Deputy Editor, Annie Smith, explores ways that students can be productive during a summer lockdown.
For many students, this summer is the first in memory without any serious responsibilities: the pandemic has meant finding a part-time job is difficult, if not impossible in some areas, and most internships have been cancelled. Plus, due to travel restrictions across the world, any travel plans to make the most of time off university have been rendered obsolete. With all this newfound free time, how can students spend these three months without university without watching the entirety of Netflix?
Of course, relaxation and self-care should still be maintained. Productivity is important in times like these with so much free time, but students especially should not forget to schedule in movie marathons or Animal Crossing sessions amidst a full to-do list.
With that being said, a summer in lockdown offers students with time to prepare for future academic years, internships, and careers, and it doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, just ten minutes of career planning or productivity will have your future-self thanking you.
First, start your summer by dusting off your untouched LinkedIn profile or outdated CV. It’s important for both of these to be current, so make sure it includes any societies you’ve had an active role in, leadership opportunities you’ve held, and volunteering you’ve done. If you have more time on your hands (who doesn’t?), you can also work to make both of these platforms more aesthetically pleasing, particularly your CV. A CV shouldn’t be an artistic masterpiece, but some basic graphic design and strategic colour choice will enhance its readability and help you stand out to future employers!
Even if you can’t secure an internship or job this summer, freelance opportunities are abundant for nearly every job profession, and non-paid roles can still serve as experience in the field. Try to contact local businesses in your area and advertise yourself on social media, especially in fields of writing, social media, graphic design, and web development. It’s also helpful to provide a portfolio of what you can do or pitch yourself to sell your skills. For example, if you were looking to gain experience doing graphic design in a professional setting, you could collect samples of your previous work and even outline what specifically you could offer to the business you’re interested in, like material for social media or a new logo.
For students looking to advance professionally or pave the way for future internships, networking has become the key to securing most jobs and work experience. Whether it’s LinkedIn or a simple email, you can start by researching what alumni from your high school or university are up to now, or even by reaching out to friends who you have kept in contact with, and ask them questions about how they got to where they are and if they have any advice for you.
This is also a great way to learn more about future postgraduate studies by speaking to a student currently on the course or who has already completed the same program, particularly important for students now entering their final year. Thinking about life after university can be daunting, but with so much time to research and prepare this summer, make the most by getting a head start on planning for your options, consulting with others about what they suggest, and even getting organised for any job or future study applications.
An emerging method to enhance your CV is through certifications. It’s one thing to say you know how to code or can speak a foreign language, but by earning a certification, you can prove it with evidence. Some free or inexpensive certifications that you can earn online include LinkedIn Learning, Free Code Camp, Google Digital Garage, Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification Course, and Google Analytics, but you should also do some research on what certifications are common or recommended for your degree or desired career!
Along with certifications, online courses are perfect for those who are missing the structure of university or would like to learn something other than their degree subject. Sites like Codecademy will teach you coding languages from a beginner level (for free!), and resources like Duolingo, Lingoda, and Babel are common ways to learn a foreign language over time. if you’re wanting more structure, Coursera and Open Learn are two online course websites where you can take a summer class, for free or for a small cost, and even put this on your CV.
One of the easiest ways to learn something new is to just pick up a book and read! Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, educational or just for fun, reading has been proven to improve your vocabulary, knowledge, writing skills, and mental stimulation, as well as reducing stress. There are reading lists abundant online right now for learning more about the Black Lives Matter movement, issues like sustainable fashion or local politics, and material related to what you study if books such as those interest you.
And for those students who are already looking ahead to next academic year, once your modules are finalised or provisionally selected you can start preparing by getting ahead on reading or lecture notes. You can either view the reading lists for the past year or contact the module coordinator for resources that you can utilise this summer.
Many of us are without an internship or job right now, but that shouldn’t stop us from being productive and preparing for future years of university or the workforce with all of this newfound free time.