By Rachel Measures, Masters in PR.
University is strange in that you’re so busy from September until July. But then all of a sudden there are no lectures, no meetings, not even assignments and then… a lot of time to fill.
Whether you’ve gone back home or stayed in Sheffield, it can be a really strange period of the year. And if you’re anything like me, it’ll soon get a bit boring.
I spent my first summer terribly bored. I read a lot of books and binge watched a lot of TV. By Christmas of my second year I started to organise myself a little earlier, applying for jobs, planning volunteering projects, emailing for work experience placements – anything to ensure that I didn’t repeat my first summer experience.
It’s important to remember that this time is a great opportunity too – whether it’s for work or volunteering, you have the time to do things to build up your CV ready for when you finish university.
So here are my top ideas to distract you from the summer blues based on my own experiences.
Apply for part-time work
In my second year I applied for a range of jobs. I ended up interviewing for two and getting them both. They were part-time so I managed my time between them throughout the summer.
Having a part-time job gave me a lot of purpose and helped to build up my savings for a few holidays and towards my masters. When September came around, I left one job but kept on with the other (which was with the graduation office at Hallam) which allowed me to continue earning into the start of my third year.
In my four years at university, I’ve always found jobs on Unihub, so I recommend you take a look on there.
Get involved in volunteering
Volunteering really is an underrated activity. I began volunteering at the end of my first year when I visited the Students’ Union and set up my own project called Summer Ballin’, and later on, I created a project called Make-A-Mag
I pursued both projects with one of my course mates. It was something we could plan from scratch, gave us a fulfilling activity to do together, and gave us a range of new skills.
It kept me busy and really boosted my confidence while benefitting those we were running our projects for. Having volunteering experience has been so valuable in job interviews because it has given me things to talk about.
Try an internship
The university runs a number of schemes where you can do an internship for a couple of months in summer all over Sheffield. You can find these on Unihub in a range of fields.
The application process is quite easy; I’ve been through it a few times and never been overwhelmed.
Most of the placements are flexible, letting you decide which months over summer you’d like to work or how many hours a week you want to do. As long as your hours are completed before September, your hours will count, and you could be paid £1,000 – £2,000 (depending on the length of your placement).
Gain some work experience
Summer is a great time to gain experience relevant to your course. When my assignments had almost finished for the year, I contacted companies I found during an internet search. I explained who I was and that I wanted to gain some work experience with them.
Not all replied, but I did manage to get work experience in the marketing and programming department of a local theatre where I went a morning a week. I also completed a week-long placement with a local PR company.
I found both experiences really helpful and I ended up being offered a job at the theatre a few months after. Having made positive connections, I was thought of when a job came up. For the other placement, I continue to maintain a good relationship with the company as I hope I can work for them one day. Ultimately, if you make a good impression during your work experience, they will remember you when you go to apply for jobs.
Have fun travelling
Travelling is both fun and educational; it can be something you draw upon for future interviews. And it’s worth noting that these summers are probably your last ones where you are going to be totally free. Once you finish university, chances are you will be working a full-time job all year round. So if you can manage it, go travelling and enjoy yourself while you have some guilt-free time available.