Gigster Summers, Part 2: More resources for income during the slower summer months

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In an earlier edition of the Gigster 'Zine, I spoke about the difficulties of managing as a Gigster during the summer because companies and organizations tend to end their contracts during this time. We included some ideas on earning extra income in the summer, which you can review here.

The feedback was overwhelming but you also sent us more suggestions that we thought would be useful for everyone. Yes, there are many Gigs available during this time, but we want to focus on those that make effective use of your Collegiate Gigster skills.

So here is Part 2 of our list of suggestions for earning a little extra income this Summer:

Academic Tutoring
Several of you do tutoring Gigs during the Summer. Services like Wyznat Tutoring Services help you connect with those needing academic assistance and training.

Test Websites
One of our readers mentioned that finding work for the differently-abled is especially difficult. Here is something you can do from home and does not require a lot of physical activity: testing websites for quality at UserTesting.

Virtual Assistant
Many professionals need help managing their calendars, contacts and customers. If you are organized, becoming a VA may be just for you. If this is of interest, check out Assistant Match.

Teach English Online
Gigsters have to be good in speaking, reading and writing in English. Why not teach children around the world to do so as well? One site that makes this easy is VIPkid.

Be a Local Tour Guide
How well do you know your own city? Why not enlighten others from abroad with your knowledge? One site that makes this very easy is Vayable.

Transcription Services
Are you a fast typist? Good with language? How about transcribing audio & video for large companies? There are many options online, but one company that has an easy interface for improving the skills of transcribers is Go Transcript.

Teach Online
Everyone knows Udemy as a popular place to get trained online. Did you also know that it is also a great place to teach and earn extra income doing so? As a Collegiate Gigsters you have unique skills already, so rising to the top shouldn't be too difficult.

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Now we would be remiss if we didn't mention the three biggest online temp sites, especially for programmers:

In a way, they are our competition, we know. They also happen to be open for business, while we are almost there. We are confident enough in our own service that when we are up & running, we believe you will agree that we offer Gigs that cater to your higher-level skills and leave more in your pockets.

So go ahead, try them out, we're not worried.

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This blog post is part of a newsletter I publish weekly called The Gigster 'Zine. It is a production of the Colégas Group, an organization that seeks to offer new opportunities for anyone with a college degree. To learn more about us, to receive valuable strategies for improvement, and to find innovative employment opportunities, sign up for the complete newsletter at colegasgroup.com.

Keep it Positive! Seeing speed-bumps rather than road-blocks.

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As a Collegiate Gigster, I read a lot of cynicism online. It usually comes up in conversations about the economy or politics, but also life in general. Life can be difficult, especially for Gigsters and I’m not saying it isn’t. What I am saying is that our life is full of events, and it is the meaning we give to these events that make them negative or positive, or what I call seeing roadblocks vs. speed-bumps.

As we proceed through our day at work, having negative thoughts does not make the work any easier. Sometimes we really have to search for the good in the things around us. According to Johns Hopkins University medical researchers, having a positive mental outlook benefits our body and mind. From a physiological perspective, when you are positive, you are more relaxed and focused on the present moment. This allows optimal blood flow to your entire brain, but primarily the frontal cortex, to better problem-solve and deal with issues as they come up. If you are in a negative mindset, you are usually under stress. This state concentrates the blood flow in the part of the brain where the fight-or-flight response originates from. It limits your visual focus and you react, instead of responding to situations and events more introspectively.

Remaining positive, even hopeful, is one way to keep your mind and your brain healthy and consequently receptive to the positive resources in the environment. The article also talks of re-framing your assessment of the circumstances around you. Take for instance the example of getting into an accident on the way to work. Yes, this isn’t ideal, but it does happen. How we deal with this circumstance determines whether this is a roadblock or a speed-bump. A roadblock could lead you to fall apart at the side of road, crying and feeling helpless and hopeless. A speed-bump mentality focuses your mind on the foresight of paying your car insurance on-time (and adding roadside assistance to the policy).

Also consider the fact that it was just a fender bender and not a horrible wreck that could have landed you and possibly others in the hospital. Focusing on the positives allows you to not only better deal with the immediate issues, but also helps you move on from them. The simple mental exercise of re-framing can keep you from going down a rabbit hole of despair that limits your ability to help yourself.

Reach out, ask for help, ask questions, stay humble, smile, laugh. Also have faith in your abilities and your capacity to thrive. Your smarts got you this far, so I’m confident that you will continue to transform those roadblocks into speed-bumps. I like to think that Collegiate Gigsters are a little better at this than most, but this advice is good for everyone.

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This blog post is part of a newsletter I publish weekly called The Gigster 'Zine. It is a production of the Colégas Group, an organization that seeks to offer new opportunities for anyone with a college degree. To learn more about us, to receive valuable strategies for improvement, and to find innovative employment opportunities, sign up for the complete newsletter at colegasgroup.com.

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.

Looking for a Personal Philosophy? Try Stoicism!

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Adjuncts have often endured challenges and also experienced rewards in their path to success. How they bounce back and thrive often depends on their personal philosophy. If you are still searching for a personal philosophy to help create a theme or guiding principle in your life, look to Stocism.

I know, I can almost hear you say, “Stocisim? What is that?! Sound boring, and I am NOT boring!” Well, I want you to consider stoicism because it is considered a philosophy for those of us who consider ourselves pragmatic. Think:

Stoicism = Pragmatism

Being adjuncts requires us to be strategic in our thinking, purposeful in our actions, and pragmatic in dealing with consequences. Boring isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when it helps you create a solid foundation from which to showcase your creativity and professional acumen.

As an avid reader, I went out to my local library and picked up some books to get me started:

  • The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca
  • Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
  • The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

OK, I know not everyone has time to read philosophy books, so let me give you the abridged version from what I've read so far: the philosophy asks us to learn from our struggles, develop a “big picture thinking” approach, and remember our mortality. These core ideals allow us to develop a plan AND enjoy our lives. As we work in our chosen professions, we can get caught up in the day-to-day grind and sometimes lose sight of what is most important.

Through struggles and accomplishments, adjuncts realize that they are meant to contribute to the human story with their unique talents and abilities. Besides, it's kind of empowering to be able to say at a faculty luncheon: "Well, my personal philosophy is stoicism...," wait for the inquisitive looks, then say: "...and let me tell you what that means to me." 

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

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Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of professional advice from well-meaning friends, family, and school officials. The adage “Fake it till you make it.” is a familiar one. We also heard that we should apply for a job even if we are only 50% qualified (because presumably we can fake the rest), or that it was okay to fudge on your resume. All these little micro-level deceptions can take a toll on our sense of self-worth. Feeling like a fraud or a liar who will be uncovered at any moment is often the result of us taking to heart these and other seemingly innocuous pieces of advice. Unfortunately, we are setting ourselves up to experience Imposter Syndrome.

What is Imposter Syndrome? Essentially having the sense that you will be discovered as a fraud. Although “faking it till making it” relies on your consciously deceiving yourself and your employer, Imposter Syndrome more often than not comes about even though there was no deception at all. You did work hard for your achievements, and you actually deserve the recognition that comes with a new position. In the face of all that evidence, you still feel like a fraud. Where does that feeling come from?

Psychology research has found that Imposter Syndrome comes from growing up in an environment where over-achievement was prioritized over developing a well-rounded sense of self. Since most of us are overachievers, we can see why Imposter Syndrome impacts so many Collegiate Gigsters. Often, we experience Imposter Syndrome without ever realizing it. We think this sort of anxiety is normal. There are things you can do to deal with this syndrome and work to create a more balanced sense of self:

  • Talk with people you trust
  • Do a Knowledge Inventory (see list below for a guide on things to consider)
  • Recognize that we are all becoming, and therefore are not perfect

As you go through this process, your thinking will shift and you will start developing a sense of self that is grounded in reality and well-rounded. Overachievement, by definition, has external motivations built in to it. We look to others to compare ourselves and determine the value of our accomplishments. That way of thinking can set you up for failure by distracting you from seeing the greatness of what you may already have accomplished. Collegiate Gigsters are highly accomplished, intelligent people. As such we should be on the look-out for when the Imposter Syndrome rears its head. One way to have a better sense of accomplishments is to outline them into what I call a Knowledge Inventory.

The Knowledge Inventory Guide

Use the categories below to jot down the things that you have accomplished that are important to you. In other words, outline what things add to your value and self-worth. By doing this Knowledge Inventory, you ground yourself and keep the Imposter Syndrome in check.

  1. Intellectual Capital: Degrees, Certifications, etc.
  2. Social Capital: Membership in Associations, Organizations, Boards of Directors, Advisory Boards, etc.; Close relationships to Thought Leaders in your field
  3. Creative Capital: Talents and abilities that are unique to you (musical ability, artistic ability, cooking, knitting, photography, juggling, etc.)
  4. Cultural Capital: Connections to your cultural community
  5. Spiritual Capital: Connections to your religious or spiritual community

Let this well-rounded and realistic sense of self shine through in all that you do.

Developing a Personal Brand: “Who are you?”

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This deceptively simple question is part of almost every job interview, but it usually sounds like this: “So…tell us a little bit about yourself.” This is usually followed with a smile akin to a spider looking over her prey. But in all seriousness, knowing who you are is an important aspect of your personal brand as a collegiate gigster.

What is a personal brand, you ask? It is who you want people to believe you to be; the impression you want to make and leave behind. Your personal brand is something you curate, meaning you decide what aspect of who you are you show to the world at any given time. It is an aspect of your authentic self. Often your personal brand can be represented as a catch phrase (mine is “Education is a process, not a commodity.”), or a signature color (mine is a royal purple).

How do you decide what your personal brand is? Here are some questions to get started:

  • What is most important to you?
  • What catch phrase do you often say?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • What causes do you believe it?
  • What personal philosophy do you espouse?
  • What metaphor best describes you?
  • What is the first thing that comes to mind to people when they think about you?

Answering these questions will give you a better picture of what informs your brand. As a gigster, your reputation will begin to precede you. What will inform your reputation will be your personal brand. Once you’ve come up with something, be thoughtful in how you construct it and be consistent in how you enact it. We also grow and develop over time, so it is okay that your personal brand changes as you change. This is part of the curating process. For example, if at one point your personal brand included you having a particular hair color (brunette) but then you decided to change it to reddish, that is okay. It is okay because you decided to incorporate it into your personal brand at that point in time.

As you ponder who you are, realize that we will never definitively answer that question. What we can do is decide who we are today, tomorrow and into the near future (about five years out). Knowing who we are adds to our confidence as professionals. This confidence will be seen and felt by those you interact with. As Collegiate Gigsters, we channel our knowledge through our personal brand. It is central to who we are as professionals.