College Labor connects students with paying gigs

Nick Martino,left, and Kevin Mendizabal, right, receive instruction from College Labor customer Andrea Lamari. Lamari says she went online to Craigslist and found College Labor. “I chose College Labor because they do background checks,” said Lamari on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Photo by Erica Marquez / Xpress.

When SF State sophomore Kevin Mendizabal was in dire need of a job last semester, two of his closest friends directed him to a website where he doesn’t have to look for work. The work looks for him.

The website, College Labor, is a Bay Area network founded by San Francisco natives Joey Toboni and Justin Ohanessian. The site connects studentslike Mendizabal with people who are willing to pay college students for their labor.

Thus far, students from nine Bay Area schools, including SF State, have collectively earned themselves about $11,500 at $29 per hour for doing jobs like catering or helping with a move, according to the College Labor website.

“Our goal is not only make money, but how we can make this a good experience,” Ohanessian said.

The idea for College Labor came up when old high school friends Toboni and Ohanessian returned home from college during the summer of 2004 and their funds started to run dry. After a search for the perfect job came with no results, the pair started posting advertisements saying they would do anything for money.

Since then, they have both finished college, but continued with their business model and launched College Labor in September 2012.

Through College Labor, students sign up for the service and go through a brief screening before being admitted into the network. Students are then notified via text message, email or Twitter when a job becomes available.

The first person wanting to pick up the job has to pay a small percentage of the total job quote. According to the College Labor website, this is to ensure that the worker is committed to “show up on time, and to get the job done.” Ultimately, it is the student who is paying for the service.

“It’s easier than going out and handing out resumes,” second-year psychology major Ben Meis said.

Meis believes it’s a good idea, especially since it works with students’ schedules, but was unsure about the fee, calling it “kind of a turn off.”  He also showed concern that the jobs don’t provide steady, secure income.

Maria Guadalupe Diaz, a liberal arts senior, had a different perspective.

“You could see it as getting paid back,” she said. “I’m a little skeptic, but I do understand. It shows you’re responsible and dedicated to do the job. I would be up for it.”

Mendizabal now has a permanent job making deliveries, but still plans on doing gigs for College Labor. As of now, college labor has not lead to any career moves.

“It only benefits me so I don’t see why I would stop.  The way the system works, I guess, it’s perfect,” Mendizabal said. “Honestly, College Labor is a godsend. It’s nice to have extra money without it conflicting with school. I always recommend it.”

Plans for the website are to expand the network throughout the rest of the Bay Area, and eventually the entire state.