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By Wendy Butterworth - Careers & Welfare Site Leader

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How to make the most of your summer during a pandemic

As we all adjust to a ‘new normal’ over the coming months, there are three key aspects that will play a vital role in ‘Building Back Better’.

The holiday you had planned may have been cancelled, and the job you had lined up may be uncertain. You are probably thinking ahead to next term and wondering if things will be back to normal? Or will we still be living in the new normal we’ve come to know over the past few months?

The summer holidays are a great time to reflect on the past year, to take stock of how far you’ve come. It’s a time to plan and look forward to the next chapter of your life, whether that’s returning to college, starting university or even starting a new job or apprenticeship. Building on from my previous blog about where we looked at how you can research your career options - this blog will focus on 2 key things you can do this summer to take the next steps towards your career.

1. Reflection

Making the most of the summer and planning for your next steps will help you along your journey, and this involves reflecting back on where you’ve come from. It may seem odd, but reflection is a skill, something you need to work on. Being able to look back on what you’ve done what you’ve achieved, will help you to see exactly how far you’ve come. 

An easy way to begin is to imagine you are updating your CV, what things could you add to it, that perhaps you couldn’t add 3 months ago. Think about the questions below, how you would answer them, and whether your answers would be relevant to build into your future career planning.

  • What new skills have you learned? This could be improving your digital skills, such as remote learning, or perhaps you started a new hobby over the lockdown. How do these new skills link to your future career?
  • How have you adapted to the change? Do you feel you can handle change quite well, or was this something you had to work on?
  • What have you learned about yourself? Perhaps you’ve realised that you can work quite well in isolation, or that you need to be around others and struggled without the social interaction being in education or work offers.
  • Has virtual learning worked for you? If so, why? This could open up options around further virtual learning in the future.
  • What’s inspired you over the past 3 months and why? Did you learn any lessons from it and how would you go about building on that?

2. Voluntary work

This is a great way to gain some experience. It can help you to develop essential transferable skills which employers value and look for in their employees. It’s also a great way to try out different roles to find out what you are good at, what you enjoy and what interests you. This knowledge can be powerful and could open doors to new career possibilities you never even thought of.

Volunteering can also be good for your mind and body. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety, as the social interaction, helping others and making new friendships and connections can make you feel positive about yourself. Volunteering is a proactive way of keeping yourself busy and depending on what you do, can also be form of physical exercise, keeping you active with a sense of purpose and adding structure to your week. Even if you have limited mobility, there are opportunities for you. All you need to do is search for them. 

So how do you work out which opportunity is right for you?

Firstly, ask yourself whether there’s something specific you want to do. Perhaps you want to get involved in your local community, or develop new skills, or improve yourself in some way. Perhaps you want to give back and help others or make new connections and friends. Perhaps something over the past 3 months has inspired you to push yourself further. Whatever the reason, this will help you to start considering what the right type of opportunity is.

Here are some links to help you start your search for opportunities:

Do It
You can search thousands of opportunities and you can search using your interests and activities.

Timebank
Find out about how you can volunteer. Timebank puts you in touch with projects and opportunities.

Vinspired 
Aimed at 16-25 year olds. Search for opportunities in England.

Manchester Volunteer Inspire Programme 

You can get involved with projects in your local community.

As always, your Careers & Welfare team are here to help you explore your career goals and plan for your future. To find out more, get in touch with us careers&welfare@tmc.ac.uk or via our Twitter @CareersTMC

Stay safe and happy planning,
Wendy