Networking while on a holiday break may be the last thing you want to do with your precious time. When I was in college, all I wanted to do over a break was hang out with my friends, sleep in, and get my laundry done. I wasn’t thinking about my career and was far from answering the inevitable question, “What will I do after Graduation?” I really had no idea, and I didn’t want to deal with it then. Fortunately, my parents didn’t push the issue too much. I now recognize that there are a lot of built-in opportunities to network over the holidays. By network, I mean connecting with people who might be able to help you achieve your career goals. The opportunities could be conversations you have with your friends, their families and your own family.
When I was in college, a few times before a holiday break, I’d run into my university’s career center to look around for opportunites. I knew my parents were going to ask me if I had looked for an internship or job to help me figure out my career path. I wanted to be able to say yes. Unfortunatley, I never took the time to actually talk with a career counselor. I know I missed some great learning opportunities.
You might be in the same position. But, what if you did give a little more thought to your future and spent some time networking? It might just help you answer the big question of what to do after graduation. I encourage you to think about how you can apply your college major or personal interests to a potential career and then explore applicable job opportunities to test the waters. That could take the form of part-time jobs, internships, involvement in campus groups, volunteering, job shadowing or travel/study abroad.
“What are going to do when you graduate?”
When questions arise about your future plans, you can at least respond with, “I’m not exactly sure right now, but I have looked into internships with local non-profits. A lot of them help young kids improve their math skills. I’m good at math and enjoy working with kids, so it seems like a promising growth opportunity. What other avenues do you suggest I look into?”. You could also respond by saying, “I’ve been involved with a student group and plan our monthly events. I really enjoy the planning and organizing aspect of the position, and I’m really good at it. I’ve thought about marketing and event planning careers. What companies do you recommend I research?”.
The way you respond to others’ inquiries about your post-college plans enables people to help you rather than criticize you for not know what you want to do with your life. Although you may not have committed to a specific path yet, you are demonstrating that you’ve given it some thought and provided information about yourself that others can use to point you in the right direction.
By doing a little work to explore career possibilities and come up with a few good answers to the question, “What are you going to do when you graduate?”, you can have a fun holiday break and further your career search. In the process, you will have the opportunity to form stronger relationships with people, whether it be a potential employer or a family member.
Visit your campus career center today to get started with your exploration.
Markell Steele is a career counselor who helps frustrated job seekers find career direction. She works with clients in her private practice, Futures in Motion, Inc. and on-campus as Counseling Manager, Graduate Student Services at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In her role as career counselor, Markell guides her clients in discovering career options that integrate their interests, skills, and passions. She is also the author of Fast Track Your Career.