By: Rachel Eddy
Are you currently in the process of writing your personal statement or a CV for a job or placement? Have all your summer jobs and camps been cancelled that you were banking on to spruce up your application? Are you in an Instagram and Netflix binging hole?
Fear no more because, believe it or not, there are ways to make yourself more employable and more appealing to universities and employers this summer. I am currently in the process of writing my CV and cover letter for my placement year and was planning on working abroad and taking part in academic studies this summer to boost my experience, but thanks to COVID-19, this is no longer a possibility. So, like many others, I have had to think outside the box and therefore have researched many different possibilities which can help you this summer.Firstly, Harvard free online courses. Harvard University have created free online courses for you to participate in, their topics include: History, Medicine, Maths, Languages, Anatomy, Physics, English Literature, Biochemistry and Ethics - plus more!
How do they work? Well I’m currently taking part in the ‘Musculoskeletal Case Studies Course’ and this course is seven weeks long (but you can complete it quicker than this). I watch videos that have been curated by one of the lead professors, then answer multiple choice questions, fill out assignments and read the extra reading that they have made available. You can pay for a certificate (£78) but as long as you put the date of completion of course and what you learnt from the course in your application, employers and academics will love to see this - plus taking a course at Harvard sounds pretty fancy!
Secondly, reading around your subject. Now bear with me on this one; you may be thinking "Hold up, I’m taking Maths - how am I meant to read around this without being bored out my brains?" Well, typically universities and employers are not really interested in whether you’ve done pre reading for the course you are about to take, but rather that you’ve taken an interest around your subject. Personally, I study Sport and Exercise Science, but am fascinated by neuroscience. So, this summer, I have been reading “Life Lessons By a Brain Surgeon” and “Why We Sleep”. Now, I’m not applying for neuroscience placements, but I am applying for a research role which requires me to think outside the box, which reading beyond your subject can help you do! And for those mathsy people I aforementioned, have a look at the book “Money - A users Guide” by Laura Whateley. A friend of mine has read it and, as a mathematician, she says it's been really helpful not only academically, but also personally.
Thirdly, SkillShare and your own university's online courses. You may find that you want to take up something completely new to challenge yourself. For example, my University (University of Bath) runs a free coding class for women looking at getting into coding. This is not only helpful within jobs, but also for things like setting up a website or a business - getting a handle on these things early could rocket your own business!
And finally, if you are a Year 12 student, an Extended Project Qualification. In Year 13, I wrote an EPQ based on Exercise and Mental Health and in writing this, really found a passion for the subject. This can not only help you to see what you might want to study or work with in the future (or even help you work out what you don’t want to!) but it also gives you a head start on learning how to write good essays. This includes referencing, which I highly recommend doing before you get to university; although you will have help at the start in how to write an essay, you’ll find it much easier if you’ve already got one under your belt! (PS if you do well in an EPQ, many courses will lower their entry grades for you so it's worth considering!).
I hope these ideas have been helpful and I wish you all the best in writing your applications, I do feel your pain!