So you’ve finished your exams. What a relief! All those months of work and the recent weeks of last-minute study to make sure your brain was as crammed full of information as possible. Not to mention the sweat-inducing stress of sitting scribbling in exam rooms day after day.

It’s now over and, if you’re an overseas student, you can journey home to see friends and family. Perhaps you’ll go to a festival or two and generally relax and forget about study. But the summer holiday is about six weeks long; could there be something productive you could do with your time?

Unless you are certain your exam marks are going to be top-notch and you already have the next stage of your life planned out, there are loads of practical things you can do over the summer to set you on your way to the career and lifestyle of your dreams.

1. Find work


This may feel like the last thing you want to think about just as you finish your exams, but the work needn’t be too arduous. Even if you don’t need the money, this is a chance to get some valuable experience that you can draw upon in future academic and job interviews. Consider interning at a company that you admire or that is in your field of study.

Investigate the opportunities within the voluntary sector. If you’re the entrepreneurial kind, look for an organisation like the Young Enterprise Scheme. They have a range of programmes to cover all age groups for young people (under the age of 25) and are designed to improve key skills that future employers are seeking such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork and financial capability.
If you’re returning home after study in the UK, does your home country has something similar? Of course, you don’t have to sign up to a scheme to start your own business! Work with a friend or seek out a mentor and see if you can make your business idea profitable within the six week window.

2. Learn a new skill


Being able to explain to interviewers that you have hobbies you are passionate about is helpful. It shows personality and a roundness of character. However, if you can show that you took up a new sport, learned the basics of new language or have begun to master a new instrument over the summer holidays, this speaks volumes about your ability to take the initiative and set yourself goals.

If you already have hobbies, think about what new targets you could set yourself. If you play a musical instrument, could you pass the next grade by the end of the summer? If you’re an artist, perhaps you could try to sell some of your art in local cafés, enter a competition or start your own Instagram account showcasing your work. The aim here is not to bog yourself down with more exams and study, but instead to use the time you have to focus on activities you enjoy and demonstrate a level of achievement that you will be able to benefit from in the future.

3. Use scenario planning


If you’re worried about what exam results might await you in a few months’ time, scenario planning can really help alleviate the panic. All you have to do is to imagine the various situations you may find yourself once you have received your results and picture what your reaction to the news will be.

What will happen if you pass with flying colours? What will happen if your results are disappointing?

Thinking about your options now will not only give you a head start when the time comes, but it’ll be a weight of your mind to know that the earth won’t grind to a halt if you don’t get the results you expect.

Here’s an example;

Scenario 1: I get much better than expected exam results!

Options to research:

Would I be able to swap to a more challenging degree or a more prestigious university?
Are there any other ways that this could benefit my future academic or working career?

Scenario 2: I got the grades I needed.

Options to research:

If going to uni; confirm that my place at university is secure
If looking for work; how to ace any interviews- what will make me stand out?

Scenario 3: I didn’t pass my exams.

Options to research:

Would I want to resit my exams and, if so, how would I go about this?
Where could I resit exams and where would be my first choice?
If I wanted to resit exams, would there be any financial implications? Is there any way I could plan for this?
If you have a friend who’s in a similar situation to you, you could join forces and halve the time it’ll take to do your research.

Sharing your hopes and fears with someone else is extremely useful; they may even come up with options you hadn’t even thought of.

The best way to spend your summer is to blend fun with the sensible.

We very much hope that you make the most of your time and wish you the best of luck with your exam results.