December 20, 2019, by Dale
Five Dos and Don’ts of a Christmas break
By Dale Claridge, chemistry graduate
The first semester of university can be pretty hectic. Whether you’re bogged down with essays and lab reports, or you’ve finally found a spare moment to start preparing for January exams, graduation can seem like more of a distant fantasy than an inevitability.
However, anyone with friends who have completed their degrees, knows that graduation can sneak up on you faster than you expect. Putting a little bit of effort into thinking long-term about your employability can save you a lot of stress a little further down the line.
With a few simple steps, it can be very easy to set yourself up for graduation and to catch a breath at the same time.
Do: Your examiners are going to know whether you’ve been naughty or nice, so be good for goodness sake!
The moment term ends, you have a four-week stretch ahead of you. You can either crash for three weeks, and spend the rest of your time frantically trying to scrabble through enough revision to pass your exams, or you can take a few days to clear your head, plan some fun activities and keep yourself on a fairly tight schedule.
Being organised will pay off. You’ll have time to recover from New Year’s Eve and really enjoy your Christmas dinner, without subconsciously imploding because of how much work you know you still have to do.
If watching YouTube videos or flicking through Instagram is your way of having fun, then do that, but be tactical and monitor yourself. Set Instagram or PlayStation breaks, and don’t stay up until 4am watching Netflix (…at least not every night!)
Do: Make a list of internships and placements deadlines, and check it twice
You may want the summer to provide you with exactly what you need to augment your employability and help you network and make connections. You may just want to spend your summer relaxing at home, or travelling around the world. Whatever you want to do, having a plan helps.
Be conscious of summer opportunity deadlines. Make a list of your anticipated applications and the dates by which you need to have sorted them out, so that you’re not juggling coursework and emergency applications halfway through second semester. If you want to do a year abroad, you must be mindful of Erasmus+ or U21 applications. Many internship programmes require you to apply in late December or January. Academic studentship funding often has deadlines around March or April.
Equally, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking the summer to decompress after cramming roughly the equivalent of six or seven A levels into a couple of weeks. Just make sure that you’re doing it the way you want to. If you want to be sitting on the sofa, or cannoning down a rapid somewhere in South America, now is the time to ensure that you’re not doing that just because you missed all the Goldman Sachs summer placements.
Do: Work like an elf
Unless you find yourself with nothing to do over Christmas, you probably shouldn’t be taking on a full-time job. However, if there’s somewhere you work most holidays, it’s great to pick up a few extra shifts if you can. It’s experience on your CV and it’s useful to be able to live and work at home rent-free while you save up some money.
Another great reason to this, is that you can use it for points for the Nottingham Advantage award if you apply before Christmas!
Do: Spread the Christmas cheer… and network a little bit at the same time
Often when people talk about networking, many of us think about Etonian-style old-boys’ clubs and riding on the success of family members. However, in almost any career area it helps to know someone who can help you get your foot in the door. So, consider talking to members of your family, family friends, or email someone you admire. Feel out new connections – maybe they could get you some work experience in a competitive industry? They may also have some great insights into different professions you hadn’t thought about.
Don’t: Burn yourself out; have a happy holiday
With all this career planning and exam revision, be careful not to overdo it. January assessments might be rough, and no amount of relaxation is going to magically provide you with the answer in the middle of an exam, but revision also won’t be enough if you’re completely burnt out. We’ve only got a short break between the end of exams and the second semester. Plan wisely, and recharge your batteries.
Season’s greetings from all of us in the Careers and Employability Service. Have a restful break and pop in and see us in the New Year!