A unique Edmonton start-up is helping post-secondary students find work to get out of debt.

This new online job board in the city aims to give students work experience and money making tools on their terms and time.

University of Alberta Masters student Kalli Frissell is doing hard labour in a stranger’s yard, all while digging her way out of student debt.

“It’s kind of hard to manage a part-time or a full-time job,” Frissell said.

She was hired to do some landscaping through StudentHire, a website that connects University students to Edmonton residents looking for specific jobs to be done.

“This was a good option for me because it’s really flexible and I can just kind of work around my own schedule and apply for the jobs that really are interesting to me,” Frissell said.

In this case, the program matched Frissell with Debbie Dickson.

“I had some mulch in the garden I needed to replace with rock,” Dickson said. “I live by myself so I needed some help to do it.”

The startup was created in 2016 by a group of business students at MacEwan University for a project. It gives students the opportunity to list the skills they have and apply them to odd jobs through the city.

Co-founder Richard Clark said it started as a small venture on Facebook, but grew quickly.

“We launched the site two months ago,” Clark said. “We have over a thousand users on the site. We're getting about five to six jobs a day.”

Students can sign up to receive notifications when a job opens in their field of expertise, and then apply for hire. A possible employer with a job can also either post their job and wait for applications, or seek out the perfect fit by searching through available students on their own.

Jobs range from music lessons, to tutoring, photography, design and all sorts of manual labour work.

“People want to help students, bottom line,” Clark said. “People really care. Either their daughter was a student, they know a student, or you were a student yourself.”

A survey done in 2015 by the Canadian University Survey Consortium revealed the average student debt was $13,331. However, when they took out the students who didn’t have debt, the average doubled to $26,819.

Student debt is something the company wants to help tackle.

“Our goal would actually be for a student to pay their tuition using StudentHire – that would be awesome,” Clark said. “That's why we started StudentHire, so that really students can have an avenue to make money throughout the semester.”

As for Dickson, she has back problems and couldn’t do heavy lifting on her own, but hiring Frissell came with more than one benefit.

“I did get an estimate from a company, and they weren't going to do any more [work] than Kalli would do without charging me a whole lot more money,” she said.

Dickson said she paid one third of the price with StudentHire, as compared to using a landscaping company, and she is so happy with the service that she hired the student to come back.

StudentHire only operates in Edmonton right now, but the group is hoping to expand their services to post-secondary communities nation-wide.