Ella Wellington, Cardiff Award recent Alumna, shares how she made the most of her summer break last year and gives tips on how you can make the most of your summer……
I had so many aspirations in my first year of Uni, a bucket-list of everything I wanted to achieve, new hobbies I wanted to try, work experience I wanted to find… but of course, I got to the beginning of my second year and had just about achieved none of them. I needed something that would hold me accountable (other than nagging parents), and the Cardiff Award seemed to provide just the right balance of it all. A structured program, but one that I could work on in my own time. So I quickly signed up, and thankfully it provided me with exactly what I needed; enough support and encouragement to achieve my personal goals.
Blake Morgan LLP, one of the sponsors of the CA, advertised a one week summer placement with the company to the students on the award. I study Human Geography at Uni, and much like many other students, was much undecided on what career path I wanted to pursue… I had dabbled in many fields. I decided to hedge my bets and apply to the scheme at Blake Morgan, and much to my surprise I got chosen! I completed my week with the firm in their Cardiff office, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the perfect experience: mixed with research activities, working in a professional environment, and a mock-interview at the end of the week with one of the partners of the firm. I spent each day with a different department, and so I got a great feel to some different areas that the world of Law works within; I learnt a lot about the field that I didn’t previously know about. Luckily the experience did not put me off the path towards Law, and as a result I should be returning next academic year to begin my Law Conversion and hopefully pursue a career within this field.
Much like many other students, I have been bitten by the travel bug. In my first year of Uni a charity expedition to Machu Picchu arose and I jumped at the opportunity! Through taking part in this expedition, I was given the opportunity to team-lead the expedition the following year at Cardiff University. This was a very challenging experience, one that brought a lot of responsibility, but nonetheless it was definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience! The charity I was supporting is known as Worldwide Cancer Research, one of the only Cancer Research charities that fund the best research projects from across the world. As a team we managed to raise over £47,000 for the charity! My role as a team-leader was to be a point of contact and support for the participants in their fundraising efforts, and their preparation for the trek that was approaching over the summer. I did this through producing fundraising workshops, support over email and Facebook, face-to-face meetings, and through arranging socials for the team to bond before our departure. It was a great experience and one that has taught me many leadership skills, and the ability to trust my intuition.
My top tips for using your time wisely over the summer holidays, would be to:
- Use your free time wisely over the academic year… apply for internships/placements/work experience activities. An employer loves to see that you have spent your free time doing something productive, something that will better yourself as a person.
- Look into the field that you think you would like to work in, are there any particular traits that are desirable? For example, if a firm is looking for someone with a strong ability to prioritise their work load… finding a volunteering job during your studies, may show that you are able to juggle your work and a job, that you have learnt when you need to prioritise your time so that you can fit in everything you would need to.
- Make a plan of what you wish to achieve by the end of your uni experience… there are so many courses offered through the uni, you just need to know who to ask or where to look. The Skills Development Service, offer a whole host of courses and qualifications including: first aid, and certificates in professional development skills… https://www.cardiffstudents.com/jobs-skills/skills-development-service/signing-up/.
Reflecting on my experience has been a great way of recognising the skills I have developed through taking part in extra-curricular activities. Reflecting has also been so useful when writing my skills-based CV, it has meant that I have been able to identify skills that I have evidence of, so when completing job applications I have examples ready to use. I found that writing a small diary entry of my experience whilst on my work placement was a great way for me to reflect on my time spent there… I completed so many tasks each day, and spent a day in a different department throughout the week, that if I hadn’t have spent 10 minutes of my lunch break reflecting, I don’t think I would have remembered half of what I had achieved.
Plan ahead, take the initiative, and have some fun… find something that you enjoy doing, to make the most of your time at university!
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and Money, Careers and Employability, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support. The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.