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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

Making the most of your summer – from placements, to courses, to (hopefully) a bit of relaxation…

View of Princes Street with the sun behind the Scott Monument
Reading Time: 4 minutes

…by Katie / from Wales, UK / studying LLB (Graduate Entry)

The academic year is busy. You have lectures, tutorials, exams and assignments – all while trying to juggle a study-life balance. Often people work part-time jobs and become part of many societies and clubs. So, it is only normal that when summer comes around, that feeling of anticlimax hits hard when you realise that now you don’t have much to do. Of course, you need a bit of relaxation time before heading back for the next academic year. A chance to reset is important – that’s a given. But if you want to use even a small part of your summer to do something a little bit different, here are some ideas.


The first idea you could consider is volunteering. If you are like me, summer means you have more time to put into the volunteering role you already have during term time (for example increasing the number of days you attend). I have friends who found new volunteering experiences throughout the summer. Some moved abroad for them, others stayed right here. Some of these activities benefitted their courses and their learning, some were merely a chance to help out in areas they were committed to making a difference. Either way, volunteering is a big tick in the box as something you could consider during summer. The chances are you will meet likeminded people there too – another bonus!

Work Placement

What about a placement? I have had my fair share of these and I can vouch that they are great in making you feel productive. For example, during my languages undergraduate degree, I began my placement in Quebec earlier in my summer than some others in my cohort began their own placements. I chose to move to Canada, begin my placement and in turn start increasing my French competency as quickly as I could once my VISA came in. That was a productive use of my spare time and paid off in the long run. And what about now? I am currently tucked away in a Haymarket coffee shop writing this on lunch break of my summer legal placement with a law firm. I was hoping a vacation placement would be on the cards this summer as the application process was intense and time-consuming, not to mention the benefits of completing this placement could be incredible. Without going into the complexities of becoming a Scottish solicitor, the bottom line is that I have learned more about the actual field I wish to go into in just 2 weeks of placement than ever before. And I still have 1 week left! I have also learned more soft skills such as communication, interview skills, etc. that will only but benefit my future studies and career further. So far, I am happy to be completing a placement this Summer.

Work Experience

If you don’t fancy an in-person internship, not to worry. There are many online work experiences you can do with well-reputed firms. They create these experiences themselves and they allow the user to gain valuable and often career field specific skills that also look great on the CV. I personally always find Forage is a great website for such experiences. What’s more is that they can be completed in your own time and as much or as little as you want at a time too – ideal! I have done many of these – every one was different but every one was worth my time. If you want to get out and about, get in touch with some people and ask if they have shadowing or work experience opportunities. Some places take unsolicited applications so even if they are not advertising, getting in touch is not the worst idea in the world.

Summer Learning

You could also consider a summer school or summer course. If you want to keep your brain ticking over throughout the summer, why not apply for a summer school. There are many great ones right here in Scotland or you could go abroad and discover somewhere new whilst you’re at it. Many even offer scholarships – some you need to find yourself and some the university will let you know are available. For example, in the Summer of 2020, I received a scholarship to study with the Freie University Berlin on a course called “Internal and External Challenges of the European Union.” I heard about this through my department and applied through them. I was supported throughout too. This enhanced my CV and future applications and I was able to go on to apply the knowledge I had learned that summer in my law degree (with elements being especially useful in International and European Law modules). In the summer of 2022, I also enrolled on a 3 month German language course with a language school in Vienna – another similar opportunity to experience a new (and beautiful) place through study.

Getting more out of doing more

As a part of a summer experience, you can also sign up to complete a Self-Led Individually Created Course (SLICC). If you are in Year 1 or 2 of an undergraduate degree, this might be possible for you too. You need to work on your experience for at least 200 hours for at least 5 weeks – it is the equivalent of a 20 credit module. I am currently completing one based around my summer placement and the chance to reflect, consider and view my experience is a great chance to develop skills, mindsets and outlooks.

There really is nothing left to say than I hope that if you were motivated enough by this blog to consider a summer experience – if you were, I hope it’s your most productive summer yet!

Want to find out more?

Chat with Katie

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