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Make Extra Money by Becoming a Mechanical Turk

Written by Brett McKay

The New York Times had an interesting article on Sunday about businesses paying people to do small tasks that computers can’t. For example computers can’t look at a picture and count the number of happy people in a picture. Neither can it easily recognize the difference between a picture of an oak tree and a maple tree. These differences can be important when organizing information. What many search engine companies are doing is outsourcing this work to humans, who can do these kinds of things easily.

Amazon.com has created a site called Mechanical Turk (a mechanical turk recalls a famous 18th-century hoax, where what seemed to be a chess-playing automaton really concealed a human chess master.) where people can sign up to take on Human Intelligence Tasks (HIT). A HIT might consist of looking at a photo and telling if it contains a pizza parlor. A computer would have hard time doing this, but a person can do it in a matter of seconds.

Most HIT’s reward just a few cents for each task, but it all adds up. The article discussed a disabled former military officer spending two hours a day on HITs. He earns about $100 a week. Not too shabby.

Being a mechanical turk seems like an easy way to earn some extra cash while in school. It’s not going to make you rich, but it can at least give you some extra money to pay those bills.

Hat tip to my lovely wife for telling me about the article.

How to Make Money While in Law School (or Graduate School, or Undergrad…):Become a Research Assistant

Written by Brett McKay


If you want to mitigate student debt while in school, cutting spending is half the battle. You’re going to have to earn some extra income if you truly want to limit debt. An excellent way to earn extra income is becoming a research assistant for a professor.

Why is being a research assistant one of the best ways to earn extra money? Let us count the ways.

  1. The pay is decent. I was surprised to see how much professors at my school were offering for research assistants. Most are offering $10 an hour. Not too shabby.
  2. The hours are flexible. Professors are probably the best bosses to have while in school. They want you to put your studies first, so they’ll work with you to develop a schedule that works the both of you. You won’t have to worry about your grades slipping because of lack of time while you’re a research assistant.
  3. You sharpen your research skills. Look at being a research assistant as being paid to be mentored. Professors will work with you and give you tips on how to research better. The research skills you take away from that will be an asset to for the rest of your legal career. And remember, you’re getting paid to do it!
  4. You sharpen your writing skills. Writing is an essential skill in the legal field. You’ll have the opportunity to get feedback from individuals who something about legal writing.
  5. You create an awesome reference. After you’re time as a research assistant, most professors will be happy to serve as a reference for you in your job search. Many will even write letters of recommendations for you.

Start looking for a research assistant position today. If none of your professors are actively seeking one, make a list of your favorite professors and offer you services to them. Many will be happy to hire you.

Start looking for a research assistant position today. If none of your professors are actively seeking one, make a list of your favorite professors and offer you services to them. Many will be happy to hire you.

More and More Teenagers are Starting Businesses

Written by Brett McKay

Here’s another great New York Times Article on teenagers starting their own business. It seems like millennials are interested in making money doing things they enjoy. The internet has driven this collective interest in making money. This desire to make money has manifested itself in the people millennials choose as role models. Instead of looking to athletes or politicians as role models, many millennials look to business people like Bill Gate or Steve Jobs to fill this role.

I think it’s great that young people are learning so much about money at such an early age. I wish I had the financial savvy that many of the teenagers covered in the article have when I was their age. I blew most of my income from high school jobs on Taco Bell, CDs, and movies. I can only imagine if I invested that… dang.

Lesson learned: Teach kids about the value of money