What you need to know about delivery service jobs


When the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the U.S. in January 2020, college students in California saw a decrease in job opportunities. With the closure of college campuses, students could no longer rely on campus jobs. In between Zoom meetings, managing project deadlines and an ongoing pandemic, finding a job with manageable hours isn’t easy. 

So what kinds of jobs are currently available for students? As a college student searching for work, I decided to do some research in June as I wanted to find something that was flexible and could work with my class schedule.  

This was when I discovered the expanding realm of delivery jobs. I found that working for a delivery service proved to be convenient, as employees are able to create a self-paced work schedule and are left to manage their own time and working hours. So from one fellow student to another, here is a breakdown of places where you can seek employment amidst the current chaos of the job market and what you can expect to encounter on the job.   


The Delivery Services:

COVID-19 has instilled fear in people when it comes to leaving home and carrying out mundane tasks and chores that previously were a part of everyday life. With social distancing becoming the new normal, people shy away from going to the grocery store or eating in public spaces.

For this reason, grocery and food delivery services have seen a dramatic increase in popularity since COVID-19 struck the U.S. in March. Instacart, for example, which is one of the most popular grocery delivery apps, lets users shop from local grocery stores online and then sends a “personal shopper” to collect and deliver their groceries for them that same day. 

Instacart employees can choose when and where they want to work, and also has an easy delivery system that helps new employees make money at a faster rate. 

“Instacart makes it really easy to start working right away. They send you a pre-loaded credit card during the process of completing a background check. By the time the card came to me in a week, I was able to start working for the company,” said Megan Tucker, a recent graduate of Azusa Pacific, on her experience working for Instacart. 

Tucker has been using Instacart as a side job to provide for herself during the pandemic.

While the business is promising, Instacart failed to warn their employees of curfew hours and new rules that emerged as a result of the worsening state of the pandemic, putting some of their employees in jeopardy. One employee was arrested in June when they were out past their city’s curfew. The employee pleaded to police officers that he was an essential worker, but  even the Instacart app was not considered proof of his employment.   

Since the luxury of sitting inside of a restaurant to enjoy a meal has also been severely restricted, many have begun to resort to takeout food options. The percentage of the public that orders from delivery services has increased as people have spent more and more time at home.  

DoorDash is an online delivery network that gives users the option to have restaurant food delivered right to their doorstep. Employees can deliver for almost any food chain by becoming a “Dasher,” which is basically being a driver for the company

Base pay from DoorDash to their employees ranges from $2-$10+ per delivery, including tips that are also immediately accounted for. DoorDash employees receive personal discounts off their own meal deliveries as well.  

If you’re looking to do a bit of everything, the best place to work at is Postmates. Postmates is a delivery service that connects customers with local couriers who can deliver almost anything, from your favorite restaurants or retailers in less than an hour.

Working at Postmates enables employees to choose what they want to shop for. They can choose to either work at a quicker pace and pick up restaurant orders, or spend more time in a store while gathering groceries.

“Postmates is the ironman of all the delivery apps. You have the option of accepting orders from customers requesting something from either a restaurant or a retail store. This gives you the flexibility needed to plan your day and determine how much you are willing to work then,”said Oscar Hernandez, a junior at Azusa Pacific who works for Postmates. 


The downfalls

The downside to delivery jobs is that the employee is responsible for their own safety, despite the fact that it is their job that exposes them to COVID-19 related risks. 

While these jobs are beneficial for those seeking immediate employment, many of them have been publicly scrutinized for not increasing their employee’s pay to compensate for the risks that their job exposes them to as they enter grocery stores and restaurants to pick up orders.

They have also been criticized for not providing their employees with the necessary equipment to protect themselves on the job. Many Instacart workers never received the safety supplies that the company promised to provide employees with in April, which were to include a reusable face cloth, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a forehead thermometer. As an Instacart employee, I never received the kit. This made the job more difficult as I had to rely on finding my own safety supplies.  

When working, I always made sure to wear a mask. But this did not push the fear I had of being exposed to the virus away. Some stores did not offer hand sanitizer, and it was as if social distancing did not matter. I also requested a mask from Instacart, but all I received from them was a very flimsy piece of material that is quite unsuitable for protecting employees. 

Because the employees are considered to be independent contractors, delivery companies are not required to provide them with a minimum wage or any benefits. United States Senator Elizabeth Warren sent letters to multiple delivery services in April, pushing these businesses to start considering their workers as real people. 

Another downside is these jobs do not guarantee consistent pay. Some days are slower than others, and in order to make a living, employees must put in a lot of work to earn an adequate amount of money.

Employees are also required to work under a lot of pressure. In order to succeed at this job, workers must be able to multitask and complete tasks in a timely manner.

As a courier, you also need a car as well as a valid driver’s license. Due to the amount of driving that these jobs necessitate, it is important for employees to consider keeping track of their mileage and calculating the expenses that they accumulate as a result of it. 

Although there is no specified number of how many delivery service employees have contracted COVID-19, many have reported experiencing symptoms within their first week on the job. For this reason, it is up to the employee to decide whether they are willing to face the risks that may arise on the job.