3 ways to plan your summer to boost your career

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You may still be enjoying the Easter break, but planning now will help you get the most out of your summer – and is the key to landing a summer internship or volunteering opportunity, writes Grace Bowden

As a student, it is easy to spend your money and time on the day-to-day without planning ahead. But some forward thinking will pay off.

And there’s no better time to get organised than the run-up to summer. Whether you are looking for a job or want to travel, investing time in researching your options and planning your experience will allow you to maximise both your student experience and your employability. And that’s a much more exciting prospect than finding yourself at the end of term with nothing on the horizon.

1. Cash in on your student status

Being a student means there is no shortage of discounts on everything from local travel and hotels to flights abroad. Doing research into what discount cards you qualify for before you book can result in big savings.

If you are a full- or part-time student travelling within the UK, an NUS card and Young Persons’ Railcard (officially now the 16-25 Railcard) are all you need to gain access to a variety of discounts. An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) gives you discounts on travel and accommodation internationally.

Unlike the NUS card, you must be a full-time student to qualify for the ISIC card, although those under the age of 26 do qualify for an International Youth Travel Card, which has many of the same benefits as an ISIC card. If you are not a student but are doing an apprenticeship with an AAT qualification you are eligible for an NUS Apprentice extra card.

This card has many of the same benefits as an NUS card. AAT members also have access to AAT Additions  – an exclusive benefits package offering discounts and cashback offers.

2. Summer internships: start looking now

Applying for summer internships between graduation and prospective jobs is daunting – and many students make the mistake of avoiding it until the last minute. By then, the best opportunities may already have been snapped up.

To ensure you keep your eyes open, set time aside each week for job and internship applications, letting you stay in the loop on the possibilities without distracting you from your studies. Websites like Employment 4 Students and StudentJob list vacancies nationwide, whilst it is also worth looking at specific employers, such as Ernst & Young and PwC, who have their own internship programmes.

Maintain your motivation by applying for work you are genuinely interested in, reading up on the job requirements before you apply, and researching the company itself. Don’t forget to watch videos by AAT’s career coach, Aimee Bateman, for tips for applying and attending interviews.

Watch Aimee answer ‘I gained some work experience while abroad. Should I include this on my CV?’:

3. Use travelling as an opportunity to boost your career

As a student, unique experiences can enhance your CV and complement your experience. Taking a work placement abroad demonstrates to future employers that you are committed to the line of work you are pursuing, and have an ability to take risks and adapt to changing circumstances.

However, travel that is not directly linked to your studies or future career – such as volunteering abroad – can also show organisational qualities and perseverance. This is something future employers will value. Start by checking out VSO, RealGap, GVI and Projects Abroad for advice and opportunities.

Overall, investing your student funds into one-of-a-kind experiences will make you stand out from your peers in a saturated job-market, and, best of all, allow you to use your money for both personal and professional gain.

Grace Bowden is a former writer for AAT.

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