Some simple ideas for boosting your CV this summer

If you’re not already doing an internship this summer, but you want to make the most of the remaining couple of months (ish) before you come back to uni to do something which will look good on your CV, what sorts of things can you still do?

1. Make the most of your part-time job. If you’re working this summer, ask your boss if you can take on additional responsibility. E.g. If you work in a cafe, perhaps you could offer to help to organise the rota or develop a customer feedback questionnaire to identify the most popular menu items or any service issues. Use your imagination!

What does it demonstrate…? Responsibility, leadership, initative, market research skills.

2. Make the most of a trip abroad. If you’re travelling, write a blog about your experiences or interview some people while you’re there on a current issue on your mobile phone and make it into a short podcast. Even better, do both and add the podcast to your blog.

What does it demonstrate…? Initiative, creativity, writing and social media/multimedia skills.

3. Arrange a day or two of work shadowing. It might be too late to arrange a summer internship or placement, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t try to arrange some work shadowing. Work shadowing is less formal than work experience and involves (as the term implies) observing people doing particular jobs and learning more about what a job entails rather than getting stuck and doing concrete work yourself. Work shadowing opportunities are very rarely advertised – if you’re interested in doing this, the best thing is to contact companies/organisations directly to see if this might be possible. Be polite and ensure you tell them what you’d like to learn/what departments you’d like observe and be as flexible as possible regarding dates. See our ‘Networking’ guide for more details of how to contact organisations directly. And try using LinkedIn too.

What does it demonstrate…? One key thing it demonstrates is a genuine interest in a particular career area. It can also open doors to other things, e.g. internships, paid work, useful contacts etc.

4. Enter a ‘challenge‘. The website includes listings of challenges you can undertake alone or in a team. Some have good prizes, but the main benefit is the experience itself – there’s an opportunity to develop a wide range of skills.

What does it demonstrate…? Demonstrates an interest in the particular career, e.g. a marketing challenge demonstrates interest in a career in marketing. Also many skills, including teamwork (for team challenges), organisation skills, leadership etc, depending on the challenge in question.

5. Do some volunteering. Many organisations recognise that people are busy and don’t have a huge amount of time to spare, so they provide opportunities for short bursts of volunteering (e.g. one day). For example, the green charity BTCV doesn’t even mind if you show up on the day and you can just do a day or more if you like. Browse the volunteering opportunities on the careers website (you need to be logged in to see these) for lots more ideas. You might even find something related to the career area you want to go into or that develops skills you know you will need.

What does it demonstrate…? Carl Gilleard, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, explains how many graduate recruiters view volunteering: “Volunteering is an excellent way to gain skills and experience that will enhance your applications when applying for graduate or placement positions. Demonstrating a range of experience and the commitment needed to undertake voluntary work around your normal studies will be viewed favourably by many employers.”

6. Get your driving licence. If you haven’t already done this and you have a bit of time and money this summer, it’s worth considering doing an intensive course, offered by many driving schools. A driving licence can be useful for many jobs, either because it is a specific requirement of the job, or because the workplace is difficult to reach by public transport.

What does it demonstrate…? That you can drive… 🙂

7. Take the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence). Slightly confusingly, this is nothing to do with driving a car. It’s an international computer skills certification programme which covers IT security, Microsoft Office and using the internet. You can take this as a self-paced independent course at the University. There is a small cost for this course, but you can start the course at any time and work at your own pace and book yourself in for the modules tests whenever you’re ready. See the University’s ECDL web pages for more information.

What does it demonstrate…?  A level of competence in Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint etc), IT security and communicating using the internet and email. It is easy to put these things on your CV, but this qualification will be evidence that you are a competent user. These basic IT skills are considered important for most jobs. Also demonstrates self-motivation and drive (nobody forced you to do this!) and initiative.

8. If you have a career in mind, do some research about it.  This isn’t necessarily something for your CV, but reading career-related journals will improve your understanding of what is important to employers in your career, your knowledge of current events and how they are affecting the industry, and it is also likely to give you tips about companies that might be worth targeting for jobs later on.  The Careers Service subscribes to a range of career-related journals, often also obtainable in local libraries or online.  Search the Careers Library catalogue for titles and links relevant to your career. Also spend a little time learning the jargon e.g. if you are interested in finance but don’t know much about it this summer is a good time to learn what financial terms mean.

What does it demonstrate…? Commercial awareness and interest in your chosen career.  It will also help you when the time comes to prepare for interviews.


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