Making Good Use of Your Summer

Careers Consultant Jalal Afhim has written a post about what to do in your summer. Of course, it is important to rest and have fun, but it’s also a great opportunity to get some work experience especially if you don’t have a lot.

In the run up to summer many students will be feeling pressure. Pressure to find an internship, part-time work, or somehow use the time away from teaching and assessment to give yourself an advantage in the graduate labour market. Hang on, isn’t the whole idea of the summer holiday to have a break??

Ideally the summer can be both an opportunity to get some down time, and a chance to pick up some experience that will help you to better transition into the world of work. This is worth unpacking a little: by ‘better transition’ what I mean is to…

1. Be able to make informed decisions, based the insights that only experience can provide
2. Have tangible evidence for your skills (transferable or specific) and motivation

An internship is one way to get this kind of experience, but it isn’t the only way. If you don’t do an internship it’s ok, you can still get some meaningful experience through temporary work, volunteering or participating in extra-curricular activities that involve organising, planning, problem solving or communicating, for example. These are all competencies that employers are keen to see evidence of in their graduate hires, and they are very much transferable between sectors or types of activity.

It’s important to consider your context. If you are in your final year and you have zero workplace experience, then yes it’s definitely a good idea to try to land some work experience. Aim for something that will help you make good decisions about what kind of grad job you will aim for, and give you evidence for some of the required skills/capabilities. An internship would be ideal. If you already have good work experience under your belt, or you’re a first year undergrad, give yourself some leeway to explore and do something you think you’ll really enjoy. Sometimes you can tick the ‘interesting & fun’ box AND the ‘builds my employability’ box, for example earlier in my career I spent 3 weeks volunteering with a small NGO. A few years later my relationship with this NGO meant I was given the opportunity to take a 1 year paid role with lots of responsibility. Volunteering is an excellent way to build and evidence skills, as well as developing your understanding of yourself and the world. King’s Volunteering has just launched its new platform connecting students with live opportunities.

Alternatively, it’s possible that you have an entrepreneurial side and would rather try building something yourself. Why not? Perhaps you want to develop a social media advocacy campaign around a topic that matters to you, or record a podcast, code a website, or develop an idea for a start-up. The world of work has evolved so much in the last 50 years, and so have the ways in which you can develop your employability.

So my tip for the summer is don’t try to do too much and end the summer exhausted. Try to think of kinds of activity that you would enjoy participating in, or organisations that you’d like to learn more about, and see what opportunities there are to get involved. Here are some links that might help, and of course you’re welcome to book an appointment with one of our careers consultants to discuss, problem-solve or bounce ideas around.

Further resources to find opportunities:





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