By Rosalie Black
It’s halfway through winter break and while enjoying the relaxing vacation can be fun, you know what’s even more fun? Preparing for that dream internship or job! Here are a few simple tips to help you develop and grow your career over winter break.
- Network: The most valuable thing you can take away from college (besides the obvious) is developing your own personal network. Networking can range anywhere from introducing yourself at the annual holiday party to emailing someone you admire about getting together to talk about the field you’re interested in. This is how you will get a job post-college and a simple message of interest can spark a long-lasting professional relationship with a potential mentor or even employer.
- Declutter Social Media: I’ll admit, we all love social media, especially us millennials. The problem is that future employers usually don’t want to see photos of yourself in a fraternity basement with red solo cups in your hands while wearing a cat costume on your Facebook. By cleaning up your social media presence online, you will be able to control how others view you. It’s important to keep a respectable brand for yourself because this is the first thing that future employees will check. Delete that old Twitter account “CuteGirl123” and create a new account with your professional name. Take precautions to keep yourself away from anything that relates to drugs, alcohol (if underage), and unnecessary crop top photos from freshman year.
- Research: A blog from US News on acing job fairs states “there’s no excuse for not knowing basic information such as core services and key players.” In order to reach your goals in a certain field, it’s important to do some basic research about the players in your field. In public relations, research is everything and can save a client or yourself from any potential problems in the future.
- Update Your Resume: When I was an incoming student, my resume was two-pages long and I had my middle school listed under the education section. After countless revisions, my resume is down to one page and my high school has joined my middle school and been deleted from my resume. Winter break is a great time to rethink what types of internships or jobs you’re looking for and figure out how to prioritize different parts of your work experience. Ask a friend to look at your resume and continue to make edits. A professor and blogger for The Huffington Post suggests “no matter what your part-time jobs or summer jobs are, always be thinking about how those experiences will enhance your resume and work skills.”
- Prepare: It’s important to have a general idea of who you are and what your message is. These questions are topics to think about for future interviews and once you have a solid list of answers, interviewing will be much easier. Here’s a list of “50 Standard Interview Questions.”
- Volunteer: Volunteering is the perfect way to help you learn more about yourself and others while connecting to your local community. By sacrificing your Netflix time and turning it into time to help others, this will improve your toolbox of soft skills. Anything from serving food at a soup kitchen to volunteering with your local donation center, this will be impressive to potential employers.
- Buy “Thank You” cards: If there’s ANYTHING to take away from this blog post, it’s this tip. Handwritten “Thank You” cards are such a simple and easy gesture for a future employer or colleague. It’s even better if you add a personal touch by mentioning something specific about this person and what you admired about them. Bonus: hand deliver the card in person.
- Set up a LinkedIn: Most people associate “social media” with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, etc. but the probability of finding an incredible internship or job through one of those sites is very low. LinkedIn is a social networking service that can help grow your professional network. It’s easy to set up and many employers will look to see if you have a LinkedIn account. I’m personally a big fan of LinkedIn and just like a resume, you must keep it updated.
- Take a “Self-Assessment” test: After taking a few of these tests, I began to understand myself more in depth. These tests won’t get you a job but they will tell you a lot about who you are. These tests can help you determine your skills and interests in both your personal and professional life. There are many tests online such as the Myers & Briggs test so try them out!
- Professional Headshot: It’s important to keep updated photos of yourself for both social media but also social networking. Consistency is key to devolving a strong online presence. The concept of having a professional headshot is a great way to showcase that you mean serious business about your career.