The holiday break during the university’s academic year is typically viewed as a time to catch up on rest, visit with family and friends, and celebrate the holiday season without hours of classwork on the horizon and fast approaching deadlines. However, what many students don’t realize is that it can also provide several opportunities for career preparation and development. By completing just a few activities during this time away from class, you can place yourself in a more competitive position during future recruitment cycles and can improve your professional portfolio significantly in the process.
Correspondence & ResearchHave you already secured an internship for next summer?
If so, the holidays are a great time to contact your future employer and ask if there are any specific skills you should work to develop during this free time. If you’re still in the internship or job market, use the holiday break to research companies as well as required and preferred qualifications for roles that interest you. Keep a list of elements that seem to appear repeatedly.
This is also a great time to create alternative plans for your career trajectory so that you have options. Perhaps you have a primary plan that most excites you, but a few other paths interest you as well. You can use this spare time to map out possible strategies for pursuing these other options should you change your mind, and can contact your career advisor for additional insight.
The best action plans are thorough and well researched, and the Career Center is here to help you every step of the way.
PolishWithout schoolwork to complete, the holiday break is a great time to update your resume, build out a strong framework for future cover letters, and ensure that your LinkedIn profile is current and attractive. It’s also a great idea to revisit each of your social media accounts to ensure that your content is professional, thoughtful, and mature. If your loved ones are curious about your desires for holiday gifts, now would be a great time to build out your professional wardrobe as well. A few high-quality basics can really extend your closet, and the winter months are full of clothing store sales and end of year discounts. Take advantage of these deals if you can.
GrowIf you’re able to identify key skills that appear in many of your most desired job descriptions, perhaps you can work to develop one or more of these skills during the break. By utilizing platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, EdX, and Coursera, you can complete entire skill certificates from the comfort of your home. Interested in other great methods for intellectual development? Look no further than grabbing a good book. Reading develops our critical thinking abilities, our communication skills, and our capacity to imaginatively problem solve, regardless of the genre or subject matter. Any employer would be thrilled to have greater quantities of these on their team, so read away!
Another opportunity to develop professional skills is through part-time work. Whether this is seasonal, temporary, or only a few hours each week, employers tell us time and again that part-time work experience is one of the most attractive elements a candidate can have when applying to a job. This is because part-time work, no matter the industry, provides us with opportunities to work directly with customers, manage our time, perform in stressful situations, and pay attention to detail. These are all skills that employers want their hires to have, but are skills that full-time employers simply don’t have time to teach. By applying to their organization with these traits already honed, you’ll be one step ahead in the applicant pool.
Lastly, an excellent opportunity for growth is through volunteerism, and opportunities to give back abound during the holiday season. Communities typically have countless volunteer experiences available to those who are willing to participate, so be sure to review your regional newspaper, city website, local news stations, and social media feed for activities occurring in your area. Word of mouth is also a great way to get plugged in, so feel free to ask around for ways to be of service. Not only will you be assisting a greater need, but you’ll be developing skills and making connections that can also expand your professional portfolio, too.
Through intentional contact and research, polishing your professional documents and platforms, and committing to growth during your downtime, you’ll be investing in your future employment in both small and large ways during your time away from class. It may be just what you need to set yourself apart from other candidates in the future.
Texas A&M University Career Center
Written by Taylor Henderson, Associate Director at the Texas A&M Career Center