort on your studies are long gone. It's common for students to hold jobs while they're pursuing their degree because they need the money. We found out some of the worst jobs people endured in order to help fund their education.

Cleaning Up After College Students

''While in college, my student loan payments would only come at the start of the semester, which meant during the summer I had to get another job to afford rent. One awful summer I worked on the cleaning crew for a property management company cleaning out houses after unruly college students had moved out. Know who are some of the worst tenants ever? College kids living on their own for the first time.

I had to scrub toilets that hadn't been cleaned in over a year, wash dried vomit off bathroom walls and clean out refrigerators with spilled EVERYTHING inside them. I gagged on a daily basis. The job only lasted about eight weeks and covered my utilities and part of rent. As much as I hated it, now when I vacate a rental property, I clean it from top to bottom.''

-Sarah Stephens Bean

Dealing With Bad Vibes

A man delivers flowers

''During my freshman and sophomore year at Columbia, while most of my colleagues were gearing up for cushy summer internships at prestigious investment banks, I spent my summers working as a flower delivery driver. You'd think that such a job would be rife with wonderful experiences, but you'd be wrong. Three quarters of the deliveries were to terminally ill patients or estranged girlfriends of unfaithful men, and there were bad vibes all around. But the good news is that I didn't have to take out any loans for my textbooks!''

-Augie Kennady, Media Relations Director, ShipMonk

Handling Difficult Duties

''The worst job I had in college was bookkeeping at a drug rehabilitation center. Part of my job duties required me to deny treatment to recovering addicts who fell behind on their payments. Additionally, my work hours were 5 am-12 pm, which was tough during evening classes and handling my party friendly roommates. I kept the job for about nine months and my salary covered my car insurance, gas, small credit card bill and real food.''

-Veronica Cintron, CEO & Co-founder, V+R Digital

Waiting on Nursing Home Residents

''The worst job [I had] was absolutely a waiter at a nursing home. Imagine being a waiter but not getting tips and only dealing with the most confused and upset 'customers' all for pay barely above minimum wage. Now obviously some people were just lovely, but it was a hybrid job between orderly and server. I only lasted about two months in that role. Doing the math, it was only a couple thousand dollars total earned after taxes, so I really only paid for books and the minimal living expenses of a college student. I still have about $30k in student debt left - so it didn't make a dent. One of the many reasons I've chosen a career in technology and not in hospitality.''

-Chris Karnes, Head of Growth, Going Merry

Taking Inventory at Big Box Stores

A stock room

''I worked for a company that put together furniture for big box stores. I was responsible for putting together furniture, like the desks that you can try before you can buy. That wasn't so bad. What was awful, though, was having to take inventory at every single box store. If you've ever seen the back of a Staples or Office Depot, you probably know what I mean, but those stock rooms make my kids' rooms now look spotless!

[I had the job for] a summer. [It paid for] my rent. I kept the thing for a while, mostly because it paid so damn well. It was like $15 an hour mainly because the stock work was so brutal and repetitive.''

-Mark Aselstine, Founder, Uncorked Ventures

Doing Physically Demanding Work

''The worst job I had as a college student was a big rig oil change attendant for a mobile oil change company. This entailed driving around in the mobile oil change truck to various clients who were mostly drivers of semi-trucks. My partner would change the filter and grease the nipples (aka Zerk fittings) and my job was to climb up on the engine and dump gallons of oil inside. I was also responsible for clean-up: making sure the used oil was poured into the container for oil recycling, the used filters wiped down and stored, and the tools cleaned and put away. For a petite academic, this job was physically challenging but paid better than other jobs available at the time.

I only kept the job for about six months, but it helped me pay my tuition and living expenses for a couple semesters. Eventually another job came along that better fit my class schedule -- an important factor for someone who paid their own way through school.''

-Kristen Hovet, Science Journalist/Founding Editor, BRIGID Magazine

One way to cut down on the costs of earning a college degree is by earning credit through Learn more about earning low-cost college credit.

*Submissions were edited for clarity and length

By Jessica Lyons
December 2018
college college affordability

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