How the bright young things are using summer to build a better CV

With exams wrapping up and the start of summer in sight, the temptation for many young people is to sit back before the start of a new adventure. For more savvy students, the holiday season provides the perfect start to a brighter future.

The New Entrepreneurs Foundation views around 1,000 applications every year from young, post higher education individuals looking to take part in an enterprise programme that provides mentoring, coaching and training. With only 30 places available, NEF applicants need to demonstrate the qualities of a future entrepreneurial leader and a strong CV is key to their success. For Zara Pearson, recruitment and placement consultant at NEF, there are a number of ways to enhance a CV over summer and stand out from the crowd when it really matters.

Here Zara offers her top tips:

1) Get a job. Apply to a local establishment, such as a coffee shop, for work. In addition to earning extra cash, this will also improve some key business skills such as customer service and money handling.

2) Volunteering. Working with like-minded people for a good cause is not only rewarding and confidence-building but the experience will also provide a better understanding about the local community. Using your spare time to help make a difference will also give your CV the edge.

3) Go for a coffee. Get in touch with people that inspire you and arrange a meeting. A brief informal chat will offer a useful insight into what they do and how they work. Listen to advice and take tips. Often proving motivational and inspirational, hearing their stories will help you consider your own career path. Meeting more people will present more opportunities to network and a greater understanding about what you want and don’t want from your own career.

4) Join a learning programme. For budding entrepreneurs, free experiential programmes such as Citrus Saturday, developed by UCL, helps build key business skills. From developing a brand to creating a marketing campaign and pitching a product, it will enhance and boost enterprise skills you may never know you had!

5) Go online and take a course. There are a number of free online courses. Simply select a course that fits your interest and gain a qualification over the holidays.

6) Work experience and internships. If you approach this with the same professionalism as a paid position, it will provide a useful opportunity to learn about different aspects of a business, gain knowledge, learn new skills, be part of a team, network and secure a glowing reference for your CV.

7) Show your creative side. Use your time to read, explore and learn. Visit new places, embrace new books, build your online profile and start writing that blog.

8) Learn a new skill. Learning a new sport, language or instrument will demonstrate a positive, pro-active and self-motivated attitude that will look impressive on any CV.

9) Attend local meet-ups, conferences and events. These provide useful opportunities to meet a broad range of people, gain new knowledge and network. If you can’t find a local meetup, use the opportunity to start one.

10) Keep a routine. After exams, try not to give in to lie-ins and lazy days. You will feel much more energised and motivated if you keep a routine and stay active.

11) Enjoy your free time. Building your experience is important but using the post-exam period to catch up with family and friends is key to staying happy and well-rounded. This will take you far in an interview.

To find out more about New Entrepreneurs Foundation, visit

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