Side Gigs for International Students in the U.S.

Side Gigs for International Students in the U.S.

For people studying abroad regardless of the aid that received, money can definitely become an issue. Thus, having a part-time gig is great in terms of footing your bills, or simply for having cash for some leisure activities in your free time. So, if you’re thinking about having a side job while you study in the United States, know that you’re far from being alone. But not every kind of work is good in this context; on the one hand, you need something that will net you enough money to be worthwhile, while on the other hand, you don’t want something that will interrupt your studies. Don’t worry, though — we have all of the info you need right here!

Job Requirements

If you want to find a good way to make additional money as an international student in the U.S., there are a few factors regarding every job that you need to think about first. Primarily, what kind of part-time job will fit reasonably well within your lifestyle. In other words, you still need time for classes and studying.

Also, ideally, this kind of job would allow you to develop better English language skills. The job should also help you integrate into the local culture, while meeting some new friends in the process. Lastly, the job should also provide work experience that will be valuable in the future.

It should also be noted that you can’t include part-time student work in the “proof of funds” section on your visa application, which is a common misconception international students have. So, keeping all of this in mind — just what kinds of jobs are available out there? We’ve got a couple of suggestions.

Working on Campus

Among international students, working at the university itself is definitely one of the most sought-after options. In the United States, depending on the state where you attend school, this could be the only type of work you have legally available. But that shouldn’t be a problem as most U.S. campuses function like small microcosms of larger daily life. In other words, there are plenty of different jobs available on campus, from working in computer centers to cafeteria and shop work.

Plus, there’s always the students’ union — a great way to quickly find yourself in the midst of currently hot topics and issues, whilst also helping out your fellow university students. Again, depending on the university in question and its union, you may even find yourself working on projects that provide all kinds of assistance to other students who aren’t from the United States.

As someone who’s from abroad, finding a job on campus has lots of advantages; you can easily get to know new peers, work on your English skills, and all in all, attain some valuable work experience. Remember, your social life will hugely benefit from working on campus since all of your colleagues will be other students as well.

Of course, there are downsides to this kind of work: primarily, the fact that there isn’t a limitless number of jobs, and there are a lot of both domestic and international students who need work and money. Thus, be prepared for some tough competition in this regard. Be prepared to show eagerness and enthusiasm even for jobs that aren’t objectively fun and exciting.

Bars and Restaurants

One thing that springs up around college campuses are cafes, restaurants, and bars. For people who need to earn a few bucks on the side, there’s nothing better than finding employment in a place like this. First of all, busy restaurants are bound to look for help quite often, so you won’t have to search high and low to find a job. Also, depending on your skill level and experience, there are all kinds of positions you could be working in: kitchen staff, bar staff, waiter, etc.

While you might need strong English-language skills if you want to earn enough tips for this to be worthwhile, you usually don’t need any formal requirements or past work experience. Sure, some high-end places do ask for experienced staff, but you’re not likely to find a lot of these near college campuses. So, this is a great work opportunity for any international student who’s looking to spruce up their monthly budget. Not to mention all of the different people you’ll meet while you’re working!

As with most things, though, there is a drawback. If you want to hit the busiest (and thus, most profitable) hours in a bar or restaurant, those will be during evenings and weekends. So, your free time for leisure activities will be severely impacted, not to mention getting to seminars and early morning lectures on time. While evening and night shifts might be a challenge to your study habits, if you manage the balancing act, it’s good work.

Call Centers

International students can find work at all kinds of call centers. If you want to practice your language skills and show off your communicative side, this is certainly something to try out. And unlike most of the other small-time jobs that we’ve talked about here, call centers can turn out to be quite lucrative. So, if you need to make a big contribution to your regular budget, this is a great option. Plus, if you’re someone who can’t do or doesn’t handle physical work that well, this is perfect as it’s in an office environment.

Bear in mind, though, that these kinds of jobs can have night shifts as well. So, it’s not always ideal in terms of scheduling, but it more than pays off when you get paid. On the other hand, it can also be psychologically demanding, as customer service can be challenging.


As you can see, there are plenty of jobs that international students in the United States can do. However, some of these will have a bigger effect on your ability to stay on top of your academic responsibilities more than others, though they usually pay better too. So, it seems like you’ve got some thinking to do before selecting the best possible job for you — but once you do, it will definitely be an enriching experience.

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