After working hard all year you might think that some time off is well deserved. However, spending your summer working could help your career

Festivals and events

Working at a festival over the summer isn't going to boost you bank balance as it's likely you'll only be paid with an entry ticket. However, if you work hard and use your time wisely you can network and build your contacts, which is especially important if you want a career in areas such as event management or become a live sound engineer for example.

You'll be expected to do a couple of days work and then the rest of the festival is yours to enjoy. Roles include working behind the bar, checking tickets, stewarding or selling merchandise.

For some roles you'll apply directly to the festival by uploading a CV and details of your availability. For others you'll need to go through the agencies that staff these events.

Summer camps

Spending your summer at a camp working with children is a great way to gain experience if you want to be a teacher or educational mentor. You could work at a general camp or specialise at a camp for children with additional needs or at sports camps. Once you've chosen where you want to work you need to decide what you want to do - roles include mentor, craft assistant, cook or office administrator. Camps run from June to September; you’ll get a salary and in some cases food and accommodation.

Some, such as Camp America and Bunac, allow you to travel for up to 30 days after camp ends allowing you to build your independence, confidence and organisation skills as you book routes, travel and accommodation.

Alternatively you could stay in the UK and get a job at a playscheme over the summer. Also run during other school holidays, they are activity-based programmes for school-aged children. They generally don't last the whole summer and may even be split, which may be helpful if you have less time to dedicate. Local authorities will have a list of what's available and you will need an up-to-date CV to apply. Some settings will ask for an application form followed by an interview.

Wherever you choose to work you'll need to have declared any previous convictions and undergone the criminal records check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Retail jobs

One of the most obvious ways to spend your summer is working in a shop. If you want to work in retail after university this is a great way to gain contacts, build your shop floor experience and decide if it's the career for you. Depending on the type of shop you could be assisting customers, serving on the till, working behind the scenes in the stockroom or filling the shelves.

Aside from effective communication, timekeeping and teamwork you'll gain a whole range of skills that can be used in your career whether this is in retail or not. Seeing how a business is run and how decisions are made is a great way to build your commercial awareness. Dealing with a customer complaint can increase your problem-solving skills.

If you do well it's likely you could return in other university holidays or even work part time while you study. Find out more about student jobs at university.

Teaching English

If you fancy a summer job abroad then teaching English to someone whose native language is not English might be for you. Countries such as China, Spain, South America and South East Asia will have numerous vacancies. There are also some opportunities in the UK.

Otherwise known as TEFL you could teach on a voluntary basis in exchange for board and lodging. Some contracts include return flights, accommodation and extra bonuses.

Any degree is sufficient but subjects including English, linguistics and modern languages will be useful. Most employers will expect you to hold at least an entry-level qualification such as:

  • Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA), awarded by Cambridge ESOL
  • Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL), awarded by Trinity College London.

Find out more about teaching English as a foreign language.

Summer internships

Useful for those in the penultimate or final year of an undergraduate degree, a summer internship allows you to build your skills while experiencing the working world.

Lasting anything from 2 to 12 weeks, gaining a place is as competitive as applying for a job and you should treat it as such. Many employers will ask you complete an application form and send a cover letter detailing why you want the internship and what you can offer. If successful you could then face an assessment centre and interview.

Formal schemes at large companies will be advertised on their websites, so do some research to see what opportunities there are. To see what's available, search summer internships.

Law vacation schemes

Lasting anything between one week and a month, a vacation scheme will give you invaluable insight into the work of a law firm. You'll get the chance to meet partners, associates, solicitors and trainees and find out more about the structure of work and training, the culture of the firm, and what cases and transactions actually involve.

Deadlines for summer work experience placements tend to fall between January and April, several months ahead of training contract applications. However, the best advice is to research early as increased competition for places means that schemes may be brought forward.

To see what's available, search law vacation schemes.

How to get a summer job

  • Decide what you want to achieve - Are you looking to earn some extra money in preparation for the next academic year, or do you have a clear plan that relates to your career?
  • Make use of university support - Your university careers service will have listings of opportunities on offer as well as helping you with your CV and interview preparation.
  • Apply early - Some large organisations, particularly banks and supermarkets, can take more than 10 weeks from advertising a role to starting someone. If you need to start working immediately, target local shops, bars and restaurants, as they often take people on far quicker.
  • Be proactive - Hand out CVs in person, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors. Or phone the company to introduce yourself to a targeted individual, outlining what you're looking for.

Find out more