How to make the most of… Reading Week

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Reading week is here-make the most of the time off by preparing for the future.

Reading Week is time away from classes, lectures and seminars. A week off to catch up on assignments, sleep and maybe even some actual reading. It's also the perfect opportunity to make some positive changes which will help you achieve the best possible results with your time left at university-including putting out feelers regarding your career.

Don't waste your week off. Here are some ways to make the most of it.

Break your routine

Much of reading week is about recuperation and getting your head back above water. While that is important, it's also a good time to try something new. Break your usual routine and go to a different café for your morning coffee, or a different sandwich shop for lunch-even small changes can have a noticeable impact on your perspective.

The bigger the change, the bigger the impact. Grab your trainers and go for a run, or learn to cook your Mum's veggie stew. Eating healthier and doing more exercise will help both physically and mentally with the pressures of finals and an uncertain future.

The week off also provides you with an opportunity to travel and see friends. We're not advocating ignoring your schoolwork for a holiday-rather, take the opportunity to approach your assignments in a new way. For example, many university libraries operate a shared user programme such as SCONUL where you can use the resources at university libraries across the country. A new environment and new resources can do wonders to help you refocus on your work.

For you students in your final year, tapping up far-flung friends for a visit is also a good way to access research centres and special collections relevant to your dissertations.

Think. Really think.

While it's tempting to just laze in front of the latest box set for the duration of Reading Week, it's worth the effort to turn your attention to the future. Even if you've already sent off a few job applications it's still important to put together a plan for what you want after graduation.

Do you know what you want to do for a career? Do you know where you want to work? Do you want to go travelling or continue studying? These are important questions you will have answer-soon.

One way to assess your options for the future is to reach out to people in an industry which interests you. Fire off some emails asking professionals about their career to see if it would suit you. Keep it polite and enthusiastic and you may be surprised how many people are willing to help. Check out company websites or platforms like LinkedIn for contact details.

If you are totally stuck for career ideas, make an appointment with your Careers Service or check out one of their events-you might be surprised how much you can learn.

Plan your summer

Now is the time to get your summer sorted. Whether you're planning a holiday with your mates or looking to get some work experience under your belt, start working out details now. Apply for internships, submit graduate scheme applications, send out speculative emails regarding potential work experience-whatever you intend to do, start looking now. Term will be over before you know it.

Even if you are not looking for an internship or work experience programme, why not think about other ways to get some experience under your belt such as volunteering with a charity? You may also want to consider the benefits of part-time work such as bar work or retail-after all, your spring student loan probably won't last all summer.

Reading week is an opportunity to assess where you're at and plan how to move forward. Getting a change of scenery and reviewing your options away from the usual term-time routine will benefit your university work as well as your career path.