Beyond the Cubicle: My First Day as an InstaCart Shopper

I needed a mental break. 

I was stretching my brain for hours as I was building my financial services concierge firm and reading the Tax Cuts and Job Act to understand how individuals, businesses, and crypto enthusiasts would be impacted by Tax Reform. I always want to make sure my clients have the latest and greatest information at their disposal so they can live the life of their dreams.

And here’s a question that will make you freeze faster than the Chicago winters:

Have you ever tried to take a stab at reading the tax code?

OMG. It will drive you crazy if you’re not used to reading tax lingo. Make sure you join groups that keep you informed about the latest tax and money updates so you can be in the know. 

So what’s a Career Goddess to do when she needs to stimulate her brain and increase her productivity?

She immerses herself in a completely different activity that builds another side of her mental prowess.

I started researching activities that would meet these requirements:

  • Physical activity (after staring at a computer screen for hours, I needed to upgrade my FitBit game and get more steps)
  • Money (why not make money while you are trying to stimulate your creativity?)
  • Growth (I love to learn. If there’s a chance to learn a new skill that will help me become a better me, I’m all in!)
  • People ( I am an introvert but I love meeting new people)

So I stumbled upon….

Drumroll please. 


What is InstaCart?

It’s a service that allows you to shop for other people or drop off groceries and other items. It’s an app-based gig that allows you to pick hours and accept assignments to shop for people (whenever you want!). You may be assigned to shop at Whole Foods Market, Target, Mariano’s, or other stores that have a partnership with InstaCart.

When do you get paid?

Every week! Say what? Yeah, you typically get paid every Wednesday. It all depends on your bank processing time.

How do you sign up?

If you want to try it, just go online and apply. You don’t need references, a statement of interest, or resume. It’s super easy to apply and you can do it during your lunch break. It’s a great way to gain exposure to the other side of living if you’ve always been attached to a cubicle.

Make sure you use my referral link.

When you use my referral code, you’ll get a free strategy session after you complete your first 40 hours! How cool is that?!


Day 1: Getting Over the Fear of Failure

It’s normal.

We all get jitters when we are going to start something new. But the more things you try outside of your comfort zone, the less anxiety you’ll feel when you cross new territories. 

So get out there and stretch your comfort zone!

That’s exactly what I did when I signed up to work outdoors on one of the coldest days of the year.

What the heck was I thinking? 

Well, I was on a mission.

A career goddess doesn’t let anything get in her way. If you can survive the cold, then you won’t be intimidated when things are outside the normal temperatures in your business.

Just make sure you are covered with the right attire to avoid getting ill. Click here for the best activewear when it starts getting nippy outside.

Here we go…

I was soooooo nervous.

I was praying that I didn’t mess anything up.

I never worked in a store before and am not Chef Charlene (not yet!), so I was hoping that this wouldn’t be too hard for a corporate queen.

Start Time…

I decided to sign up for a shift in Central North from 3:00-10:00 PM. You can sign up for any time frame that is available just as long as you sign up for a minimum two hour period.

Thirty minutes before my shift started, I received a text message from InstaCart:

Charlene, your shift is starting at 3:00pm. We are actively working to get a batch for you. Please refer to your zone’s (Chicago North) map for guidance.”

Oh my…what did I get myself into?

No Work at 3PM..

It was 3PM and I had no idea what to do. Was I suppose to check-in?

No. I just needed to be patient.

And what the heck is patience anyway?

Go into your InstaShopper App and you will notice that your dashboard no longer says “Off Shift” when your time starts. You just have to wait until you receive a text from InstaCart letting you know that you have been offered a batch.

After you receive the text message from InstaCart, you will need to go to your InstaShopper App to accept the assignment. The assignment will either be “Full Service Shopper” or “Delivery Only”.

I received my first assignment around 3:20.

Ok, let’s do this!

First Delivery..

I accepted my first batch and had to drive to the requested store in my area to pick up the bags.

The InstaShopper app showed me how many bags I had to grab and how many customers I had.

I had to grab around 8 bags for 3 customers. Bags are stored in either the fridge, freezer, or shelf. When you find your customer bags, you have to scan each barcode on the bag using your app. 

Don’t get nervous. It’s super easy after you do it once.

When you have scanned all the bags in the store for your customers, it is now time to drop off the bags at the different homes.

Delivery Time…

Go to your InstaShopper app and swipe “delivery” when you are ready to deliver the bags. You will be timed. There is an expected delivery time for each person on your delivery list. You will be graded on your promptness.

Say what?

Yeah, that’s what I said. It’s like a heart pumping, adrenaline rushing experience when you are timed on how fast you grab the bags from each store and deliver to your customers.

Talk about a workout! 


You will get paid per delivery and you may also get tips. They will give you tips via the app or in cash when you drop off your delivery.

I didn’t get any cash tips on my first day and I started to question my performance. Girrrrrllll…..

You can’t let lack of tips discourage you. It’s a service based business and you are dealing with all types of peeps. Plus, you might get surprise tips in the app after your deliveries.

So calm down…

Next Batch…

After I completed all of my deliveries in my first batch, I had to swipe that deliveries were completed. Then I received another text message from InstaCart:

Charlene, we are actively working to get a batch for you. Stay tuned, and please refer to your zone’s map for guidance.

Then I received a text message informing me that I received another batch at Jewel-Osco. This time I had to shop for the customer.


I hardly ever do much shopping for myself so how the heck am I going to shop for others?

You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.

So I walked into the store and realized I had to shop for 2 people.

What the what? On my first day? And I had about 1 hour to make it happen.

I grabbed two different shopping carts and labeled one “A” and the other “B” so that I didn’t confuse the customer orders.

I ran through the store finding and scanning the grocery items on the list. I had never even heard of some of the items. People were asking for things like “blood oranges, Ritter Sport milk chocolate, and Caviar Russe Tobiko Caviar.

Now I know you’ve probably heard of these things, but I have not. So I was running through the stores trying to figure out where these items would be.

I must say that I did learn a lot about food and plan to get in the kitchen one day to try some of these foods I found out about. Stay tuned!


Overall, it was a great learning experience. I’m not saying I’ll be a lifelong InstaCart shopper, but I am saying that I learned about an opportunity that was completely different from anything I had ever taken on in my life.

And everything wasn’t perfectly planned on my first day.

I didn’t find everything on my list quickly and did have to consult with someone in grocery to help me find the items I was looking for.

And that’s exactly how life is. You will not know all the answers and you have to be comfortable asking others for guidance in order to avoid wasting valuable time.

I did my best and that’s all that you can do in any given situation. Sometimes you won’t get what you want and other times you will get more than you expected.

After beating myself up for how slow I was going, I received the weekly InstaCart results in my email. And it was shocking!

I was ranked the #1 shopper out of 265 shoppers in Chicago Central. WOWZERS!

The Best Part…

I have more income sources that I can use to start investing in other assets and multiply my money in the markets! Woohoo!

Are you ready to add one more income stream to your income statement in 2018? How about adding more assets to your balance sheet?

Join The Great Wealth Transfer and we’ll show you how to do it!

Bio: After becoming the first Certified Public Accountant to win the title of Ms. Corporate America 2015 in a pageant held in Orlando, Fl, Charlene created the Career Goddess Academy. She shares her money, health, travel, and career advice all over the web as a contributor for the Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, The Path Mag, Women on Business, Ms. Career Girl, and other sites. In 2015, she was recognized as the Illinois CPA Young Professional Leader of the Year. 

Charlene now works on the set of the most popular TV shows, including EMPIRE, Chicago PD, Chicago Med and Chicago Fire.

Do you need a guest speaker? Contact Charlene at 

Charlene Rhinehart

I’m Charlene - International Speaker, Published Writer, & Career Strategist. I help women skip the most common career mistakes, move from fear to confidence, and enhance their professional profile so that they can create a life that is better than their dreams.

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