Claire Guy is an Employability and Careers Consultant for the University of Exeter Business School.
It certainly feels like summer in the UK right now with the longer days and the sun shining. For most of you, classes are over and it feels like you have some time on your hands. How can you make the most of it as an international student?
1 Relax: You deserve it! After a hard year studying, it’s important to recharge your energy by resting. Catch up on your sleep. Read a book. Binge watch movies. If English is your second language, try and watch / read in English as this is a fantastic (and enjoyable) way to improve your skills. This is especially important if you want to work in the UK after your studies, as employers will expect you to have excellent written and spoken English.
2 Explore the UK (or at least Devon and Cornwall!): You’ve explored Exeter but now you have some free time. Why not go a little further? The South West has so much to offer. This list from Go South West England has 30+ Awesome Places to Visit in South West England . While you soak up the British scenery, why not learn more about our culture too? Chat to people you encounter – you’ll find most people are very friendly. Even better, invite your UK course mates to accompany you. They can provide a brilliant insight into the typical habits and behaviours of the British including Cockneys, Brummies, Janners and Scousers (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, this list of all the best British regional nicknames will help!).
If you want to work in the UK after your studies, employers will want you to be familiar with UK culture, and be really comfortable interacting with local people. Even if you don’t plan to work in the UK, employers back home or anywhere else in the world will be impressed by your intercultural learning.
3 Get more out of your part time job. If you are an undergraduate with a part time job, you can work more hours during the summer. These guidelines from International Student Support explain the visa rules. If you are a master’s student, you can work full time from the end of your final term.
You may think your part time job isn’t relevant for your future career. Maybe it isn’t right now- but could you make it more relevant? Could you create a learning opportunity for yourself? Mika, a Business Analytics master’s student did exactly this. She had a part-time job as a cashier at Primark, but knew they had a data team. As she was aiming for a data career, she asked her manager if she could shadow the data team for a week. They said yes, and Mika learned so much. She made the most of the experience by starting conversations about possible graduate opportunities. What opportunities could your part time employer offer you?
4 Find work. The summer is a good time to find work if you would like some. Many hotels, restaurants, and other tourist-dependent businesses employ extra staff on a casual basis. You can find summer jobs on Handshake or other job sites, but often companies simply put notices in their windows and expect people to drop in and ask about jobs. You could create a part-time CV and print off some copies to take to employers. A part-time CV will follow quite a different style and focus to a CV for a graduate role though. Here’s an example of what a part time CV might look like, with a focus on relevant skills. Come and see us if you’d like help with your part time CV.
Remember that part time work that is completely unrelated to the career area you want to go into after your studies, is useful. This is because employers in the UK love transferable skills, and part time jobs give you lots of them! Don’t work too hard though — you deserve a break after a year of study!
5 Find an internship or other work-based experience: Many international students would love an internship over the summer. The summer break feels like the perfect time to boost your CV while your studies are paused. Finding a summer internship might not be as straightforward as you’d like though, for a couple of reasons:
- Internships in the UK are not as plentiful as they are in some other countries.
- Many UK internships are advertised and filled well in advance of the summer, often during the autumn term.
- UK internships are often competitive with long and complex application processes.
Don’t give up on the idea of doing an internship, there are still some options! You may still find some internships available – have a look on Handshake or simply search online for “internship” plus the type of internship you’d like- for example “internship banking”.
At Exeter we run our own internships, our Student Campus Partnerships (internships on campus) and Student Business Partnerships (internships with local businesses). You can search for them on Handshake.
You could also complete a virtual internship- one of the good things that came out of a global pandemic! Virtual internships are really flexible, can be done from your bedroom (or sunbed) and many large, well known employers are offering them through The Forage.
6 Learn new skills The University of Exeter has a premium subscription to LinkedIn Learning and all students can access it for free; just sign in using your University email address and password. Find out more about using LinkedIn learning to learn new skills. There are lots of super courses on LinkedIn that will supercharge your employability, on everything from data analytics to networking.
FutureLearn partners with top international universities to offer a wide range of online courses. Most courses have an option to access content free for a limited period, and cover topics such as marketing or sustainable fashion.
7 Explore your career ideas. During term time there’s a lot to think about. The summer is a great time to focus your mind on your career ideas. It’s worth doing this as an international student because jobs and job titles in your home country might not match jobs and job titles in the UK. You can find out more about the kinds of jobs Exeter graduates go into from your degree or find out more about a specific job role using the Prospects website.
8 Get help from Career Zone. Many university staff are taking a well earned rest over the summer, but Career Zone is still open. You can book appointments, browse our workshops or look through our huge library of digital support.
9 Have fun. The sun doesn’t always shine in the UK- make the most of this opportunity to enjoy it. After all, you have put a lot of time and effort into your studies at Exeter. You deserve some fun too.
10 Having fun is so important, it’s also at number 10.
We hope you enjoyed our list of 10 ways to make the most of your summer as an international student! Which one are you going to do first?