Winter break is upon us! While many college students are focusing solely on R&R with family and friends, others are using this time strategically to boost their job or internship search. While this may not sound like the most exciting way to spend your winter break, there are a few simple things you can do in order to set yourself up for success going into spring semester:
Use winter break as a time to build new connections and reconnect with current/old ones. As we are entering the holiday season, take advantage of family gatherings. Although they may know you are seeking an internship, they may not know exactly what you are looking for. Make sure to share this information, as it may generate a new networking lead.
Continue your networking efforts on and offline. Now that you have a few weeks off, explore your alumni database, mine LinkedIn, volunteer, and/or attend a networking event.
Take a break from the television and jump online to do some company research. There are many great resources online that can help you explore different industries and/or career paths. A few of my favorite sites include Vault, WetFeet, Hoovers, and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Use your time off to set-up some informational interviews. For those professionals not on vacation this time of year, this is usually a slow time in the office. As such, you have a good chance to get on their schedule in order to learn more about your potential career path/industry of choice.
Conduct market research on Brand YOU. What pops up when you do a Google search of your name and image? Are you happy with the results? Would recruiters and/or potential employers be happy with the results? Use winter break as an opportunity to revisit your brand (and reposition/retool it as needed).
Many colleges and universities will have career fairs on campus as early as January. Check you college career center’s website for information regarding dates, companies coming to campus, etc. Knowing who your target companies are coming to campus will help focus your company research.
Practice & Improve
Just because you are on winter break doesn’t mean your college career office is. If your career center is open, set-up an appointment to meet with a career advisor for a resume review, cover letter review, or mock interview. Making sure your marketing tools are ready to go and your interviewing skills are in tip-top shape heading into spring recruiting will put you a step ahead of the rest.
Not all internships and jobs are found through on-campus recruiting. As such, use this time to mine through your college career office’s job board and apply for positions you are interested in. Viewing company’s HR postings is also a good place to do some exploration. While I am not a huge fan of job boards, I do like indeed.com. This job site pulls information on available positions from multiple sources across the web based on keywords and location.
Do I want you to enjoy your break and recharge for the rest of the academic year? Yes; however I ask you to consider blocking off some time to focus on your job or internship search. Putting the time in over winter break will set you up for success in your search while making your spring semester less stressful (which is what we all really want, right)? Happy Holidays!
Heather serves as a Career Advisor for Loyola University Chicago’s Career Development Center. In her role, she assists students and alumni with their overall career development through individual counseling, group workshops, and in the classroom via her Career and Life Planning Lab. Heather’s areas of expertise within the career space include networking, social media engagement, ePortfolios, resumes, and personal branding. Prior to working in Career Services, Heather worked for Sony Music in the areas of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion.She received her BA in Communication & Culture from Indiana University and her MA in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University – GO BUCKS! You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.