After all the hard studying, lab works and exams are done, what are science students to do with their holidays? While I definitely don’t advocate non-stop work, there are some not too time consuming ways that you can not only maintain some baseline scientific work, but also enhance your CV and further your future career! Plus you should probably have some actual time off…
1. Work experience
Any ideas on what you want to do when you graduate? As scary as a thought this is, you can use
holiday time to both gain experience and find out what jobs you love doing. If you are willing to do
an unpaid placement, there are loads of options including working for academic societies, in
parliament, research in industry or academia and many more! If you are looking to make some
money, there are some paid research placements, including summer placements with generous
stipends. I personally did an eight week summer placement, where I got paid £200 a week, and left with enough data for a research paper!
2. Conferences and training
If you aren’t a member of any academic societies, you should change that. Joining fees for students are usually heavily discounted and can provide many benefits. Then start looking at what training opportunities and conferences they are running. Training could give you some extra skills on top of your degree and that extra edge you need to be a cut above your competitors at an interview. Conferences on the other hand are superb for networking and making contact with possible future
employers, but also for learning about the cutting-edge research in your field.
3. Writing and blogging
Writing is another good way to build those all-important CV friendly skills! See if your university has
a student newspaper, and offer to write for them. You could try and find a blog that specifically
caters for science stories (like pH7!), or at least one that is of general interest. Failing that, start your own blog! With websites like blogspot and wordpress, it is very easy to set up a professional looking blog and start writing about whatever area of science interests you. Blogging and writing careers in science are on the rise, and regardless, the writing skills will come in handy for the rest of your degree and in academia too!
4. Science communication
Being able to effectively communicate science to the general public is a sought after skill. Many
academics are now expected to partake in periods of science communication, so having these skills is just another piece of the puzzle for an academic CV. Talking to the public can also be nerve-racking, so with practice it will do wonders for your confidence and general communication skills. Many universities encourage students to try science communication, so it is all about keeping your eyes open for opportunities. There are external science communication organisations too, who are usually looking for student volunteers.
5. And finally, just take some time off
University is hard. Doing a science degree is even harder. You deserve some time off – WITH NO
SCIENCE! As hard as it may be for some of you to let go, just go on a holiday, play some video games, see your family!