Even if you missed out on the big internship you wanted, it doesn’t mean you have to write off any professional development this summer. You might even find it in unexpected places.
Transferable skills really do exist and any time you work in a team or with customers, or aer involved in a project, you are developing them. Have you thought of...
1. University work
If you really like where you’re studying or just don’t really want to see your family, universities often need extra staff during the summer. If staying behind while other students head off doesn’t seem like your idea of hell, then you might be able to reap some fairly useful rewards.
Summer is often when universities host conferences and they're always on the lookout for an extra pair of hands. If you’re lucky, you'll be paid to pick up extra knowledge while you work - which makes a change from the usual way at university. Ideally you would find something relating to your course, but even if not, it will still make you a more interesting person. You may also be able to find work as a researcher, which can be especially useful for staying clued-up on the cutting edge of your field.
Try Uni Temps or your own university’s jobs page for vacancies.
2. Freelance writing
Being able to write always comes in handy: clear, readable prose is surprisingly rare in the professional world. Consider this useful for any job that requests ‘good written communication skills’, i.e. all of them. Aside from improving your general communication, writing can also be useful for specific career paths. Blogging about developments in your sector is a great way to demonstrate commercial awareness to an employer and show off your enthusiasm for your chosen field.
Even if you can't find any paid work – think local papers, blogs specialising in your subject – just start writing your own blog. You will be able to get a portfolio of pieces to show for yourself and maybe even find new areas of interest in your subject from researching.
There is nothing like teaching your subject to help you understand it better. That’s not to say you will need to be teaching university level maths to your students but keeping your subject in mind periodically throughout the summer will stop quite so much slipping out before your return to university.
Depending on when your term finishes, you may be able to find work doing last minute exam preparation with A-level students, or helping ambitious secondary school students get a head start on their next term. As the professional world gets ever more competitive, some parents are taking measures to make sure their children get a head start.
Working with children helps develop patience, lateral thinking and a more nuanced understanding of your subject. It also pays well and can be done flexibly around whatever else you’re up to this summer.
4. Office temping
While not sounding especially exciting, temporary office work can be a very useful way to fine tune skills you'll need if you are going into any office-based job. If you can walk into your graduate job already confident in creating an Excel spreadsheet, putting together a PowerPoint presentation and managing dossiers, you'll immediately impress your employer. These are the boring tasks that offices run on and getting the hang of them before your big break means you can get to the interesting bits more quickly when you do start your graduate job.
5. Waiting tables
One of the classics; the haven of out-of-work actors, musicians and anyone else in need of money while they await the job of their dreams. However a stint waiting tables can actually teach you quite a lot.
For a start, you get better at talking to a variety of, often quite irate, people. You get an eye for detail as you make sure that someone’s nut, dairy and gluten allergies are noted and passed on to an unimpressed kitchen. Importantly you also learn grace under pressure which will help you keep a cool head when things get stressful in the office later down the line. There is even the chance of doing some discreet networking with your tables - you might meet someone useful.
While these might not end up as the stars of your CV, they will definitely give you experience to draw from come interview season, and maybe some other skills too. If you need a hand with your CV, check out our CV and Cover Letter Advice.