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All work and no play make Jack a very dull boy. Gutted. I feel for you Jack, I really do. If that irritating motto rings true in society, me and Jack could have a dull wedding on a dull day in dull land. That sing-song saying epitomises the dilemma of people of all ages, as we go through life surrounded by saturated clichés and constant reminders of how life should be. Forget about work, you only live once. Go out, dance, and live for the moment. The moment is rather hard to grasp however, if you have no foundation on which to base this epiphany, and a complete lack of money on which to fund it.
As you grow older, I suppose you must come to accept that a job is the only sensible way forward. Alternatively you could travel the world and spread your love of creativity whilst living in questionable hostels. For students however, the whole work or play situation is slightly more conflicting. Living on the cusp between the adult word and a complicated love affair with Sainsbury’s Basics, what should you be doing during summer? I would love to propose exciting yet balanced ideas, and become the Pippa Middleton of vacation planning. It is with great regret however, that I must let go of my dreams to posses such a spectacular bottom as old Pip does, and admit I have absolutely no idea as to what the best summer consists off.
Firstly, summer itself is a very clichéd concept. From the ideal summer loving, to spontaneous trips to the beach, I tend to think that the summer break must surely owe me something. I want photos of M&S picnics, maybe a beautiful shot of me sitting in a country orchard without the standard swarm of wasps and warm yogurt. The reality consists of sunburn, bad hair, and a last minute trip to some grotty apartments in Greece. With that dismal realization out the way, the work play concept becomes far more intense as you progress through university.
If you have just completed your first triumphant and smelly year, congratulations! But it might be worth getting a job to make up for the money which has somehow vanished. When I say vanished, I mean Dominoes and those damned campus laundrettes are holding every penny hostage. When you first return home, there’s always those first few glorious days where everyone is happy to see you and a fully stocked fridge brings tears to your eyes. Fast forward two weeks, and it’s a different story. Your new found freedom is suddenly squashed under house rules, such as no making toast at 2AM, and no more duvet forts. Get out, and earn some money. What you do with your spare time, is entirely up to you.
When I look back on my first summer, I wish I had worked more and moaned less. I attempted to find work experience, but pleading emails to the wrong people didn’t get me anywhere. Everyone differs as to their opinion of work experience, depending on their career choice. I believe that it’s worth it, but don’t go in all guns blazing. Summer is the perfect opportunity to gather contacts, research possible companies that may take you on, and perfect your CV. I spent a week at a paper, and hated it. But I still came away knowing what not to do next time, such as falling for the editor’s request to interview B&Q staff over their new tartan paint range. Enough said.
By second year, summer doesn’t quite have the same glow on it. Several of my friends will be jetting off for a year abroad, so three months of muddy festivals isn’t an option. I believe that this is really the time to be getting your next step sorted. By September, many companies open applications for graduate schemes and internships. Get on it, or lose out. Summer is an excellent opportunity to impress potential employers, even if you only spend a week shadowing someone in your chosen field. But doesn’t this all sound a bit dull? Isn’t there time for this later? Later is pretty deceiving, because it doesn’t hang around for long. In the latest Apprentice final, one candidate was only 23 years old. He may not have got the job, but he clearly had the right credentials to make it that far. Young people are big business, not least because we’re climbing the career ladder at an ever increasing pace.
Of course you should still make time to enjoy yourself, but you also need to have realistic expectations concerning your future. Employers are faced with thousands of applications, each form representing an enthusiastic young person desperate for the job. If you’ve spent your summer partying, your application will be the first in the bin. If you have absolutely no idea what you want to do, you still need to get a jog on. Get some career advice, or even dedicate a year upon graduating to decide how you want to earn the pennies. Do something proactive, it’s better to know what you don’t want to do through experience in the work place, rather than moping over your jobless predicament. There are always going to be some rubbish moments. Maybe you hate the job you thought you wanted, or are so skint you’d go for a job you’d hate. Either way, there is no formula to getting where you want to be. As long as you’re still washing your hair once a week, there’s hope.
There is always going to be a problem in finding the balance between work and play. My summer consists of two placements, and my job back home. In between making money and trying to stand out during work experience, I’ll hopefully find time to enjoy myself. But what does this even mean anymore? In considering the work play argument, I think I’ve hit on something deeper. I don’t want to look back on my life and wish I had done gone here and there, rather than plough through internships to get the job I desired. I always look forward, rather than focus on the now. In doing so, I am perhaps missing out on the opportunities that only youth can offer. My mum often comes out with know it all statements, and sadly she’s usually right. Both herself and my grandmother said they would love to be my age again, but have the experience that age brings. That sums it up really. Youth is such a hazy concept, and those of us who actually are young have no idea what to do with these golden years. We perhaps do not know what youth really is, until it’s gone. So whether you decide to work, play, or magically combine the two, do your best to have a damned good time.