Your extended summer break is the perfect time to gain work experience and earn some extra cash. Summer jobs for students are available in a variety of industries and roles and are a great way to put some of your free time to good use

Festivals and events

Working at a festival isn't the best option if you're looking for a cash booster, as you're usually paid with an entry ticket. However, if you work hard and use your time wisely, festival jobs enable you to network and build contacts. These 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. Alternatively, you could work as part of the crew, building stages and setting up marquees and hospitality areas.

For some roles you'll apply directly to the festival organisers by uploading a CV as well as providing 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 work within the education sector. 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 AmericaCamp 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. Read more about summer camp jobs in the USA.

Bear in mind that in light of the pandemic some travel restrictions are still in place. Do your research to make sure you can safely travel to your chosen destination and check GOV.UK - Foreign travel advice.

Alternatively, you could stay in the UK and get a job at a play scheme 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'll 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, a range of summer jobs may be of interest to you.

If you have good local knowledge you could guide walks and nature trails. If you like working with animals, why not consider temporary roles at wildlife parks, safari parks or zoos, which are often busier over the summer months.

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.

Catering and bar work

One of the most obvious ways a student can spend their summer is working in bars, cafés, restaurants and hotels.

Bar tending, waiting and front of house roles such as receptionists are readily available, often on part-time or temporary contracts, to help organisations cope with the busy summer crowds.

This is great experience if you want to get into the hospitality industry. If not, jobs such as these still provide you with a range of transferable skills such as customer service, the ability to multitask, teamwork and time management.

Retail jobs

Another obvious way to spend your summer is working in retail. If you want to work in the industry 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, while 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.

University jobs

While lectures are off and summer is all about taking a break from studying, this doesn't mean that universities completely shut down during the warmer months. Temporary jobs are still available on campus during this period as institutions still need admin staff to man their offices and on campus facilities such as bars, shops and libraries remain open.

Visit your university's job shop to find out what's available over the summer months and learn 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 The TEFL Academy (TTA).

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 and working abroad. Again, check GOV.UK advice before you travel.

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.

If you struggle to secure an in-person internship there are a variety of virtual work experience opportunities that you can complete from home.

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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