Many university courses and apprenticeships require candidates to have specific skills or experiences before submitting an application. The school breaks are the perfect time to get prepared. Here are six tips for making the most out of your holidays.
1. Find a summer job
Getting part-time or full-time work is a great way to make the most out of your summer. Some of the benefits of having a summer job include earning a salary and building connections for future positions. If you haven't already, you'll need to put together a CV to present all of your past roles and experience. Most companies will ask for this when you apply for a job. Luckily, you can use Unifrog’s CV tool to help you do this!
Sometimes, there’s a lot of competition for jobs, so it’s best to start looking and applying early. There are lots of useful student websites, such as Student Job, Just Student Jobs, E4S Student Jobs and GumTree. You can also check newspapers, social media, your local Job Centre, or ads in windows of shops/restaurants.
2. Gain some work experience
Work experience is the perfect way to get a taste of a future career, as well as get a more useful experience for your CV or Personal Statement. Whereas a summer job is usually available only during the summer, work experience can be applied for year-round. If you are applying for vocational, highly-specialised degree courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Sciences or Law, work experience is a really important part of your application.
Some companies, like the British Red Cross or HSBC, offer work experience schemes specifically for 16- to18-year-olds. You can also reach out to companies directly by emailing them with a copy of your CV and writing a few paragraphs about yourself, your interest in gaining some experience, and how you hope to contribute to their work.
3. Try volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to make a positive impact in the world, and it can be a learning experience too: you'll mix with people outside of your school, develop new skills and learn about an important topic. It also makes an excellent addition to your CV.
There are many websites to help find opportunities, such as Volunteering England. For local opportunities, you can try YouthNet UK, and for international volunteering check out WorldWide Volunteering (WWV). Alternatively, National Citizenship Service, is a low cost, three-week team building and volunteer programme in the UK run by the government.
4. Do some extracurricular study
Doing some extracurricular activities can really give you the extra help you might need to prepare for your future studies. It can also give you content to discuss in your Personal Statement.
You won’t have enough time to learn everything about your subject, which means you’ll need to focus on the aspects you find the most interesting. A great way to do this is by starting with the topics you are currently studying, and checking out some of the extra resources available, or asking your teacher for some guidance on new areas to look into. There are a wealth of resource types to dive into. You can find new podcasts, documentaries and open lectures on platforms like Youtube, and new books and articles in your chosen subject in your library, and on the internet. Many of these resources can be discussed in your Personal Statement or at a future interview.
There are free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available in almost every field of study, from languages to computer programming. MOOCs are another great way to expand your knowledge outside of the curriculum. You can also use Unifrog’s MOOCs tool to find the best courses for you.
5. Look for other educational programmes
Exchange programmes and summer schools are other great ways to work independently, away from home, surrounded by students your own age - the perfect preparation for university. For example, the Rotary Club offers exchanges for students 15 to 19 years old in more than 100 countries, and the Lion Club International is a youth camp and exchange sponsored by local Lions clubs.
A great example of a summer school you can apply for is the Sutton Trust programme. Sutton Trust is a foundation that aims to improve social mobility in the UK through evidence-based programmes, such as UK summer schools and USA programmes.
6. Don't forget - record it!
Record all your activities, paid or voluntary, in or out of school. Also, make sure to make a note of the specific skills and experiences you picked up along the way. You can use Unifrog’s Activities tool to make the recording process pretty easy. Having a detailed record makes for much easier CV writing and university application form filling.
7. Have fun!
Remember that the summer holiday is also an opportunity to relax and have fun. Whether you find yourself in another country, reading books, watching films, or catching up with friends - make sure you take time off work and get in your much-needed break!
Good stuff from elsewhere
Sutton Trust - UK Summer schools
To find out more about the free Sutton Trust Summer schools, check it out here.
Work Experience is Good Experience - Nathaniel Brown, TEDx
Find out why getting work experience is really important.
Beginner’s Guide to Massive Open Online Courses - Pat Bowden
Interested in MOOCs? Here's a beginner's guide to get you started!