For college students, early January is prime time for getting things done. School isn’t back in session yet and unless you have a winter break job, you are probably finding yourself with some time on your hands. Whether you’re a freshman exploring internship options or a senior staring ahead at a scary job search, take advantage of these couple weeks.
I challenge you to do four things before returning to school for the spring semester:
1.) Update your resume. Maybe you’d like to add a recent internship experience or a big class project from the fall semester. Update your resume while the details are still fresh in your mind. In the event that you need to print a copy of your resume at a moment’s notice, it should always reflect your latest and greatest achievements.
2.) Set-up two informational interviews. Identify two people with jobs that you think are cool, then set-up a time when you can meet or chat on the phone with these individuals. An informational interview typically lasts only 30 minutes, but the insights you obtain from the conversation will be beneficial as you start thinking about career options or searching for employment. Before the interviews, prepare questions and topics of discussion that you are genuinely curious about.
3.) Read the New York Times every day. Once the semester starts, it’s easy to get consumed with college life and lose sight of the world beyond the campus bubble. (I know, I was guilty of this during college.) But it’s important to keep a pulse on what’s going on nationally and globally, so that you can be conversant with the working professionals you’ll be interacting with during your job search. Try reading the New York Times over the break – and then hopefully keep up the habit throughout the semester.
4.) Read a book related to your major/career. Not only will this enhance your ability to contribute to classroom and workplace discussions, it will give you a solid response when the question “What’s the last book you read?” comes up in interviews.
Updating your resume, arranging conversations, keeping up with current events, and reading a book are not particularly time-consuming activities. These small steps, however, will set you up for success with your career planning and the busy semester ahead.