Congratulations on getting into your chosen university. The next few years of your life will be among the most exciting you will ever experience. But first you’ve got to get through the summer holidays.
What are you going to do?
It’d be all too easy to spend your time lounging in bed, watching TV and eating crisps. However, the reality is that your fellow students will probably be looking for ways to stand out from the crowd, and you might want to consider that too.
Here are five ways you could spend your summer in order to give yourself the best possible start when you arrive at university:
This is probably one of the most rewarding things you can do with your free time. Giving something back is a great feeling, whether you choose to volunteer locally or go further afield.
There will likely be plenty of things you can do in your local area, from helping the elderly to working with children. Have a look at your local council’s website to see what opportunities there are near your home and start making some calls.
If you decide to head outside your home town, or even abroad, you will need to register your interest as soon as possible, as many of these volunteering schemes will probably fill up quickly. However, it’s worth making the effort, as you will get to experience a new place, perhaps even a new culture, and make some great friends along the way.
Also, let’s face it, volunteer work is going to look great on your CV. Your graduation may seem a world away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about your future career prospects. Volunteering is a nice thing to do and it says a lot about your character, so don’t be shy about highlighting this to impress potential employers.
If you already have your career plan mapped out, a summer of work experience or an internship is a good way to get your foot on the employment ladder.
Your success here will depend on how determined and proactive you are. Jobs are highly unlikely to fall into your lap, so you’ll need to get out there and do some research. Make sure you tailor a fresh CV for each role you find, and you could even follow it up with a phone call just to reinforce your enthusiasm.
Once you’ve got your chance, don’t waste it. Absorb everyone opportunity you get to learn new skills and make contacts that could prove valuable later. Make yourself memorable. Who knows, a couple of years down the line you might even get more work out of it?
Of course, not all of these opportunities will be paid. Whether or not you wish to go down the unpaid internship route is up to you, but if it’ll really boost your career prospects and won’t cause too much financial hardship, it might be worth considering.
If you do manage to secure paid work, then you can build up a nice little pot of money to help you make the most of your first few weeks of university.
Prepare your professional persona
Getting the best jobs means having the strongest application, and this will only come with time and effort. Applying for work experience gives you a great chance to hone your skills in areas such as writing a cover letter and preparing a CV.
If you’re updating your CV, by all means get your core credentials down on paper. But don’t forget that you should be altering it to suit the roles you apply for, so it’s probably not worth preparing a generic document that you plan to send to everyone.
The same goes for cover letters. You’ll need to find out whom to address your letter to, and make sure you reference to job advertisement so you can highlight your skills in the areas required.
Be mindful of your social media presence too. Your profiles and accounts may be visible to potential employers, so now is the time to consider whether or not the content you are posting here is necessarily going to impress them. No one’s going to begrudge you having a good time, but a photo of you face-down in a hedge doesn’t exactly scream ‘hire me’, so let’s be careful out there.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, now might be a good time to get one. Not only is it a great way of getting noticed and building up contacts, it’s also something you can grow and improve gradually over time to produce something truly impressive by the time your graduation approaches in a few years.
Take a holiday
Everyone is different, and you may feel that working through the summer after all that studying will leave you burned out before you even arrive at university. In this case, recharging your batteries could be an excellent choice, as you’ll be raring to go by the time Fresher’s Week rolls around.
If you do choose to let off steam for the summer, why not make the most of it? There’s certainly nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for all your hard work and celebrating with all the friends that have been on the same journey as you.
You may also be experiencing a few jitters about this next phase of your life, and chances are many of your friends will be feeling the same. Talking about this can help, and if you’re worried you might get homesick then you can even arrange to meet up during the Christmas or Easter breaks.
Finally, don’t worry about falling behind the competition. There are plenty of additional activities you can do once you arrive at university that will help you bolster your credentials, from writing for your student newspaper to getting involved in charity work.
Seeking out extra-curricular activities before you arrive is just one way to prepare for your first year as a student. There are various practical things to take care of, from ordering your textbooks to working out how you’re going to get to your new student accommodation.
There is plenty of information you can gather over the summer. Why not research your lecturers to find out just how much they’ve contributed to the field you’re interested in? Or find out more about your new home city, to help you make the most of your free time?
Some halls of residence even have their own social media groups where people can introduce themselves to their fellow residents before they arrive, so it may be worth checking this out.
Of course, if you want more tips and advice to help you navigate those early student days, you can always have a look around the rest of our blog to see what grabs your attention.