9 Summer Activities for School Students Who Want the Best Possible Career Opportunities

Everyone looks forward to the summer holidays: blazing hot sunshine, ice creams, no schoolwork, endless fun…

However, the reality is that the holidays can seem to stretch out indefinitely, and after the first week enjoying the novelty of freedom, boredom inevitably sets in.
If you’re serious about doing well in school, going to a good university and securing your dream job, don’t waste your summer; use it productively and help to improve your future prospects. Here are some ideas to help you plan an interesting and rewarding summer holiday.

Get a summer job

Image shows a waitress lighting candles in a restaurant.
You may find a job that relates to your chosen profession is hard to come by, but getting some experience of the service industry can be valuable and shows employers that you have real-world experience.

One of the best things you can do during the summer holiday to enhance your future prospects is to get yourself a summer job. It could be absolutely anything, because whatever you do, it will help enhance your CV and develop your business and ‘people’ skills. Even better, you’ll earn some extra pocket money. If you’re not sure what sort of thing you might want to do, here’s some inspiration for you.
– Work experience in your chosen profession – if you already have a particular career in mind, try to secure some work experience in a relevant organisation. For instance, if you want to be a lawyer, try to get some work experience in a legal firm.
– Work in a shop – it may not sound glamorous, but working on a shop floor will improve your customer service skills, which will be valuable experience in whatever profession you end up in. Even if you aren’t intending to go into a profession that involves direct contact with the general public, the skills you’ll pick up in a job like this will still come in useful for dealing effectively with colleagues, understanding customer needs and developing sales skills.
– Working on a farm – farms often need extra help during the summer months, particularly those that involve tasks such as fruit picking and summer activities for children. Not only does farm work get you outdoors, enjoying some fresh air and exercise, but it also helps you develop teamwork skills and knowledge of how a business operates and turns a profit.
– Work as a tour guide – this may not be applicable to everyone, but if you live in an area popular with tourists, why not see if you can get some work giving guided tours? Not only will you earn some money, but you’ll develop your interpersonal skills, become confident in speaking knowledgeably to groups of people and deploying facts learnt from memory – all useful skills for university and the world of work beyond. And it’s a stimulating job that means you get out and about and learning interesting new things.
– Tutor a younger student – if you’re particularly gifted at a particular subject at school, you may be able to find some part-time work as a private tutor to a younger student. To gain such work, try asking at school or advertising locally. If you tutor the subject you want to study at university, this would undoubtedly help strengthen your university application, and long-term it would be valuable experience if you decide you want to be a teacher of any kind.

Go on a summer school

Image shows ORA students relaxing in the sunshine.
For really immersing yourself in learning, it’s hard to beat a summer school.

To make real progress in your academic work, away from the possible distractions and stresses of your normal school environment, why not go on a summer school? This would allow you to immerse yourself in an academic bubble for a couple of weeks and get a headstart with the subjects you’ll be studying next term. If you’re applying for university in your next academic term, you could even register on a university preparation course to help you do as well as possible in your application. You can view our full range of summer school courses here.

Set yourself a course of reading

One of the great things about the summer holidays is that you don’t have looming deadlines or exams to worry about. Take advantage of this lack of pressure and plenty of spare time by making a start on some reading. If you can, get hold of a reading list for next term. This will give you a head start compared to your peers, who probably won’t have read what’s on the reading list, and it means that when you come to the new term, you’ll be able to devote more of your time to reading around your subject, deepening your knowledge and giving you a much greater range of insights to talk about in your essays and exams. So get down to the library and look forward to an easier time of it next term!

Run a study group

With all that time off over the summer, it’s easy to lose touch with your academic skills. One way of keeping your mind academically active is to organise a regular meet-up with similarly studious friends so that you have other people to learn with. You could organise some academic discussions or debates, or simply form a book group in which you compare notes on a different book each week. If you debate topics and study books relevant to what you’ll be covering in the new academic year, you’ll also be extremely well prepared and better able to read more widely when term comes round. This will mean you end up impressively well-informed in your exams and beyond.

Write a novel

Image shows an old-fashioned typewriter.
Working on a novel helps dispel the fear of a blank page, and completing it will feel like a real achievement.

As the saying goes, everyone has a novel in them. The actual process of writing one is challenging and time-consuming, but very rewarding. It doesn’t have to be a best-seller, but it will keep you occupied for much of the summer and it will be a great thing to talk about on your university application. What’s more, the self-discipline it teaches you will be valuable, and the short essays you write at school will seem easy in comparison. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place in November, but why wait until then?

Learn a new language

A second language can be really useful for job applications and certain degree courses, but it’s also an academic challenge that keeps your mind active and teaches you new skills and increases your self-discipline. If you decide to devote your summer to learning a new language, you’ll find it easier if you’re learning with other people. Try enrolling on an evening class or summer school, or find a private tutor to help you with pronunciation and conversation. Audio study books are also extremely useful for languages, as you’ll quickly start to pick up how the language should sound.

Experience new things

Make the most of your summer holiday to try as many new things as you can. You never know when your experiences may be relevant to an academic discussion or to a future job, and you may end up feeling inspired to pursue a particular career. Here are some ideas for some inspiring new things for you to try this summer.
– Volunteer for a charity – pick a charity that means something to you, and do a good turn and learn some new skills at the same time.
– Take up a new hobby – hobbies aren’t just fun – they can teach skills such as teamwork and self-discipline. It could be a sport, craft, musical instrument or absolutely anything else that takes your fancy.

Image shows some carrots, half of which have been chopped, and a knife on a chopping board.
The summer can be a great time to perfect a tricky recipe – you’ll please your family, and have something up your sleeve to impress your university flatmates too!

– Learn to cook – cooking is a life skill that will come in very handy at university and beyond, so try learning a few new staple recipes over the summer to up your skills in the kitchen.
– Make a film – try grouping together with some friends to shoot a short amateur film. You never know, you might enjoy it so much that you decide it’s what you want to do for a career!
– Sit in on a legal case in court – you’re allowed to sit in on a legal case in a court of law, as they’re public places. Here’s a bit more about it and how to do it. You don’t have to want to be a lawyer to benefit from this interesting experience, although it’s obviously a good thing to do if want to be one, and if you don’t, it might inspire you to become one.
– Climb a mountain – this may not sound particularly beneficial to you in the long run, but there are still a few life skills it can teach you – for example navigation, and determination. Scaling a mountain is character-building stuff and teaches you a lot about your own approach to overcoming challenges.


Image shows a canal in Venice.
Whether it’s to improve your language skills, to explore history sites or simply to see more of the world, travelling is a great way to spend a summer.

Summer holidays shouldn’t all be about hard work – you need some time to unwind as well, and a change of scene could do you the power of good. Using part of your summer to do some travelling – no matter where in the world you decide to travel to (you could even stay in your own country and visit new places in it) – will give you valuable life experience, so at the same time as having fun and seeing a bit more of the world, you’ll also indirectly be helping to improve your prospects. Travelling gives you a different perspective on life back home, can be inspiring, teaches interpersonal skills and develops confidence and maturity. To make the most of your time abroad, here are some tips:
– Talk to the locals – force yourself to communicate with the locals, ideally in their own language. This helps develop your communication and language skills, but it will also give you a deeper appreciation of different cultures and develop your confidence at the same time.
– Learn about the history of the places you visit, so that you can gain a deeper understanding of what has made a country or city the way it is. Understanding places in their historical context is a useful analytical skill that can be applied to many subjects, particularly humanities.
– Get off the beaten track – don’t just visit the well-trodden tourist havens – try to experience the ‘real’ side of a country, rather than what’s put on for tourists.
– Keep a travel journal – at the end of each day, write an account of what you’ve seen and done, and record your thoughts and observations on the cultural differences you’ve experienced. You’d be surprised at how much you forget if you don’t write it down, and the process of writing down your thoughts helps you think more deeply about your experiences.

Revamp your room

Image shows a pleasantly decorated, tidy bedroom.
Making your room a pleasant place to be in can make all the difference to the quality of your study.

To improve your future prospects indirectly, give your room a makeover so that it’s a pleasant environment to study in. As we noted in our article on productivity, a good working environment is a key factor in how easily you’re able to study – and therefore how much you achieve. To prepare yourself for the new term, so that you approach it with renewed motivation, here are a few things you can do to transform your room into the perfect study zone:
– Paint the walls – you’d be amazed how much a lick of paint can transform a room and make it feel clean and fresh.
– Put up a pinboard – you can use this for your To Do lists, and later on for flashcards to help you learn and revise. You could also put up some motivational quotes to help inspire you, as well as some photographs that make you feel happy and motivated.
– Get a nice new desk and chair – invest in a good-sized desk (if there’s room) and a comfortable chair with lumbar support to help your posture when you’re studying.
– Tidy – give your room the most thorough tidy it’s ever had. Chuck stuff you don’t need, as decluttering will help clear your mind so that you can make room for all the new things you’ll be learning. Ensure that all your study materials are easily accessible so that you always know where everything is.
You can also improve your room with some house plants, which release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, making the air fresher and making you feel healthier. Just don’t forget to water them!

Make a summer To Do list

Overall, we’ve listed too many things here for you to do in a single summer, so why not pick the ones you like best – and which are most applicable to the university and career path you want to take – and use them to compile a summer To Do list? That way, you’ll have a clear plan of how you’ll spend your summer and you can have fun ticking things off.

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Image credits: banner; waitress; typewriter; carrots; Venice; bedroom.