How to Make Money While Still Studying

Here's how I managed to earn enough money live on whilst also continuing my studies.

How to Make Money While Still Studying

Being a student, especially when away from parents and studying in an expensive city, is really challenging. In my country Turkey, where studying at university is pretty expensive, students have been working for many years to be able to scrape by. I studied and continue to live in Istanbul, Turkey's most expensive city but also where the best universities are. It took me 3 tries to enter a decent university (3rd time's the charm, right?), so I had actually started working before I began studying. Here's how I managed to earn enough money live on whilst also continuing my studies.


Let’s go back to 2006. The year started well, but then I screwed everything up by not entering a decent university, not passing the military schools’ exams (I’m a man of discipline, it was my childhood dream, please don't judge!) and even the police academy exam. I was devastated, I felt like I had let my family down, etc etc. So, I needed to regain my confidence. I needed a temporary job.  After applying for a couple, I took a job in a movie rental place. My daily wage was 10 TL + lunch... It was basically nothing but luckily, I was still living with my family who didn't ask me to pay rent or buy groceries, so I could keep all the money to myself. I quit this job after some time.


2007 was a really good year, because my family and I finally started to get along. I guess my teenage blues had ended... I focused on my exams and I started a second job - teaching. I was one of the few people who could speak a second language well. I started teaching a few kids in a local institution to earn some pocket money. Teaching can be a really good option for anyone, whatever topic you are giving classes in. In my case it was English. If you’re good at a any school subject, you can always do private tutoring. I was also doing babysitting at the same time. It was easy for me because I had already helped my mom a lot with my brother and sister. But even with this experience, as a guy it can be hard to find babysitting jobs. If we look at the figures they pay, private tutoring starts around 100 TL, while babysitting can net you around 120 these days. Good money for these hard times.


In 2008 the real challenge started. I finally entered a decent university, Istanbul University. This meant I had to move to Turkey's most crowded and expensive city. The first few months were okay financially, my dad sent me enough money to get by and I spent it frugally. But when my father’s company was sold by the government, suddenly he wasn't earning as much money as before. I decided to find a job for myself, and then a friend of mine gave me an idea - buying and selling musical instruments. Shipping standards were not that good at that time and musical instruments were really expensive in my hometown Afyon. It was simple - my friends back home told me what they wanted, I found affordable items and once a month I delivered them to Afyon. They paid me the expenses. But then I realised the drawback off this job. Turns out musical instruments can be really expensive! I did this “trading” for 2 years, and I just about managed to earn enough to live on. But I didn't save a single lira. Bummer.

Saving is part of earning money, so save as much as you can fellas. Or one day you’ll be stuck in your tiny hometown for the whole summer while your friends are having fun at the beach.


My rock bar days started in 2010. Bear in mind this job isn't for you if you don't like being on your feet for 10 hours straight, dealing with drunk and demanding customers, working with bad boss(es), and having a nocturnal lifestyle. I jumped right in and worked non-stop till 2012. The money was okay, I could arrange the dates I wanted to work, it didn’t interfere with my studies too much, I got tips from customers, and most importantly, I got free booze! And finally I was saving a lot. I went on holidays and spent my money pretty recklessly. I also loved meeting so many new people all the time. These days you can expect a bar job to pay you around 75-150 TL. I still work in bars occasionally – you never fully leave!


While I was bartending, I also started doing translating jobs on the side. Translation is a surprisingly big game. Also, at the time I started, subtitled movies had just begun gaining popularity, and I earned good money. The bad side about this job Is payday. Often you will get paid up to 45 days after you completed the work! However, if you work regularly, you start to get used to the situation. Also, you’ll get paid twice in the same month. The price scale depends on several things: the length of the show or movie, the number of words, the language etc. These days you can earn minimum 100 TL, I really don’t know about the maximum, but a couple of my friends recently earned around 3000 TL for translating just one 60-minute episode of a famous Spanish show! The fewer speakers of the language, the more you will earn.


One thing I still regret to this day is not fully understanding the importance of internships when I was younger. I have tons of work experience, but mostly at odd jobs. If you want to do a specific job, find internships in that job as early as you can, and yes that even includes unpaid ones. You’ll definitely appreciate it and understand its importance later on in life.

So these were the jobs I was doing while studying, some of which I continue to do today. Whatever you do to earn money for your studies, be honest and keep it clean. Don’t forget you’re still a student, and your studies always come first at the end of the day. And try to save a little!