Free stock photo of camera, notebook, notes, travel Whether you’ve finished school or come to the end of another academic year at university – a long summer break awaits. But what are you going to do now? Right now you’re on top of the world with it all ahead of you. Not making productive use of this time will cause all the elation and joy to quickly descend into feelings of utter boredom, or even despair. Don’t let this happen to you. Eight weeks is a long time, make the most of it. Here are six ways to make the most of your summer break. Rest and relaxation Who says a bit of chilling doesn’t have its own value? Resting the mind, body and soul is absolutely essential after a year’s hard academic graft. If you’ve just finished school, be warned the workload at uni will intensify – make sure you’ve recharged by the time you head back to university. And those currently at uni take heed, uni life can be intense with all that studying and partying. Ever heard the phrase “burning the candle at both ends”? Go camping. Check out where to buy gas stoves and get one if you don’t already have one. Get your tent and any other necessary essentials. Read a book, paint, watch TV, go for a stroll, whatever it is that gets you chilled out – make time for it. Travel and holidays There are a lot of benefits of travel or going away on a holiday. You can de-stress, experience another culture, enjoy some vitamin D, autonomy and so much more – don’t feel guilty, it’s not all about indulgence. As a student, budgets can be tight but there are ways and means. Stay in hostels if you’re backpacking. You could even do some work to get free accommodation whilst you’re there. Enjoy a staycation – the affectionate term for holidaying domestically. There are some pretty stunning places in South Africa, especially for those in pursuit of the great outdoors. Get a part time job Whether on a part-time or full-time basis, consider getting yourself a job for the summer. A student loan will barely cover your accommodation cost, therefore you need a summer job. Spend most of the summer saving and you should be able to make ends meet. Aside from the obvious, the benefits are many. Budgeting is easier – when it’s your own hard earned money you’re more reluctant to part with it so you’ll learn this essential life skill early. Independence means more responsibility. Less time procrastinating. Also less time getting bored, which keeps you from spending money. Then, don’t underestimate the power of transferable skills – it’s a whole lot better than graduating with no work experience of any sort and future employers will be impressed with your motivation. Volunteer Whether overseas or on your doorstep, volunteering will give you all the skills and benefits of working over the summer with that added feel-good factor. It’s a really rewarding use of time and will make a very nice addition to your CV. It’ll catch any employer’s eye. There are a number of companies offering structured volunteer programmes. These usually come at a cost so if funds are short, get involved on your home turf. Go along to local charities, mission groups and the like, they’ll be glad for an extra pair of hands. A cheap option for spending time abroad is to apply for counsellor jobs at summer camps. It may not evoke the same emotions as those which come with acts of true selflessness, but it involves working with children. Work experiences and internships The graduate job market is a tough place to be these days. Get ahead of your peers and use this time to gain relevant industry work experience. First and foremost it’ll inform your future, letting you know whether you’re on the right path and what sort of job you’d like to end in. Also consider the fact that, when applying for jobs, you’re more likely to get your foot in the door. You’ll also have much more real-life experience to draw on in interviews. Truth be told you’re unlikely to get a paid position straight out of uni without at least some relevant work experience, so why not do it now? Study a bit All this extra time can mean it’s far too easy to get complacent. While a degree of rustiness is to be expected when going back to school next year, it’s important to keep your your eye on the ball. Take a look at next year’s modules and textbooks and have a read. By the time uni comes around again, you’ll be ahead of the pack and impressing your tutors and lecturers.