Thanks to Inspiring Interns for this guest contribution.
The grey and rainy British summer is ticking by, and it’s not too long now students will be heading back to university. It’s a time where many of you will find yourselves wondering where the time has gone, and what on earth you’ve been doing for the past few weeks.
Relaxing and enjoying your break is important, and there’s nothing like a few days spent sleeping and lazing around in front of the TV. However, as time goes on, the initial bliss can turn to boredom, and you might start feeling a bit stir crazy. At that point, it’s time to start thinking about how you can best use the rest of your summer.
Even late in the day, there are loads of things you can get up to that will benefit you, relieving the boredom, giving you a sense of purpose, and even boosting your career prospects. So take a look at our list of recommendations, and see if there’s anything that can tempt you off the sofa.
Get a last minute internship
Missed the boat on getting an internship early in the summer? All is not lost; many companies continue to offer internships and work experience to eager students right up until till the start of term. On the whole, those that do will be small businesses and start-ups, which have a smaller number of applicants and a shorter hiring process.
So instead of resigning yourself to spending the last few weeks of summer on the sofa, start scouring job boards and social media for roles. You can also take matters into your own hands and send off speculative applications to companies where you’d love to work. Sometimes companies that hadn’t been planning to hire an intern will offer you a role if you ask.
It’s really worth giving up a bit of your holiday to get some experience under your belt; after graduation, employers are keen for candidates to already have some proof that they’re professional and capable. Plus you’ll find out whether the industry is for you; you’ll get contacts if you want to use them, and will have saved yourself time down the road if you realise you don’t like it.
If you’re not sold on an internship, volunteering is another great way to boost your future career prospects. You’ll hone many of the same skills that you’ll need in the workplace and which employers will be looking for, like communication, working with people from a variety of backgrounds, and emotional intelligence.
It’s a very wide field, so whatever your interests there’ll be something for you. Opportunities could range from a job in your local charity shop, doing some marketing or sales work for a charity helping humans, animals, or the environment, and working with a community radio station.
Volunteering is also very rewarding, as you can make a big difference to those you work alongside. Essentially, it’s a win-win; you can do your bit for a good cause, and it will benefit you in the long run.
Get a new hobby
Is your hobby watching Netflix? Or gaming? Or seeing how many marshmallows you can fit in your mouth? These are all worthy uses of your time, but aren’t ones you’re generally going to want to put on your CV or talk about at interview.
So why not seize the moment and take up a new hobby? Something arts and crafts based could fuel your creativity and end up seeing you make things you can sell; learning to cook could save you another year at university surviving on toast and noodles; becoming an expert chess player could teach you a lot about strategy and problem solving.
All of these are more likely to convince employers that you have a good work-life balance, and get on with something productive in your spare time. And if you choose something you think you’ll genuinely enjoy, you might find that you cheer yourself up at the same time.
Take an online course
It’s easier than ever to learn a new skill online, so take full advantage and spend your summer taking an internet course. There are hundreds of websites that offer courses on a huge variety of topics, either for free or for a fee.
What you choose is up to you, but here are a few ideas: brushing up your language skills or learning a new one is always worthwhile, both for general life and for making you a more attractive, and you can do this with a free app like Duolingo. You could also consider learning to code with Codecademy’s free online training programme; as the world becomes ever more digital, programming skills will be increasingly valuable.
Finally, if you’re missing studying (but not essays and endless hours in the library), check out sites like Coursera, where you’ll find modules in all sorts of subjects, from technology to history to existentialism, many of which are free unless you want to receive a certificate.
Go somewhere on a whim
Travelling is a great way to spend your summer, especially given the fact that after university you’ll probably not get nearly as much free time until you retire. Even if you think it’s a bit late (and pricey) to squeeze in a holiday backpacking around Thailand, there’s still time to plan a getaway.
Interrailing is a popular choice for students for good reason – apart from the initial cost of your rail pass, you can travel and stay in places across Europe relatively cheaply. As budget flights tend to be full or more expensive if you book last minute, when it comes to getting across the channel there’s always the option of getting a bus overseas. It takes time and isn’t exactly comfortable, but it’s cheap.
Being well travelled isn’t likely to bag you a job, but proving that you have an understanding and experience of different cultures can certainly count in your favour. Employers are increasingly on the lookout for global graduates, and they value the ability to work collaboratively with people from diverse and multicultural backgrounds very highly.
But most importantly, travelling is great fuel for personal development. So if you’re tempted just to drop everything and head abroad, and you can scrape the funds together, now’s your chance.
Ignore this one if you’re already super sporty, but for the less fit among us, now might be the time to start lacing up your trainers. The benefits of regular exercise are undeniable and extensive, and not just for your health; it can improve your concentration by 21% and your motivation to work by 41%. Plus if you join a sports team, you can add proof of being a team player to your CV.
When you get back to university, late nights studying (or enjoying the night-life) and a poor diet can take their toll. Starting off fit and healthy will help you, and if you get into an exercise routine before term starts, you’re more likely to keep it up.
Claire Kilroy is a content writer for graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. Check out their listings of internships and graduate jobs London, or head to their blog for more graduate careers advice.
… and a note from the Careers team:
The Careers Service at City is open for appointments all summer. Now is a great time to get an appointment before the autumn term rush starts. If you need help thinking about how to maximise your time during the summer or want to prepare for internship or graduate job applications in the autumn term, book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants now.