In Summary

Utilise time. The holiday might seem long but university students can make the most of it in different ways, as Desire Mbabaali finds out.

The academic year is finally over and yes, it is a sigh of relief for many university students. However, have you considered doing something more constructive than wallowing in boredom and wandering in town doing close to nothing? Get hold of these tips.

Learn new skill
Doreen Namagembe, a second year student at Makerere University, is currently pursuing a short course in Chinese at the Uganda Language Institute. Although she has always loved learning languages, her interest in taking this particular course came at a time when she was looking for what to do during her second year holidays.

“My first-year long holiday was one of my worst times ever. I had grown so used to being at the hostel with friends. So when I returned home, I had to get used to staying in the house alone; watching movies, visiting friends in the neighbourhood, eating and my day would be done,” Namagembe says.

“It was a boring experience and I decided never to spend anymore long holiday at home. I had interest in learning Chinese and so I enrolled for Chinese classes and that is one skill I am adding on my resume.”

Learning a new skill during your holidays will leave you both enriched and engaged. Even hands-on skills such as baking, cooking, tailoring, painting, beading, making jewellery, among others, or soft skills of writing, public speaking, or learning a new language are worth trying out.

Get a job
You may consider finding a part time job that can earn you a little pay during the holidays. Rodgers Mulangira, a third year student at St Lawrence University, shares that during his holidays, he works with his uncle at a video library.
“He pays me Shs5,000 every day and with that money, I at least do not go broke during the holidays,” he says.

So, you could start from relatives who may be interested in employing you, restaurants who need waiters/ waitresses, and other organisations that might need part time students to employ.

In addition, you may decide to get self-employed. Rachael Namukwaya, a personal development coach, notes that one doesn’t necessarily have to have capital.
“Start with the talent you have. Become an entertainer, for example, if you have the talent. If you have the energy, do laundry at a price. Then if you have capital, start your own business, however small it may be. Vend clothes, shoes, makeup, plait people’s hair, clean people’s houses, collect their rubbish – all those are opportunities many youths shun,” Namukwaya says.

Apply for internships
The mentality many university students have is that they first wait for their designated time by the university to do internship and then they do it. However, you can do internship at any point during your studies.

“Whether in first year or any academic year, internship will open your eyes to the real professional world, which will help you see how ready and prepared you are for it and better still, how you can improve yourself,” Wilson Mukiibi, a lecturer at Ndejje University, advises.

He further notes that students who take these opportunities get ahead of their peers since internships expose them to some professional realities, not to mention they lay a good foundation for employment opportunities.

One may also decide to volunteer, which is also a good platform in giving students the experience that they need. For internship opportunities, go online or get a copy of Daily Monitor every Friday, in our Jobs and Career pages.

Take an online course
Mukiibi further notes that since the point is to encourage students to engage in gainful activities this long holiday, why not take an online course of your interest?
“Many youth and students spend most of their time on the Internet. Unfortunately, not many maximally utilise the opportunities available on the Internet. There are lots of free online courses that can help boost knowledge and skills for students. These also help build one’s CV,” he says.

There are a number of courses according to what one may be interested in – many of which are free. So, enrol for one.

Self-teach
It is an information era where people can and are able to learn a number of things through self-teaching – especially on the Internet.

Mahad Busulwa, a student at Makerere University, explains that, “Many of the video editing software programmes I know, I self-taught using the Internet. I took interest in video editing because I like it, so I started teaching myself. I am now better than I was,” Busulwa says.

One can, for example, self-teach an activity that interests them such as playing a musical instrument, using a camera, doing makeup, coding, using different software programmes, among others.
The trick is easy. Just be sure to engage in some constructive activity so that you are a better person at the end of the day.