While the summer months are usually synonymous with free time and fun, consider putting the break from studying to good use. Summer jobs are a great way to build up your finances and can have a positive effect on your career in the long run

Festivals and events

You're usually paid with an entry ticket so working at a festival isn't the best option if you're looking for a cash booster. However, if you work hard and use your time wisely you can network and build contacts, which are especially important if you want a career in areas such as event management or to 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 break working with children at a summer camp is a great way to gain experience if you want to be a teacher or educational mentor. You could work at a general or specialist camp for children with additional needs or at a sports camp. Once you've chosen where you want to work you need to decide what you want to do - roles include mentor, camp counsellor, 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, Camp Canada, and Bunac, allow you to travel after camp ends enabling 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. Run during the summer holidays, they provide activity-based programmes for school-aged children. They generally don't last the whole summer and may be split, which is helpful if you have less time to dedicate. Local authorities have a list of what's available and you will need an up-to-date CV to apply. Some roles will require a completed 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).

Outdoor activities

If you're the outdoor type there are a range of summer jobs that may be of interest to you.

If you have good local knowledge you could guide walks and nature trails. You could also combine your love of the outdoors with working with children. Contact outdoor activity organisations, such as PGL, to enquire about vacancies.

If your ambition is to work in sports you could get involved in coaching local teams or teaching children how to play. Kings Camp runs activity camps for children aged between 5 and 17.

Theme park jobs are also worth considering. Roles include theme park assistant, ride operator, retail assistant, performer, café assistant, pool lifeguard and arcade assistant.

All of the above jobs could provide a route into the leisure, sport and tourism industries.

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. What’s more this type of experience is vital if you’d like to move on to a retail graduate scheme.

Depending on the type of shop you could be assisting customers, serving on the till, processing orders, 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 as a foreign language might be for you. Countries such as China, Spain, South America and South East Asia have numerous vacancies. There are also 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.

Search for international TEFL opportunities in a range of locations, from Chile to Thailand, at Premier TEFL.

Any degree is sufficient but subjects including English, linguistics and modern languages will be useful. Most employers 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 abroad.

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 two weeks to three months, gaining a place is as competitive as applying for a job and you should treat it as such. Many employers ask you to 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 gives 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.

Find out more about law work experience.

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 and will be able to help you with your CV and interview preparation.
  • Apply early - Some large organisations, particularly banks and supermarkets, can take more than ten 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

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