No summer job? No problem – how to spend your holidays

With the clocks moving forward and the much lauded stretch in the evenings now well and truly upon us, it can only mean one thing; summer is almost here. For many students, it’s a case of laying down the burdensome books of study that came with the winter months in favour of 6am starts and working until dusk on a bright sunny evening.

Whether it’s saving money for the year ahead or just passing the time, the summer job has always been central to most students’ summertime excursions. But what are the alternatives for those students not fortunate enough to get one?

One of the option is to travel abroad on a J1 visa. In 2009, 6,700 Irish students availed of the scheme and travelled to the US for the summer. By 2010, this had jumped to 10,500 students spending their summer in the States. Most of these trips need to be planned well in advance with students needing to secure employment before setting off.

Those who book and fly out late may be beaten by the crowd to things like jobs and accommodation. With the closing date for applications usually sometime in mid-May, by the time some students realise they can’t get a job in Ireland for the summer, it may be too late to apply.

Third year Contempory Culture and Society student, Robert Carroll had such an experience. He said: “I’d always wanted to go on a J1 at some stage whilst I was at college. I was planning on heading to Chicago up until about April last year, when I decided to put it off for a year and try to save up some money.

“I spent a good six weeks sending out CVs looking for a summer job however I was having no success anywhere. By the time I’d changed my mind and decided to go on the J1, it was too late. The application process was actually still open however all the prices had sky rocketed and the earliest I could fly out was sometime in mid-June. At that stage, it was far too expensive and I decided there was no point.”

Another option would be to embark on an internship. A number of companies and organisations offer internships to students throughout the summer, with most varying in length from six to 12 weeks. With a lot of students either abroad or working, competition for places on the programmes may be significantly reduced. These internships can provide invaluable experience for your CV and may eventually lead on to future employment opportunities.

Journalism student Sarah Bermingham, interned at social media news agency, Storyful last summer. Looking back on her experience, she said: “I learnt so much about social media news gathering, the potential future in store for the journalism profession, as well as more basic aspects of working life such as teamwork, deadlines and coping with responsibilities.

“While the role meant I was working 40 hours per week for my entire holidays, I didn’t feel as though I missed out on my summer; much the opposite in fact. There were regular drinks and meals out organised for everyone in the office, which made everyone feel like a valued member of the team. I made good friends and contacts amongst my journalist colleagues and enjoyed going to work every day.

“On my return to college, I felt both more confident and competent, with the new skills and knowledge I had acquired over the summer months. The placement has since made a fantastic addition to my CV and has helped me land a great INTRA placement too.”

A third option is volunteering. 2012 statistics showed that 15,400 people volunteered across Ireland that year, with their efforts contributing to an equivalent value of €10.2 million. Various charities and NGOs are always seeking extra help and assistance, particularly from young people. The experience can also be hugely enjoyable and gives students the chance to engage with their local community or places further afield, in a way in which they may never have previously done.

Taking all these into account, along with the many great music festivals and sporting events taking place throughout the summer; even if you don’t get a job, there still should be plenty of things to keep you occupied.

Darragh McGrath

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