December 7, 2016, by Antonia Munday

How the Best Summer Ever Can Build Your CV

By student blogger Antonia Munday, BA Hons English Literature and Language

I may have found the ultimate CV building experience: Camp America. Last summer I set off on what I thought would be a three month holiday, baking in the heat by a lake. Not that it wasn’t all of that, but it turned out to be pretty good for my CV too, and it certainly beat photocopying and filing every day.

I was lucky enough to spend three months in Casco, Maine. It was a life changing experience that gave me a range of skills, which potential employers will love.

More and more emphasis has been put on the importance of ‘soft skills.’ A good CV doesn’t just focus on academic achievement and experience, but also reflects your other qualities; skills that can’t be demonstrated by having the best exam results.

I will be honest, applying for camp was potentially more stressful than applying to university – it even made UCAS seem straightforward. I chose to apply through an agency, Camp Leaders, something that I would recommend as it took a lot of the stress away. You create a profile and then they find a camp for you. Your profile is essentially a miniature CV in which you have to list your skills. It’s best to list as many as possible to ensure you are chosen by camps. You also have to make a video of yourself to show camps that you’re fun and interesting  – the video I made has been deleted from any website and thankfully is no longer in existence  – it’s a bit cringey, but that’s what camps are looking for.

Camp America Application Profile

Getting Organised

The paperwork I had to complete that followed the application thoroughly demonstrates the first skill I put on my CV: organisation. If you can navigate the U.S. Embassy website, which definitely has not been updated since the 1990s, then you can do anything. You have to attend prep days and embassy appointments – coordinating all this takes time and patience, however it has definitely helped me be more organised.

Leading Without Boring

Another skill that I learned at camp is the ability to lead and how to adapt my leadership style for different groups. Managing to persuade a group of 12 year old children not to run away on a beach trip or managing to get my bunk to go to bed the right side of midnight taught me this. The ability to lead a range of activities is something that I was forced to learn at camp – the day that I had to teach woodworking was interesting, however I think I managed to persuade (some) of the kids that I was in my element.

Not Just Small Talk

Being able to communicate effectively, both between myself and the children, and myself and my peers, was crucial I had to get on the same level as the children; striking the balance between being helpful, but not condescending. For instance when trying to persuade someone to get in the water, if you patronise them too much, chances are you’ll end up in there yourself. Similarly communicating with my peers and head counsellors was important so that we could ensure that the children had the best possible experience.

Here’s my top three tips in being successful in applying to camp:

  1. Apply early – look out for summer camp employers doing presentations on campus, and get your application in as early as possible
  2. Make a video – this is your chance to show off your personality, some camps won’t even consider your application without a video – it’s quite fun making one as well!
  3. Don’t give up – it is a long process, but it is so rewarding! The amount of time I spent on my application seemed so irrelevant once I was out there

Working at a summer camp in America has given me a skill set that can be adapted to a range of jobs. It demonstrates so much more than a set of grades ever could. It’s a job that allows you to have the experience of a lifetime and gives you friends around the world – I’m really working on that holiday to Australia.  At the time I definitely didn’t realise that I was developing all these skills, which is perhaps the best part of the job; it’s effortless, yet so rewarding.

If you’re dreaming of summer already, take a look at the part-time and vacation work section our website for more ideas and inspiration. 

Posted in Applying For JobsStudent BloggersWork experience