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Student Insights

7 things to do this summer

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 30 May 2023

group young people man women students glasses ICAEW summer

The summer months offer opportunities for personal and professional growth. Here’s how to make the most of the season - including carving out time for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

1 Plan ahead for exams

Getting your diary organised and creating a realistic study plan is one of the best ways to reduce exam stress. Make sure you’ve got your next tuition and exam dates booked in (check the dates and deadlines). Remember, Certificate Level exams are available to sit anytime, so a quieter period at work could be the perfect time to schedule them in. 

When it comes to revision, little and often is the best approach, so set aside an hour or two each day. Whether you prefer a spreadsheet or a physical planner, start by listing any commitments and social events, then plot out your revision timetable. If you want to be really organised, this can be down to the level of the practice question you plan to tackle each day. Make sure you schedule breaks, and leave some days free here and there to catch up if needed.

2 Develop yourself

Pursuing professional development doesn’t have to mean giving yourself a month to learn Python. There are plenty of ways to expand your skills and knowledge, many of them without leaving your desk. Start by checking out the calendar of in-person, virtual and on-demand events on offer from ICAEW. Make sure you’re signed up to any Faculties and Communities you might be interested in, all of which are free to join and have their own programmes of events, workshops and webinars.

If there are particular skills you’d like to develop, search more widely for online courses, books and podcasts. Volunteering also offers lots of opportunities for personal and professional growth, whether it’s as simple as supporting a more junior colleague at work, or signing up to inspire the next generation of chartered accountants.

3 Build your network

Networking offers all sorts of personal and professional benefits, from finding like-minded students to share your training journey with, to inspiring a whole new career path. Your local student society is a great place to start, offering a range of social, educational and professional events. Student societies also feed into the ICAEW Student Council, with an opportunity to get involved in the future direction of ICAEW and the profession. 

When you’re searching for networking opportunities or identifying potential contacts, think quality rather than quantity: is there a particular sector or industry you’re interested in? An inspirational speaker you admire? Or perhaps a colleague or friend you could ask for a recommendation? If the prospect of a room full of strangers makes you nervous, remember you can network online via the ICAEW Students LinkedIn and Facebook pages, as well as ICAEW Faculties and Communities

4 Nurture relationships

As well as finding and making new contacts, take the opportunity to keep up with those you already have. This could be a good time for scheduling official meetings such as an appraisal or six-monthly review, or arranging a more informal catch-up with a manager, mentor or tutor to talk about your progress or plans for the future. Check in with your fellow trainees, as well as colleagues and friends in the intake above or below – even a quick chat over a coffee can help build strong relationships and boost your wellbeing. 

Don’t forget to nurture relationships outside work, too – a support network of family and friends can make all the difference when navigating the challenges of ACA training, so make the most of having some time to re-engage and finally say yes to that lunch invitation.

5 Have a spring clean

There’s nothing like a good spring – or, in this case, summer – clean for clearing the mind and improving your focus and productivity. Start with your physical workspace, clearing clutter and organising paperwork. Creating a calm, organised environment and removing any unnecessary distractions (especially when you’re working from home) will help you to be more efficient and less stressed when things do get busy again. Then move on to your digital workspace, deleting any files and apps you no longer need, backing up important documents and performing any computer updates. 

Last but not least, tackle your email inbox: create an organised folder system by project or topic, and delete as many old messages as possible. Once your inbox is empty, try the ‘three Ds’ approach for dealing with new emails when they start flooding in – do, delete or delegate – to help keep it that way.

6 Press pause and take stock

Take some time to reflect on your achievements over the past six months. Check in with any goals you set yourself at the start of the year: do they still feel relevant? Are you on track to achieve them? What smaller milestones could you set yourself going forwards? Developing self-awareness with an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses is a valuable skill, and it’s important to recognise success and give yourself a pat on the back where it’s due. 

When you’re looking back over project work, don’t forget to make a note of any professional development examples for your online training file. You could also use the time for a system or process review, thinking about ways of improvement that could help both you and your employer. It’s great to indulge in a bit of blue-sky thinking, too – something we don’t often have the time or mental bandwidth for – so you could spend an hour or two just daydreaming.

7 Rest and recharge

Shift the work/life balance. Reclaim your lunch break: eating well in the middle of the day is not only essential for refuelling properly, but also reduces stress and improves productivity. Summer is the perfect time to get into better habits, depending on where you are in the world, with fresh air and a bit of sunshine offering a much-needed boost. Even better, get some exercise as well, whether it’s squeezing in a gym workout or just going for a walk around the block. 

Get into the habit of finishing work on time, too: make social plans in the evenings, or tackle some revision with a clearer head. If you don’t have a proper holiday planned, think about booking a day off here and there to spend some time doing something you love – or doing nothing at all. Recharging your batteries will help you feel re-energised, re-motivated and ready to take on the next challenge when you return to work.

The Student support team is available year-round to provide support and answer your questions.

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