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Make the most of your winter break time

Published: December 2, 2012, 7:01 pm ET
UR Career Services career advisor

With the end of classes and final exams looming, everyone dreams of winter break. While most students are looking forward to sleeping in and catching up on TV shows missed throughout the semester, winter break also provides an opportunity to think and plan for the next step: jobs, internships, graduate school. Here are some tips for getting ahead and making the most of this winter break!

First, reflect on your past experiences and set goals and/or criteria for the upcoming summer. Are there skills that you’re looking to gain or strengthen through an internship? What types of jobs would you like to pursue and do you have a specific geographic location you’re looking in? Setting some parameters before you begin to search will ease the process and provide you with a mission.

When you know what you’re looking, take the next step and develop a strategy and timeline. Just as if you have a big project or paper to tackle for class, break it up into smaller steps and processes to make it manageable and create structure. First you’ll want to make sure you have an updated resume and resources for writing cover letters, which can be found on the Career Services website.

As you start looking for opportunities, don’t forget to reach out and connect with people in your network. This could include family, friends, faculty, alumni, colleagues, etc. Let people know what you’re looking for and see if you can gain any leads on positions. Next you’ll want to check SpiderConnect often for opportunity postings in addition to the NACElink, Career 15, and UCAN databases that can be found under the SpiderConnect “opportunities” tab.

If you’ve already started searching and applying for positions, use this time to follow up with those organizations. Spend time doing research on the companies you’ve applied for and reading about general news and information about the industries you’re interested in.

Most of these steps remain relevant for the graduate school process. If you haven’t yet selected programs, start with setting criteria for what you would like to study and would look for in a program. Note that some programs are more research based while others may put more emphasis on practical experience. After doing your research and identifying some programs of interest, look up everything that is needed to apply. Then just as with a job it’s time to strategize and create a checklist of what to prepare in order to apply. Don’t forget that Career Services can also assist you with developing/creating your personal statement, reviewing your resume/CV and gathering application materials.

Finally, these precious few weeks of free time are ideal for interview preparation. Whether you have one lined up or not practice your answer for the infamous “Tell me about yourself” question, and other general behavioral questions.

As you go through some of these steps also take time to sit down and sift through the information available on the Career Services website and read the Spider Way blog entries. Once you’ve done some of this research and prep work, schedule an appointment with a career advisor for early January to review you search strategy, ask questions and get more advice.

For more information, contact Career Services at 804-289-8547.

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