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How to Balance a Food Service Hustle While Teaching (Though You Shouldn’t Have to)


How to Balance a Food Service Hustle While Teaching (Though You Shouldn't Have to)

Want to know what should never happen? A teacher gets home from school, downs a cup of coffee, then heads off to her “next” job as a waitress. Not only is this exhausting for one of the most “respected” professions in our country, but it also doesn’t allow any teacher to fully do the unseen work of grading, preparing lesson plans, and mentally recovering for the next day with 30 students again. But as we know, teachers frequently work side jobs anyway. One in three teachers say their salaries aren’t enough to make ends meet, one in five say they have an additional job, and many of them are choosing non-education fields for their “side hustles,” where they earn up to $1000 more than those working in fields related to teaching.

While we all wait, struggle, and push for change, the reality is that your waitress may also have taught your child earlier that day. As tough as a side hustle in food service can be, it might be one of the most lucrative choices (we all know that teacher who also makes quite a bit of tip money as a bartender on weekends or during the summer). Here are some tips, if you are venturing into the food service world, for maintaining your schedule and sanity (and 5 lucrative side hustles if food service isn’t your thing).

1. Search for that dream side hustle–weekends only

How to Balance a Food Service Hustle While Teaching (Though You Shouldn't Have to)

This especially works for restaurants and bars that focus on late evening/night hours, as no teacher can work ten hours per day (or more) and turn around and do it again all night. Instead, look for opportunities that allow you to work Saturday nights, or weekend hours, to keep your sleep schedule semi-regular. Ask your local bar if they need more backup on busy weekend evenings, or even during a Saturday happy hour. You also might find brunch cafes that are more popular on weekends and can use a hand.

2. Look for a flexible gig that doesn’t have to be the same year-round

How to Balance a Food Service Hustle While Teaching (Though You Shouldn't Have to)

Sure, the manager loves that you have a Master’s and know how to handle 30 people at the same time. If they want you bad enough, they may also consider ramping up your summer hours, and easing off when August rolls around again. In addition, finding a more flexible part-time food service job gives you the chance to increase hours during breaks or when you have more time and energy throughout the school year.

3. Be a teacher who can also sling a cocktail (not at the same time, of course)

How to Balance a Food Service Hustle While Teaching (Though You Shouldn't Have to)

If you’ve been “careful” in the past about ethical behavior outside of school, don’t write off bartending too quickly. Sure, you are dealing with alcohol, but you aren’t drinking it – you are working. If you are still uncomfortable, you can choose a bar a bit further from your school to ensure you aren’t running into parents, colleagues, and community members during your shift. However, if you do, it’s still a great way for them to see that, yes, your school sure does need to give teachers that pay bump next contract! Bartenders, according to Indeed, can make an average base pay of $12.16 per hour, in addition to $150 tips daily…that means your Saturday evening could lead to well over $200 per night. No shame in that!

4. Ask if your neighborhood after school hangout spot needs a little extra help

How to Balance a Food Service Hustle While Teaching (Though You Shouldn't Have to)

You know the place–coffee shops, ice cream stores, and taco joints right near the high school in many towns get slammed right after school. Students seeking a place to chill with their friends, get an after-school snack, or work with their study group mean that some of these restaurants could use a few hours of help right after school – right when you are free. By following a typical high schooler’s schedule, you can move from the final bell to the coffee shop and still be home for dinner at six without a major disruption to your schedule. Just don’t let your students talk you into serving coffee and answering homework questions at the same time!

5. Seek out donut store hours

How to Balance a Food Service Hustle While Teaching (Though You Shouldn't Have to)

If you are an early bird and can swing a few early morning weekend shifts, donut shops are the way to go. They open before the sun and you are done by 10 in the morning, when all of the donuts and bagels are gone. Owners may also be open to weekend-only shifts, or maybe just one or two before-school shifts, because they can’t handle the weekend rush. Negotiate in a side perk that you can take the extra donuts home when they close!

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Alexandra Frost

Alexandra Frost is a freelance journalist and high school publications teacher in Cincinnati, OH. She's worked with other publications such as Glamour, Women's Health, Reader's Digest, and more. She has three young sons under age four and has been teaching high school for ten years. She encourages her students to develop communication skills, independence, and a passion for writing in their authentic writers' voices. To connect or read more of her work please her website or follow her on social media: Twitter Instagram Linked In.

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