If, like the beloved snowman from Frozen, the dream of the elusive summer is what keeps you sane at this point of the academic year, you are not alone. However, along with the excitement comes the anxiety of how to spend it. There is no prescriptive plan for the perfectly balanced summer, since every student is unique. But with many options of work, study, volunteering, holidays, and combinations of these: there is something out there for everyone.
Summer is synonymous with travel, the idyllic sunny holiday working on that tan. There are many great experiences to be had on these adventures: meeting new friends, bonding with old ones and being exposed to new cultures – be that local days out or a trip around the world. Travelling creates memories to last a lifetime and helps you grow as a person.
While having fun, you become more globally conscious and aware of how to cope in the real world, by facing challenges such as planning an itinerary, being in unfamiliar situations, and having to mingle (and coping when it might not go quite to plan!). This doesn’t have to involve a plane ticket either – there’s plenty of cultural variety to be experienced within the UK.
Finances can be a hindrance to those struck by wanderlust. However, there are ways around this to achieve the summer of your dreams. Camp America is a great and increasingly popular way to travel America with positions across 12,000 camps. It offers remuneration plus food and board, alongside friends among the thousands of Brits in the same boat.
Another route could be interning or working abroad, where companies will often cover expenses. If you are looking to combine your travelling with some volunteer work it may be possible to keep costs down through fundraising and sponsorship. Volunteering can also be a great way to cut the cost of attending festivals. For those looking to work abroad, research the various bursaries that may be available to help with travel and accommodation costs.
Internships are a fantastic way to explore career options, often involving a shorter time commitment than a summer job. Unfortunately many are still unpaid, though UEA only endorses paid internships, so check out Careers Central or their website.
With continuous media coverage of the competitive job market, anything you can do to stand out from the crowd is a bonus.
Reports from The Telegraph suggest that interning improves your chances of graduate employment threefold sometimes within the same company, or through references and the added exposure of the industry. Positions are scarce and fill up early, so volunteering is an alternative to still boost your CV while acquiring new knowledge and skills.
According to the Independent, of the 79 percent of students who work over summer, 41 percent feel pressure to do so just to financially survive. For many this comes about due to inadequate maintenance loans, failing to match the rising living costs (including the controversial rise in UEA’s accommodation fees). However, there are ways to make the most of this if you find yourself in this position.If it’s the great outdoors you love, try adventure centre jobs. If air-con is more your style, aim for a more formal post that will teach you a new skill and strengthen your CV.
Having a job that matches your desires in more than just the paycheck is sure to help with the motivation of getting in each day. Even if a summer job turns out to be less than perfect, doing it can be a great way to narrow down what sort of career to aim for in the future.