Winter break is right around the corner for college students, and many see it as a month-long relaxation period. With all this time off though, why not use that time to your advantage?
Keep in mind, future employers may ask how you spent that time. So, if you're looking to not only better yourself, but have an impressive response that will set you apart, here are some tips:
1. Gain experience:
Experience is valuable to help develop professional skills and a network that can provide opportunities in the future. One easy way to do that is shadowing someone at work, whether that be a friend or a family member. With an increase in people working from home, it is a convenient way to get more knowledge on different career paths from the comfort of one's own home. Another resource is to partner with a professor. Conducting research for a professor is an easy way to gain experience as well as a possible mentor. Volunteering also provides great experience. Whether it has to do with a desired career path or not, volunteering not only makes you feel better, but enhances a resume. Volunteering also helps build connections with people that could be valuable for career development.
2. Expand your knowledge:
While it may seem easy to binge-watch a show during winter break, there are more productive ways to relax. Podcasts not only pass the time, but they are informative and easy to listen to. Reading books may not be at the top of the list after a semester of reading, but there are more benefits to reading other than just the information inside of them. According to Healthline’s article Benefits of Reading Books, reading books can reduce anxiety, improve brain connectivity and increase vocabulary.
Go beyond expanding just knowledge and focus developing skills by practicing public speaking. The more comfortable you are with speaking in front of others, the better. Knowing how to effectively communicate in front of people can set one apart in their career, as confidence in speaking is important.
Regardless of how you chose to be proactive with this time off, setting goals is great source of motivation. By transferring these accomplishments into an interview, it will show work ethic and dedication to professional development.
3. Market yourself:
Whether attempting to find an internship or a full-time job, being able to market yourself is crucial in landing an interview. One way to do that is by creating a website or portfolio. By having work displayed, it can showcase a variety of skills and professionalism. Writing things such as blogs, articles, or journals can not only improve writing skills, but it creates an archive of work as well. Being able to aggregate an internet presence with meaningful work rather than selfies will propel your professional career. Another step to help market yourself is to schedule informational interviews to get your name out there to companies by showing interest. An informational interview is a meeting to learn about the experience of someone who is working in a career field of interest. Alumni pages and LinkedIn are great resources to find and reach out to someone to talk with about their career.
4. Prepare for interviews:
Interviews can be intimidating and stressful but preparing for them can make the difference of getting offered the position. Before going into an interview, research the company. Showing that you took the time to learn about the company displays that the interview and company are important. Before an interview, understand the background of the company and the purpose it serves. Practice your elevator pitch by creating and memorizing an introduction of yourself, what you do, and what makes you unique or desirable in your field or position. The goal of a personal elevator pitch is to spark dialog and the interest of an intended audience such as a recruiter or interviewer. Family gatherings during the holidays are a perfect opportunity to practice an elevator pitch.
Preparing for behavioral interview questions is also a great way ease the stress of an interview. Being asked to talk about a time that you had to work with someone whose personality was different from yours or a time that you underwent change and how you got through it are a couple of examples of common behavioral questions to expect. For more examples, the Muse shares 30 behavioral questions to prepare for. The best way to answer these questions is by using the STAR method (situation, task, action, results). Writing out behavioral questions is a great way to memorize a precise response. Mock interviews are also helpful to become morecomfortable with selling yourself to land a desired job.
5. Research jobs and interviews:
Internship and job opportunities may not fall right into your lap, so conducting research to find interviews is important to locate a job. Look at college job boards, as well as CareerBuilder, Indeed, job postings on company websites, or even ask family or friends for any potential leads. College alumni are also great resources as they have been in the same shoes at one point or another.
Pitching yourself as a free resource for organizations can be more helpful to landing work at a company who is not specifically looking for an intern. By doing this, you can create your own sprint internship rather than following a structured internship program. This still provides experience as well as the opportunity to work for your desired company. Try looking for recruiters or top managers on LinkedIn to have a conversation about what work you can provide to the company.
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