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Feature: Be Productive Over the University Holidays

Here are some top tips from St Mary's University, Twickenham to make valuable use of your time over the Christmas holidays.

The Christmas holidays are almost here. After a jam-packed semester of assignments, students at St Mary’s University, Twickenham will take a couple of weeks’ deserved rest before the start of the New Year. However, with the graduate job market being fiercely competitive, the extra time over periods away from University can give students the chance to get head of the competition by being productive in working towards their career goals. Here are some top tips to make valuable use of your time: 1. Temporary work Whether it’s office admin or retail work, there’s likely to be a lot of extra shifts available for flexible workers (i.e. students) over the Christmas period as shops extend their opening hours. Taking on extra work will look great on your CV as it shows potential employers that you are someone who makes good use of their time, as well as being hardworking and productive. 2. Volunteering If you don’t want to commit to a job, why not consider volunteering? This is a great way to explore your interests, meet new people and enhance your CV whilst doing something great for your community. Not to mention, it’s also incredibly rewarding! Volunteering can take place across a broad range of industries covering a variety of different roles and doesn’t require a lot of free time. There are also plenty of one day or weekend fundraising events you could get involved in. 3. Study You’ve caught up with all your friends and family, had one too many of your favourite Quality Street, taken on a few shifts at the local supermarket, X Factor has finished and there’s still a week left until the next semester begins? Now is the perfect opportunity to dust off your course textbooks and do some reading. “But I don’t have any exams coming up in January!” Whether you have exams coming up or not, the extra studying will be extremely beneficial and give you a good foundation for the next Semester. When you’re standing on the platform collecting your degree at graduation, you’ll either be beaming from cheek to cheek with sheer pride and joy, or kicking yourself inside for not trying that little bit harder. Those ‘little bits’ are all those times you chose to go shopping with your friend instead of planning for your next assignment and can make the all-important difference between a 2:2 and a 2:1. 4. Downtime before a new semester While the Christmas Holidays should be a time of great productivity, of course it’s a great time to put your feet up, relax – with a few episodes of your new DVD box sets - and recharge before the new Semester begins. Allowing no time for yourself or friends and focussing solely on work is not as smart as it may sound, as your attention to detail will soon begin to wane which will impact the quality of your work. Plus, it wouldn’t be enjoyable, and when you start classes again you’ll feel much better having had plenty of time to relax. 5. Plan for the year ahead Ask yourself the following: What are my New Year’s resolutions? What do I want to achieve in my course in 2015? What didn’t work in 2014 that I could improve on in the upcoming year? If you’re more of a visual person, jot down all your goals and then come up with a few simple steps you can take to achieve them. It beats staring aimlessly out of the train window on your way back home and will make the journey go much quicker too! When all is said and done, the point is very simple, if you strike a good balance between hard work and downtime with your friends and family, you will be giving yourself the best chance for success in the New Year. No one is saying not to go out and enjoy the time off, but the keyword here is balance. Make it count!

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