Gigster Summers – Difficult but with Many New Opportunities

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It’s that time of year again… for those who work in academia, the academic term is ending. Likewise, for those working on a contract basis, this could be the mid-year fiscal end for that contract. This is a difficult time for many because financial obligations do not end when the summer comes and so these months are the source of much angst and trepidation. So, what else can adjuncts do?

Well, one advantage of adjuncts is that this type of uncertainty is something they are familiar with. Even during the normal year, there can be lulls, and so adjuncts plan ahead. For one, they typically set money aside. However, planning can only go so far, so adjuncts have to be more flexible and resourceful. While anyone can become an Uber driver or flip burgers for the Summer, the trick is finding higher pay that rewards for skills, experience and education.

Here are some ideas that we thought we should share:

Speaking engagements
While many adjuncts do this already, we also know it takes quite a bit of work to find the right opportunities, especially during the Summer months. While there are many speaker bureaus out there, one that is specifically targeted at academics is Public Academic from the Colégas Group.

Research studies
While undergraduate students typically take the Summer off, most colleges and full-time academics don't. Research continues and this is a fantastic opportunity for adjuncts to participate. One place to start looking is on the government's Clinical Trials web site, but there are many other databases out there that list research participation opportunities.

Focus groups
In contrast to government funded research, there are also many private sector opportunities. The private sector also doesn't observe long summer vacations, but they do need engaged, skilled and experienced people to provide in-person as well as online feedback. Now there are some less reputable companies out there that do this, but here are two that are well established and reputable: Adler-Weiner Research and  FocusGroup.com.

Unemployment benefits
Granted, this isn't exactly work, but adjuncts often don't think of this. Actually, when they aren't working, they can apply for unemployment benefits - yes, even while they take a vacation because for temporary workers these are technically unpaid vacations. Each state has its own requirements for unemployment benefits, but here is a link to the California requirements.

Provide in-person verifications
Believe it or not, many companies need to do in-person verifications and they don't often have the resources to send one of their own employees. Sometimes it is simply a distance issue. It is work that requires professionalism and a bit of knowledge about the specific things that need to be verified, so this is another opportunity for adjuncts. For more info, check out WeGoLook.

Create instructional videos
Why not make videos based on your adjunct work? It sounds silly, but there is a huge market for quality video training on specialized and advanced skills, the kind that adjuncts typically have. While this is usually difficult to do, especially finding ways to sell your content, there is one site that makes this very easy: SkillShare.

Brand design
If you are skilled in art and design, then finding rewarding work with well known companies may not be so easy during the Summer months. Here is a site that specializes in matching designers with big name companies: 99designs. This would also be a great opportunity to add some big names to your CV/resume.

Columbia Business School research
Like many other colleges out there, the Columbia Business School does quite a bit of research all year long. With their students gone for the Summer months, they need talented people to fill in. Columbia is well regarded and this is a great opportunity for adjuncts. For more info, see their website.

Now I'd like to point out that I have not tried any of these and so I cannot directly endorse any of the companies or services. However, they are being used by many adjuncts that I have spoken to, so if you need additional income or opportunities this Summer, check them out.