5 Things To Do After Matric

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With endless weeks filled with lazy days looming following weeks of demanding exams, this year’s matrics should consider giving themselves the gift of a lifetime – by using their downtime in a way that will put them ahead of their peers even before they start with their tertiary studies.

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Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, shares her top five ideas for productively filling the many summer hours ahead.

LEARN TO TYPE

This may sound very strange in the modern age, but many young people type with only a few fingers and are not in fact proficient. Once you’re studying or working, most of what you communicate in writing will come off a keyboard. Learning to touch type will add immeasurably to efficiency. There are free downloadable programmes that are game-based and you can compete against yourself or others.

CLEAN UP YOUR ONLINE PROFILE

The surge in social media usage in all walks of life means that recruiters and potential employers are able to find a lot more information about you, before you even walk through the door of an interview room. Make sure that what they find in a year or two when they start looking, presents you in the best possible light. Fix your privacy settings and look for photographs in which you have been tagged. Actively create an online presence that positions you as more than a wild child.

If you are really dedicated, you could even set up a blog – an increasingly popular form of personal expression that can really help set you apart from future competition, by giving personality to your application. Easy to set up and free, this is your chance to get your name out there. Be careful though – this is only for the really committed, as you need something meaningful to say. And at all times remember that you are creating impressions… Make them count!

LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE

Let’s face it – far too many South Africans are still not proficient in our own languages. If you cannot speak more than your own mother tongue and perhaps one other local language, now is the time to tackle this. Language proficiency (particularly in the professions) is no longer only a ‘nice to have’. If you are already proficient in three or more SA languages it could be time to begin to tackle the basics of an international business language – like French or Mandarin or Portuguese.

TAKE ON A LIFESTYLE SPORT

At school you would probably have been required to play a sport – normally a team sport. Very few of us maintain that after school and certainly even fewer after tertiary study. This holiday is the time to start participating in a sport or other physical activity that you can carry with you in to the world of work – gym, running, cycling or yoga are only some possibilities. It is well known that your future health and happiness is tied to your level of physical wellbeing, so the sooner you start the habit of participating in an activity you can do as an adult alongside your work, the better.

VOLUNTEERING OR RAISING FUNDS FOR A WORTHWHILE CAUSE

Register your name on a charity’s website and become a volunteer or fundraiser, or approach a local religious or community organisation directly. Making a difference to the lives of others is immensely satisfying, and will help you stay grounded and focused as you enter adulthood. It will also demonstrate to future employers that your world is about more than just yourself, and that you have applied your talents for the greater good. And it gives you an environment to practise work appropriate skills like planning and communication and teamwork.

“At the end of the holidays, you will enter your new life with an added sense of purpose rather than just wondering where the time went. This is a great gift to yourself,” concludes Coughlan.