Your cap and gown is ordered, your final papers have been turned in, and you’re midway through Senior Week. Everything is going great!

There’s only one problem: On Monday, the real world begins, and you haven’t nailed down your dream job at a startup yet. If this sounds like you, don’t get down on yourself; the hardest job to get is the first one, and fast-growing startups are always looking for great people.

In particular, in the past few years, a ton of startups have emerged in the online marketplace and collaborative consumption space—think Airbnb, Lyft, Fiverr, TaskRabbit, and more. These startups support marketplaces that connect customers who need a place to stay, a ride, or a task completed, with a person on the other side who’s willing to help.

While you’re continuing your search for a full-time position, working with one or more of these startups can give you valuable experience working on the supply side of a marketplace, show you the ins and outs of scaling a flexible workforce, and, of course, help you make money—while maintaining flexibility for interviews. Here are a few that are worth checking out.


Now available in 60 markets, Lyft is a ride-sharing program that works similar to a taxi service. Riders can hail a lift (er, Lyft) from their smartphone, but instead of a taxi, a regular person in his or her car will show up. Lyft is constantly hiring drivers, and at peak hours, they can make $35 an hour.

The side benefit? You’ll get to meet lots of people (including, if you live in a startup hub, lots of people in tech) which can be great for networking. Just know you’ll need your own car to work with Lyft, and that drivers pay their own gas, as well as wear and tear on the car.


Everyone knows the feeling of needing to get something done, but not having the time to do it. Whether it’s heading to the post office to deliver a package, addressing 100 pieces of mail, putting together IKEA furniture, or hanging flyers about a garage sale, sometimes you’d just rather hand off the task to someone else. TaskRabbit gives busy people a way to hire a temporary personal assistant to accomplish pretty much any to-do—and gives others (you!) a way to pick up quick side gigs.

Elance and oDesk

If you’d rather sit behind your laptop then head out into the world, working for Elance or oDesk could be a great option. Both sites are marketplaces for freelancers, making it simple for businesses to hire copywriters, ghost writers, designers, programmers, and more. Create a profile, upload examples of your work, and then bid on any relevant projects. Not only can you make some extra money, but you can also build your resume and portfolio.


InstaEDU (my company) connects students with great online tutors. Our tutors are predominantly current college students and recent college graduates, and tutors make $20 an hour. Online tutoring is a great way to put your college education to work in a flexible manner, and with the site’s student reviews, you’ll be able to build up visible proof of expertise in your area of study.

Each of the companies above operates in a different vertical, but they all have one thing in common: They’re using technology to connect people who need help with a workforce that’s ready to assist. Try your hand out, learn what works (and what could use improving), and then bring that knowledge to your next interview.

Photo of man working courtesy of Shutterstock.