Finals are over and it’s time for some well deserved rest and relaxation. But should you simply veg out over winter break? There are many things you can do over winter break to give you a leg up on your future career. Here are the top 5 career focused activities for college students during winter break.
Complete an Externship
In an externship, a college student shadows a professional in their workplace, becoming totally immersed in that job. Externships are similar to internships, only shorter in duration. Most externships last a week. Externships are unpaid but may involve some work from the student. It is a great opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge that may help in a job search. Externships can also help college students begin to develop networking relationships and professional contacts in their chosen field. The full immersion allows students to begin to form their preferences in their career. An externship may also help students figure out what they don’t want. Most colleges have externship programs.
Mini Study Abroad
Some colleges offer mini study abroad programs, sometimes called field experiences, during winter break. These are great for college students considering studying abroad or working abroad after graduation. Think of this as an opportunity to try out a foreign country without a long term or large financial commitment.
Get Some Interviewing Practice
Just as you wouldn’t go onstage opening night without practicing, you should never start interviewing after graduation without practicing your interviewing skills. Prepare yourself for the rigors of interviewing by practicing your handshake, eye contact, dress and enthusiasm as well as your answers to possible interview questions. Winter break is also a great time to read up on interviewing. Make sure you get your hands on a list of common general interview questions and those specific to your chosen field. Then rehearse your answers to those questions. Enlist a family member or friend to help you role play interviews. Video tape yourself and watch your interview to see what you did well and what you still need to work on.
Get Your Resume in Order
Especially if you are a senior, winter break is the perfect time to put the finishing touches on your resume and cover letter. Also take the time to research and compile a list of potential employers or companies that you are interested in pursuing after graduation.
Find a Mentor
Want to get a leg up on the competition in the job market? Then use your winter break to develop a relationship with a mentor ion your chosen field. A mentor can do everything from help you practice interviewing, give you career advice and help you expand your professional network. A mentor is also an excellent source for a letter of recommendation.
There are many other career focused activities that college students should consider during winter break. How about volunteering at a hospital, homeless shelter or day care center? Many colleges offer winter break classes, especially those institutions that have extended breaks. Other ideas include conducting informational interviews of professionals in your field, catching up on the latest news in your industry and beginning to research and develop a plan to target those top jobs.
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