The upcoming summer break, for most of you, is a long one. Yes, you can binge watch the new series of ‘Orange is the New Black’, or wait with baited breath for the final series of ‘Game of Thrones’ in July. Although this does still leave you with a fair amount of free time. The summer months offer a perfect opportunity for students to gain extremely valuable employability skills, as well as the potential to earn some money. So what options are available to you?
1) Get a summer job. For those of you interested in making some money, this is probably your best option. You should, however, think about what else you are hoping to gain from this job. Retail work is always a popular option, and is also great if you are looking for some longer term employment. Supermarket chains often offer the potential to transfer stores when you go back to university, as well as the possibility of working for them again over Christmas and Easter.
For a summer-only job, why not do some bar work or stewarding at some of the biggest UK festivals? Recruitment agencies are looking to employ students for festivals all over the country, usually lasting between one day and a week. ‘HAP recruitment’ is one such agency currently interviewing for the upcoming festival season, and they can offer you some really good hourly rates. You also get the chance to see some of the artists playing, so it’s a win-win situation.
Retail and festival work allow you to gain vital, transferable skills that employers are always looking for. It is always worth, however, keeping an eye out for ‘relevant’ experience in the employment sector you are hoping to later pursue. For working with children, for example, see if any summer camps are being held in your local area. Whether it’s a music, arts and crafts or sports camp, you will gain important and necessary experience. Remember, there will most likely be training days prior to camps like this, as well as a ‘DBS’ check requirement.
2) Do some volunteer work. Volunteering is an incredibly worthwhile way to spend your summer. Dedicating your time to a worthy cause not only looks good on CV’s, but also allows you be involved in meaningful worldwide projects. For flexible work closer to home, search online and see if there are any schools or charities that are looking for volunteers to help them with local initiatives. If you are wanting to volunteer further afield, organisations such as ‘Bunac’ can offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be a part of volunteer programmes in
Thailand, South Africa and New Zealand. From teaching English as a foreign language, to participating in wildlife conservation ... there are many life-changing projects you could be a part of. However, beware of the upfront costs. Many projects require you to pay anything from £850-£1500 (and more) to cover travel and accommodation. Whilst undoubtedly rewarding, cost is definitely something to consider.
3) Look for an internship. This has become an increasingly popular way for students to gain experience in a potential future field of work. Yes, most are still unpaid (though not all). It really comes down to whether you need to prioritise monetary needs, or the opportunity of securing relevant work experience. Some sectors such as publishing and finance really like you to have some form of background involvement before applying for jobs with them. In such cases,
companies usually offer competitive 2-12 week internships for students. Get in contact with your university careers advisor and see what connections they have. Most advisors are more than happy to help you, even over the summer, and put you into contact with companies still looking for interns. Internships are hard work, but are extremely attractive to employers.
4) Complete some online courses. Why not try and get a step ahead before the start of the new academic year? ‘Open Learning’ is one scheme that offers hundreds of free online courses for you to try. The courses are usually run for 4-8 weeks, requiring you to complete a set of online tasks for a certain amount of hours per week. You can complete the tasks at any time, and are taught by prestigious university professors from across the world. You may want to complete a course related to your degree topic, or something completely different that just interests you. Either way, they are a great way to do some light and flexible learning over the summer and can also be put onto your CV.
Do something productive with your summer. There are a whole range of ways you can use your time effectively, so come September you won’t be questioning where the past three months have gone.
Ellie has just finished her second year at Cardiff University, studying English Language. She also writes a blog ‘Forget the World’ about lifestyle and university experiences.
Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.