You just can’t wait for the holiday season, right? College students know that the break away from school during the winter months is a well-deserved break from the tedium of syllabuses and exams. It’s the time of year when there are no deadlines and the only thing required is to lounge around your house and watch re-runs of all the shows you missed while you were slaving away during the semester. The first week off is usually spent trying to catch up with friends and family you probably haven’t seen since September. The next two or three weeks are filled with a longing for a return to business as usual or if you’re a senior – the urge to graduate.
So what can an under grad (or grad for that matter) do to make this break worthwhile? This year while catching up with the family why not also get yourself a one up on your resume? The holiday season offers many opportunities for volunteering and if you’re lucky short-term internships. Employers still like to see that a candidate has volunteer experience and that you have maximized as many opportunities as you can to show your readiness for the work force.
Why not call up your local soup kitchen? Soup kitchens offer a variety of things to do from cooking to handling finances. It would be wise to pick something as close to your chosen career as possible as you look for opportunities at home. Volunteering not only helps you score points with prospective employers but it also helps you score points on what I like to call your “feel good meter”. Helping out those in need is a valuable tool for lifting the soul.
Internships are a great way to gain some professional experience. Ah! The big E word — it’s the difference between landing that dream job and getting the “why don’t you try back when you have more experience” response. A good way to find an internship would be to make a list of all the companies you’re interested in and give them a call. Most companies have internships but not all advertise them – don’t be afraid to call. Another way you can go about it is by calling up the place where you interned last summer. Ask them if there are any items they need help with in the office. If you’re returning home, offer to help them out part-time for free. They will admire your persistence and may even provide you with contacts for your next opportunity.
If you need some extra cash, consider getting a seasonal retail job. You’re likely to work many odd hours but usually you’ll rake in more cash than you may from your work-study job. Pocket the money and have more gifts to give to your family (and yourself!) during the holidays.
Both internships and volunteering will provide you with an invaluable resource: people. While you’re out there putting in that extra work you will also be building a network. Knowing the right people makes it that much easier to get the career you want. When it’s time to go back to school you’ll be going back with more reasons as to what your potential dream job could be. But beware – if you chose to work during your holiday break make sure you only put in minimal hours. A break is a break for a reason and you don’t want to get burnt out before school starts. Avoid diminishing your energy to finish off the school year right by committing to part-time or seasonal opportunities.