Sleeping in, mom’s cooking, seeing friends, your old room, and no homework are just of the few of the highlights of winter break. When you get back to school, hopefully you will be reenergized and ready to tackle new classes and move one step closer to getting that degree. Enjoy your time away, but use your winter break to find a great summer internship.
The least fun part of being home is dealing with annoying questions from family.
“What are you studying again?”
“What are you going to do with a degree in that?”
“Found a job yet?”
“Are you going to graduate school?
You may or may not have any answers. I don’t care if you have answers for them, I want you to have answers for YOU. If you are a senior, things are getting really real as you buckle down on your job, grad school or post grad internship search. Even if you aren’t up against the graduation clock, using this time wisely can have a big impact on your upcoming summer.
Taking the time to do these things below can help you gain confidence on what can happen over the next few months.
Resting and Refocus
Sleep, eat, be a little lazy, exercise, talk a few walks, read a fun book, wrestle with your younger siblings and hug your family. Sometimes just being home can be enough to get you back to balance and your focus right. Resting is required for your physical and mental well-being.
However, don’t spend your entire break in bed or binge watching Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Disney+ etc. Get your baby Yoda fix on for sure, but make sure you put in some work too. Binging student on break is ok, binging as a recent unemployed college grad because you didn’t put in work = not cute.
Work on Your Resume
If you don’t have a resume, it’s time to make one. Update your resume every semester with new internships, clubs or skills you’ve gained. A resume is a one-page summary of your experience, education, skills, leadership and volunteer activities. Learn the elements of what makes a good resume and how to write a cover letter. These two tools are vital to your internship or job search.
For help, start with the career services office on campus. Even if you are not on campus, check the career services website for basic information, resume templates and tips on where to begin (or you can download my free resume template). Most career services offices also offer resume reviews or critiques too. You can also check to see if they offer mock interviews. The more you prepare for an interview, the less nervous you will be.
I am a big fan of informational interviews. An informational interview is an interview you conduct with a professional in the career field you want to pursue. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about what it takes to succeed in an industry, challenges you could face, what the day-to-day life is like in that career and network.
Attempting to contact the CEO of a Fortune 500 company will probably not get you any results. This is where you start with your local network (parent’s jobs, neighbors, church members, fraternity or sorority members etc.) and then move onto using school resources to tap into the alumni network.
Through networking, you should be able to identify at least one opportunity to sit down or have a brief phone call with someone that can give you insight. Since you likely have no classes, you’ll have the time to find the right person and connect.
Create Your LinkedIn Profile
Use this time off to create your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is an online community for professionals of all levels to connect, network, share and learn. Many companies, large and small post jobs and internships through LinkedIn. They also use it to locate and connect with potential candidates.
Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your resume, however, it provides the opportunity to include additional information. You can write a professional summary, highlight skills, add recommendations, share a portfolio and publish content. The other great thing is that you can find and directly apply for jobs and internships through LinkedIn.
As a current student, you should not feel pressured to have a profile that fills in all the boxes to oversell who you are. Focus your energy on a solid summary and matching the sections of your resume to the online profile.
Get your resume ready, create your LinkedIn profile and start applying ASAP. Don’t miss an opportunity because you missed a deadline. Download my free Internship Manual Toolkit with a free resume template to keep yourself on track.
The most useful way to spend this time off is to actually start applying for internships. Many companies are right now gearing up to find the best interns for their spring and summer opportunities. Companies like ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Johnson & Johnson and so many others are already accepting applications for PAID summer internships (including post grad internships) across departments.
You can also start applying to graduate school if you are a senior. If you are not a senior and your internship efforts don’t work out, you can do in depth research on applying to graduate school. For some career choices, graduate school isn’t a needed right away or even at all. If you are thinking about a career in the medical or law professions, then it will be a given that more school is on the immediate horizon for you.
Standardized tests will also be on your plate. If you want an MBA, you are likely going to take the GMAT, liberal arts programs mostly require the GRE, medical school candidates will need to take the MCAT and law school hopefuls will take the LSAT.
Use this time without an internship to understand the admissions requirements for graduate school. Looking to become a physical therapist, know what the physical therapy degree admission requirements are well before hand. Think you want an MBA, learn the types of classes business schools look for. Goal to be a nurse, learn if an RN to BSN is the best option for you. Learning it now will allow you to carefully plan your fall and spring classes the following year.
Once you get back to school, your internship or graduate school search time might be more limited, so take advantage of your open schedule. If you are working a lot of hours at a part-time job over the break (like I used to do), you still have a little free time because you don’t have homework! Be smart, get a head of the game and this summer you will be glad that you did.