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Getting that step ahead this summer

Getting that step ahead this summer

28 July, 2015

All kinds of possibility lies before students when summer comes around, so how can you ensure that this time is used productively?

As the weight of exam strain and coursework deadlines begins to ease and the academic year draws to a close, any student could be forgiven for wanting to wind down for the summer. Some opportunity to relax is vital, although it is easy to let this free time pass without really using it to its full potential. When it comes to making plans for the summer to enable you to gain an advantage with your potential career path there are a variety of avenues to explore.

Undertake an internship

The subject knowledge you are able to gain from your chosen course will of course stand you in extremely good stead moving forward in your future career. Alongside this, the right connections tend to prove pivotal in getting that often elusive foot in the door within an industry. Whether on a break after your first year or if you have just finished your course, an internship is undoubtedly worth taking into consideration. Although this kind of arrangement does not tend to provide much in the way of remuneration, at least at first, it can give you hands-on experience and the chance to lay the foundations so you have something in place once your studies are complete.

Seek a temporary paid position

Understandably, not everyone is in a position to take on voluntary or low-paying work, or the idea may simply not appeal. A summer job is the ideal way to boost your finances ahead of your next year of study. As this is a popular route to pursue for many students it is advantageous to arrange this some time in advance of the summer. One of the most useful pieces of advice for a situation such as this is to go into it with an open mind. Whether you manage to secure your dream summer job or not, the chance to meet new people, earn money and potentially learn new skills is worth trying for.

Email is fantastic for reaching out to multiple people and places. In addition to this method, remember that there can sometimes be no substitute for putting yourself out there and enquiring in person or handing in your CV. There is also the option of carrying out work on a freelance basis, perhaps offering to take on some manual tasks (washing cars or gardening are great examples) in your local area. There is a lot to explore and thinking outside the box can get you far.

Shadow a professional

This is perhaps more unusual, although certainly worth thinking about. If you have a clear idea of the type of work you are looking to use your studies to get into then spend some time studying the paths that leaders in your chosen field took to reach where they now are. Rather than looking to replicate their journey it is an idea for gaining inspiration and you can take this a step further by actually arranging to spend some time shadowing a current industry professional. Getting to witness first-hand the work they do and how they go about it, as well as obtaining some great tips relevant to your own career, can be very beneficial.

Seek a new environment abroad

For international students who are undertaking a course which is not delivered in their native language, spending some time in a country that speaks it is highly recommended. There are so many initiatives that support such opportunities and even if you are studying in your own country it could be a fantastic choice to go abroad for a few weeks or longer. One example of how to go about this is as a summer camp leader, so if this is of interest then look into the organisations which provide these summer positions. Whether you wish to venture abroad to gain experience related to your studies or not, placing yourself in a position which requires you to sharpen your communication skills is always likely to be useful. In the professional world it helps if you are able to articulate your ideas through various means and with individuals and groups from a mix of backgrounds and cultures.

Become a volunteer

Every little step forward you can make from a career perspective is of value, although simply taking time out to give help to others is a terrific thing to do, no matter what the circumstances may be. Charitable projects are everywhere to be found, or maybe you want to offer your assistance at a public event, such as a festival, for example. There are lots of ways to volunteer and aside from helping people you might just widen your own skill set and broaden your mind in the process.

Refine your CV and personal statement

In your later years at school, teachers begin to stress the importance of having your CV and personal statement up-to-date and ready to showcase to people. It is when you enter further education and the working world that you truly get to recognise their importance. When you are caught up in assignments and exam revision during term time it will understandably fall down the list of priorities so why not use a little bit of your summer vacation to refine them? Any experience you gain from the list of options above should be seen as a worthy addition to both your CV and your personal statement.

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