CAREERS BLOG: Do you know what you’re doing this summer?

UoY Careers Imagine the possibilities LARGE dark green Careers blog by Irena Zientek, Information Resources Manager, Careers

The summer vacation is looming up on the horizon – how are you going to spend it?

We all know that work experience is important (preferably in a sector or job that’s relevant to long-term career aims), as employers are more interested in candidates who have a practical understanding of the world of work. So many students use their summer vacation working in some capacity – be it a formal internship or a more casual job, which can give them skills, as well as a pay packet.

Summer internships

Lots of graduate recruiters run summer internships, but these are often advertised in the previous Autumn Term and successful candidates are appointed well before the first daffodils are flowering in Spring.

So, what can you do, if you’ve missed or don’t want these types of vacation schemes? There are still other opportunities out there – have a look at some of the following suggestions.

Other UK summer work vacancies

Smaller companies may be hiring, but just not as early as the bigger firms. Make sure you’re checking some of the main vacancy sites, such as Careers Gateway, Prospects and TargetJobs. For a list of vacancy websites, have a look at the information sheets, How to get work experience and internships and Finding part-time and temporary work in the UK. There are also nine other information sheets about work experience in specific sectors of work (media, psychology and environment, among them).

The Student Internship Bureau advertises paid, project-based internships, which are advertised via Careers Gateway. Have a look at some of the past projects students have undertaken on the SIB web pages.

Some towns and cities may have a need for seasonal workers. York, being a tourist destination, has a lot of hotels, restaurants, hospitality and tourist-related work. Check out the information sheet, Finding part-time and temporary work in the UK for ideas of where to look for jobs.

Speculative applications and networking

If you don’t see adverts for the sorts of summer jobs you’d like, try hunting out opportunities in the ‘hidden market’. Research the sorts of companies you’re interested in, use any helpful networks and contacts you might have (family members or friends of friends, perhaps), and send your CV and covering letter to companies. If you’re feeling brave, why not knock on a few doors and find out what might be available out there?

Make sure you’ve got an up-to-date CV and that your covering letter tells an employer what you’re looking for – don’t be vague. Also, it’s not just about you wanting work – what’s in it for the employer? Why should they offer you work? What experiences or skills can you bring to their company?

Use the information sheets, Successful networking and Writing a CV and covering letter for more information and advice. Don’t forget, you can have your applications reviewed at a CV/application review appointment at Careers. 

Overseas opportunities

The chance to work overseas may come through a formal internship, a scheme or voluntary role. Recruitment for many internships offered by larger companies, may have already been completed, but it’s still worth checking the vacancy sources and jobs sites listed on the information sheets (see the section, Other UK summer work vacancies earlier in this blog). There’s also an information sheet, Working outside the UK, which gives resources and advice.

There are other opportunities with companies, who offer schemes to work in a voluntary capacity (such as BUNAC and Camp America). Find out more about these via the information sheets, Working outside the UK and Taking time out.

Like some parts of the UK, there may be opportunities for seasonal work in some European (and further afield) tourist areas. There may also be children’s camps, running throughout the school holidays or TEFL posts, could also offer the chance of work for the vacation.


Volunteering – whether it’s a few hours working in a charity shop, helping out with a community group or spending time on a local environmental project – can provide lots of opportunities to develop and enhance your skills. Voluntary work also gives a good sense of a work place, as well as the chance to work as part of a team and give your time and effort to a worthwhile cause.

Check out possible opportunities at, a national volunteering database – you can search by UK geographical location for the nearest ones to you.

Other things to do

There’s a range of other things you can do, separately or alongside a summer job, which could also give you some valuable skills and experience. These include:

  • short courses – brush up your IT or your language skills with online/distance learning or stand-alone courses in your local area
  • write a blog or contribute to an online forum to enhance your communication and research skills
  • take up a new hobby / sport or get creative (whether it’s model making or knitting) – trying something different can give you a challenge and help develop new skills
  • travel (UK or overseas) – travel broadens the mind, expands your cultural awareness and helps you discover new environments.

Whatever you do this summer, make the most of your time and the opportunities available to add to your experiences and understanding. If you need ideas, information or advice, check out the resources listed here or book a careers advice / careers information appointment.