As a college student, you measure life in semesters. In a perfect scenario, eight semesters will lead you to the promised land of your dream career. In between those eight semesters you will have multiple winter and summer breaks. How you spend that time off could be the difference between finding your dream job, or moving back into your childhood bedroom after graduation.
It is December, the stress of finals is over and you are set to reclaim your sanity for a while. Bring on the 5-8 weeks with no classes and no clocks. Let’s be real though, after Christmas (or your family holiday) is over, most of the time you just kinda hang out around the house waiting to go back to school. After a week of binge watching Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones or whatever your particular viewing addiction, get up and make this break count.
Use this time to be proactive in your career planning. When your classmates get back to campus talking about how late they slept everyday, you can boast about the interview you have coming up for your summer internship. I’m an advocate for using your break to sleep late, hang with friends from home and eat as much homemade mac n’ cheese as possible, but find some balance and you will be better off later – especially when it comes to mac n’ cheese.
On my breaks I often worked as much as I could. Even if over break you plan to try and make as much money as possible, you should still do some proactive career planning. Here are 20 ways you can maximize your winter break. You don’t have to do all of these things, but pick a few that you feel you can accomplish.
- Volunteer with a non-profit
- Do an internship
- Job shadow at a few prospective careers
- Conduct informational interviews
- Look for a Spring internship
- Look a Summer internship
- Take a winter session course
- Take a class online (think computer skills)
- Write content for your blog – or start a blog
- Work on a business plan
- Read a few books (non-school related)
- Pick up extra hours at your part-time job
- Take on extra projects at your part-time job
- Work on your graphic design, music or writing portfolio
- Create or update your LinkedIn profile
- Create a resume and cover letter
- Take a road trip to research a city you are considering relocating to after graduation
- Plan your activities for next semester (what clubs to join etc.)
- Make a budget
- Research potential companies and careers
Before you decide which of these 20 things you might endeavor to do, reflect on your college experience thus far. What has this last year or semester taught you about yourself and what you want to do moving forward? Pick activities that will lead you closer to some potential clarity about your career choices. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and get uncomfortable. Now is the time to take chances and explore who you are and who you want become. Enjoy your time off!