Millennials are flocking to ride-sharing services — for job opportunities

By Maclain McGlohon, Studio M staff //

Seth Sides, 24, landed a pretty great day job after graduating from Middle Tennessee State University as a software developer and computer programmer for InfoWorks in Nashville.

A few months ago, he started working nights, too … as an Uber driver.

Many young Nashvillians are turning to Lyft and Uber for extra cash.

“I like how convenient and easy it is just to make a little bit of extra money,” says Sides. He makes a couple hundred dollars a week and likes to turn on the app whenever he’s bored.

Uber and Lyft are popular around the Nashville and Murfreesboro area, especially for college students who may need help getting home after a night out.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, Uber has gained more millennial customers than any other company in the United States. BrandIndex also states that 26 percent of millennials said they had used Uber in the last 60 days and 12.3 percent said they used Lyft. Sides says he joined Uber instead of Lyft for the convenience of the ride-sharing service and because “it’s a little more popular.”

MTSU senior Cody Pratt, 22, decided to join Uber for extra money as well.

“(I got the job there) so I wouldn’t have a liability of a job where I had to actually show up at a certain time, and with Uber I can just do it whenever,” Pratt says.   

Uber might be dominating the market, but Lyft isn’t far behind. According to tnooz and a study by research house ReportLinker, brand awareness for Uber with millennials was 96 percent, with Lyft at 75 percent.  

Sarabeth Powell, 23, works full-time in Nashville as an executive assistant at a social media agency but works as a Lyft driver on the side, because it helps pay for her student loans.

“The pay is great,” Powell says, adding, “I’ve met some pretty cool people, whether it’s something that could be a business connection or just a cool person to chat with that might have a cool story. Also, the flexibility of the schedule (is) one of my favorite parts.”

According to alvia.com, a typical salary for Lyft drivers is roughly $31,574 per year. It also depends on the amount of hours drivers drive, what days of the week they drive on and what areas they drive in.

Sontoya Crutchfield, 27, is a full-time driver for Lyft. Like most of the millennials that have joined the ride-sharing business, she also decided to do Lyft for the convenience. Crutchfield likes being able to use the app on her way to go somewhere and make some extra money.

“I don’t see an end date (driving for Lyft),” says Crutchfield, “I already put gas in my car, I keep my car clean so, I don’t have an end date, because it is such easy money.”

But what makes this trend so appealing to millennials?

“(The appeal) I think is that it is going to be flexible and it’s fast money,” says Jeremy Prewitt, branch manager at Trojan Labor, a temporary staffing service in Nashville. “It’s like the money is in your account in a couple of days, and you’re like, ‘Oh hey, I can go do whatever.’

He adds that there’s also a downside.

“You have to take in consideration that wear-and-tear on your vehicle, you’re responsible for insurance coverage, the gas, the type of people you’re putting into your car, whether they’re going to damage it, you have to keep it clean,” Prewitt says.

Says Sides: “If you’ve got a decent car that gets OK gas mileage, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to do this for a little bit of extra money on the side.”

Maclain McGlohon is a junior majoring in journalism at Middle Tennessee State University.

Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU, allows student journalists to be published statewide and nationwide. It’s made possible through grants and donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Tennessean and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

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