How to have a productive summer break.

 
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One thing that surprised me after my first year of University was how long the summer break really was. Semesters are such a busy and stressful period of time that suddenly not being in lectures and doing coursework can come as quite a shock to the system, and with being so busy at university it is unlikely you have managed to think about and plan your entire summer break off.

Despite having the opportunity to completely relax and do lovely non academic things, as someone who took a little longer to choose her degree, I see the summer break as a chance to tick some more boxes and be productive in ways I don't have the time to be at university. 

Which is why chipping away at your research or planning for next semester's work and contributing towards your CV is such a good idea. It does not have to be at anywhere near an intense pace but self directing yourself is something you should really practice because your self motivation and ability to work independently is what could be paying your bills eventually. And the things you do on top of your studies are always going to be what makes you shine to an employer in the future. 

Researching and reading

The summer break is a great chance to even skim a few of those books so you know what your lecturers will be referring to, and also to start researching for an essay or dissertation you will have to write once you go back. If you are not living in the same town or city as your university over the summer then you can apply for SCONUL access through their website, which will allow you to use a university library closer to you. Before applying to SCONUL however I do recommend looking at the other university's catalogue to see if they have the books you need, especially if you have more then one university near to you that you can choose from. 

Interning/work experience 

I know we are already into June but it's never too late to seek out some kind of work placement for a couple of weeks if you could do with some on your CV. Each industry is completely different so I can only advise you on the types of placements I apply for. But if you are looking for even a weeks unpaid placement just to get a taste for somewhere then don't be afraid to seek out a contact on a companies' website you could email an enthusiastic cover letter and cv to.

Volunteer

Continuing on from my last piece of advice another type of experience you could get especially over the summer break is volunteering. There are so many festivals and other events over the summer that will be looking for some enthusiastic helpers. Volunteers are usually well looked after as well in my experience. With events for example you usually work half a day or a few hours and then you have access to the event when you finish, so it's a really positive thing to get involved with while you have some free time, and it also shows an employer that you are motivated to work and you enjoy working with people. 

Summer courses

One thing that I have planned for this summer for the first time as a undergraduate is attending a summer school at a University in London. I will admit I have had to save up quite a bit for this course but I decided I wanted to do something like this a few months back and I am so excited to be spending a month in one of my favourite cities studying something that I am not able to do during my degree at Falmouth. And if you can get some kind of scholarship with a university or have some savings you want to invest in your studies a bit more, then I really recommend considering doing something like this. There are also many English speaking summer schools you can apply for abroad which also sounds like an amazing way to spend a few weeks of your summer. 

Online courses 

Another option for some further study is to take some online courses. Because maybe for example there are some skills you would like to add to your CV or you are interested in a particular subject that your modules on your degree course don't cover. I really recommend Lynda.com, especially for improving creative skills and learning software but there are also lots of other kinds of courses available on MOOC websites such as Coursera.org

Talks, festivals, exhibitions  

My final suggestion if you would like to feel engaged in your degree subject without getting too bogged down in reading and being in front of a computer is to attend any talks, festivals or exhibitions that may be on and relevant to your studies over the summer. For example last summer I went to a film screening and talk, an arts festival and lots of photography exhibitions. Which is a great way to keep on learning and talking about what you're interested in with similarly interested people whilst away from your classmates and lecturers at university. It is also a good opportunity to get out of your degree bubble and actually see what people in your industry are doing and what kinds of conversations people are having. 

So that concludes my ideas to help you be more productive with your summer! If you have any other suggestions please comment them below. I hope you are all having a great summer so far and this list can inspire you a little, but I also hope you are all finding time to relax as well and enjoy your down time!