The end of the academic year

Hello UMASS!

I’m writing to you from my half-packed up room on my last day in my second year house. The sun is finally shining and Fallowfield is losing its student population, as everyone heads home for the summer. I imagine most of you are in the midst of your A-level exams right now, for which I wish you all good luck- keep going, you’re nearly there-It won’t be long until the summer holidays!

Which brings me nicely onto the topic of this month’s post: uni summer holidays. It’s no secret that we have a nice long break, but what may not be so well known, is that it is becoming more and more crucial that students use this time for more than just sunbathing and holidays. There are tons of useful ways to spend your summer as a student, but here’s a few:

  • Summer job: Many students who have found themselves knee deep into their overdrafts spend the summer working to get back into the black before the new term starts or put towards a holiday.
  • Travelling/volunteering: Inter-railing or backpacking in Asia are always popular choices. To make this a CV-worthy adventure, travelling can be incorporated into a volunteering stint, for example with the International Citizen’s Service (a government-funded programme that sends 18-25 year-old volunteers on 4-9 week projects around the world. In exchange, you must fundraise for their host charity, then help out in some community-based projects when you return).
  • Internships: You know how most employers ask for experience? This is how you get it. The University of Manchester itself offers tons of summer internships (many are even paid) in almost every department, and many other universities offer similar programmes, because they know how essential it is for getting their students into work after graduating. Most large companies also have their own internship programmes, which for some careers such as a finance, can help you get onto a graduate scheme in that sector.

As for me, I’m doing something a little bit different. For those of you keen enough to remember my first ever blog post, you may remember how I mentioned that I was in the process of applying to ‘year in industry’ placements. Well I got one! *small, excited leap* This is the slightly exciting news I mentioned last month; I’m going to a medical research lab in The Gambia, in west Africa for the year. I got the placement through my Faculty’s placement office’s links with a research institution out there and I start in early July (eep!). This is a perfect of example the once-in-a-lifetime type opportunities university can open up for you, and they’re not as hard to get as you may think. Right now I can think of tonnes of examples of uni friends who have also secured amazing opportunities this summer through their degree; one of my housemates is currently overseeing a school-building project in Malawi, one is going on a Biology field trip to Italy, and another went last Easter on a field trip to Iceland and is going to San Francisco to represent the University this summer. One of my hall-mates from last year has spent the last semester studying at a partner university in Australia, and another housemate is volunteering with one of the University’s partner charities in Uganda. I have other friends who are doing a year in industry in places such as Nevada, Marseilles, Japan and Thailand, and nurse friends who are currently on electives in Sri Lanka and Ghana.. Finances need not be a barrier; most of these people were able to get funding support from the University in the form of travel grants, bursaries and fee waivers, as well as non-university sponsorships and part-time jobs around their studies.

So there you have it, a taste of the international opportunities available to you as a student, make sure you grab them by both hands once you get there! Have a wonderful summer.