As there is the first sense of summer in the air, we all feel the urge to pack our suitcases and long to leave for any place that is different from our everyday surroundings. However, beach vacations or months long backpacker travels are somewhat hard to include in our CV when it comes to applying for jobs. So how can you take off to a foreign place without leaving behind your ambitions?
When hiring managers look at your CV and ask about your international experience or that few months gap in your resumé, wouldn’t it be cool if you could just smile and say: “Well, as an active member of a student organisation, I participated in a summer university about non-formal education with fellow students from 20 different countries.”
Extracurricular activities that make you extra special
Extracurricular activities, and in particular, international experience do make a huge difference when it comes to selecting the right candidate from the pile of 100+ equally qualified applicants.
Sure, you have a university degree in the field, and you completed one or two relevant internships beforehand, but so do most of the other candidates for that position. Being able to demonstrate in a job interview that you have hands-on experience from an international environment – and make them believe that you are truly interesting as a person – you will have a better chance of making a good impression.
You don’t necessarily need to think big. Even short-term international activities, such as a volunteer project abroad, an intensive language course or a summer university can make it easier for you to stand out to an employer.
AEGEE Summer Universities – get busy all over Europe
If you feel like travelling in Europe, AEGEE is probably the best choice. Being an abbreviation for European Student’s Forum in French (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l'Europe), AEGEE is a student organisation that is present in almost 200 university cities in 40 countries all across the continent. According to its official mission, AEGEE is not a travel agency, but something much better. It is a community of students who voluntarily organise events all over Europe with the aim of breaking cultural barriers and stereotypes, promoting the mobility of young people and empowering them to take an active role in society.
These words may sound a bit serious if you hear them for the first time, but don’t worry: AEGEE is all about making friends and having fun. The organisation’s most successful initiative, the Summer University project, was born in 1988 and has been rocking it every summer since then. The summer universities are organised each year by the volunteers of the local antennas in each city, meaning that you can find summer universities from the Canary Islands to Istanbul, from Italy to Russia.
Accommodation-wise you shouldn’t expect anything too fancy: during these 1-3 week long adventures, you are likely to sleep in a hostel or on a gym floor in your sleeping bag. On the other hand, the whole programme wouldn’t cost you more than 200 euros, which is a pretty decent price for a life changing experience.
In a Summer University, you will be given the chance to get familiar with the language, the traditions and the cuisine of the given region from a local perspective, far from the touristy clichés. Each Summer University follows a concrete theme throughout its duration, so depending on where you apply, you can become an expert on Greek mythology, learn how to sail in the northern coasts of Spain, or improve your teamwork abilities by making hand-made pasta in Italy.
From a viewpoint of personal development, these multicultural experiences will help you fill those expressions in your resume like “team management” or “communication skills” with actual meaning. The application deadline for AEGEE Summer Universities is at the end of April each year, so you still have some time to apply for 2017.
Apply directly via the university
If you, despite AEGEE's wide range of different opportunities, are unable to find something that attracts you, or if you would prefer to spend your summer outside of Europe, you can always apply directly via the web page of the university in question. Through a simple Google search, you will be able to find summer school opportunities anywhere from the University of Iceland to Yale or Harvard.
SALTO-YOUTH – funded international projects all year round
For those who are into volunteering or youth work, the SALTO-YOUTH network can be another great source for some low-budget travelling. SALTO-YOUTH is a network that provides non-formal learning resources and organises training courses and other international activities for young people like you. Because SALTO is under the framework of the European Commission's Erasmus+ :Youth in Action programme, most of the trainings are 100% funded by the EU, including meals and accommodation. Even better than that, travel costs to and from the venue are also compensated, usually up to 70 percent.
They currently have more than 40 upcoming trainings on their website, and a great newsletter service to keep up with all the possibilities. By signing up, you’ll have first-hand access to all the actual openings, ranging from volunteer projects in Portugal to seminars on the refugee crisis in Germany.
AIESEC is another organisation that can be useful in helping you find the perfect volunteering or working experience for the summer.
How to include extracurriculars in your CV?
After coming back from an adventure abroad, your success as a job seeker substantially depends on how well you can sell your international experience and frame it in a way that makes the experience relevant to the employer. Last but not least, you should check out Graduateland’s 3-step guide on how to successfully integrate extracurricular activities in your CV.