Summer work experience? PAID summer work experience? Yes please!

Anastasia Miaris, student blogger

Summer is just around the corner with the slight obstacle of exam season beckoning. The last thing most students want to do at this moment in time is to make plans to work in their well earned break. I hold the same opinion of course. It has been a very intense second year and I did originally plan to chill out in Florida for two months and then maybe travel around the Greek islands and Italy. My plans slightly altered when a friend mentioned a programme that is run in Italy which pays students wanting to gain valuable work experience.

I am still going to Florida for two months but then hope to jet off to Italy in order to work for a few weeks as a teacher. This is not as easy as I make it sound. As with all work experience, some effort has to go into actually getting taken on. This work experience is PAID work experience hence the extra bit of effort that has to go into landing myself a spot on that plane to Italy. I’ll explain a little more… My friend happened to mention that she was applying to ACLE. Huh? What? ACLE? It is a scheme based in Italy in which students are hired to teach Italian children English through the medium of drama. Being a drama student, this instantly sounded like a bright idea to me. I already partook in work experience as a drama teacher in an English school last summer, how different can Italian kids be? OK, there is the slight language barrier but drama easily solves that, I’ve always been good at charades.

My issue at the moment is the laborious application process. Not only do they want an EU formatted CV as well as an extensive application form in which I have to list four arts and crafts I can teach…(papier macher? It doesn’t matter if I’m actually good at them, right?) I also have to hand over two references (OK standard), passport photographs, a photocopy of my passport and drivers licence AND photographs as evidence of me working with children! In this day and age, how easy is it to get photographs with children when they aren’t your relatives? I did think for quite a while about how this could be done. I even contemplated going into a playground and explaining my problem to parents around, in hope that they might let me take a photograph with their children. This now sounds a little extreme but I was feeling desperate. As it turns out, I have a fourteen year old brother who apparently does not embarrass easily as he willingly let my dad take photographs of me and his four friends sat around the dining room table with some skilfully placed books. I did teach them last year at his school during my work experience so the photograph isn’t wholly a construct, and again I return to my previous question, how easy is it to get a photograph with children in this day and age? I have to have a special pass to even step foot into my old school so the easiest solution was this one. My brother’s friends were good sports and I now have my photographic evidence that I have worked with children.

I hope to get this application sent off next week and then I will have to wait a month or so to find out whether I have been deemed worthy of attending the orientation classes in August. If this is the case, I’ll go for a week’s training then be sent on my merry way to a region in Italy. I will be required to stay with an Italian family while I work and with any luck will learn some Italian! I am very optimistic about this venture and think that with my previous experience I may just be able to bag myself a place on the scheme. In my opinion, work in the summer should be fun and worth while. There doesn’t seem much point droning away in a supermarket or an office if it has nothing to do with what you might want to do after graduating. If you are going to work in the summer, make it worth while and enjoy it!

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