By Jo-Ann Raines, Director, Career Development Services, New Jersey Institute of Technology
After the stress of finishing projects and taking final exams, students look forward to the weeks of semester break and time to relax or travel. Before they leave for that much-anticipated time off, we can encourage them to be creative and use the break as a strategic interval in the career development process. Some alternatives they can consider:
- Review and revise the resume—Now that the fall semester has concluded, a review of accomplishments, new gpa, completed projects, major related courses, and extracurricular activities is in order.
- Update social media—LinkedIn is recognized as a valuable tool for networking and the job search. Students can create a profile or update the existing one. If students wish to include a photo, encourage them to use a shot that is professional in its setting.
- Short internships—Taking on a short term internship is a good way to add to overall work experience and can be another source of additional networking contacts. The internship can be full time or part time, depending on the agreement between student and employer.
- Finding a mentor—Having an experienced person as a guide in the career development process is a great advantage for emerging young professionals. The winter break can be an opportunity to review a list of previous contacts from school, community activities, and previous work experiences to identify a prospective mentor.
- Information interviewing—After the holiday festivities have died down, students can reach out to a couple of network referrals who can shed some light on what they do and how they came to their careers.
- Civic engagement—The holiday season offers may occasions to give back to the community. Volunteering has the triple advantage of providing assistance to those in need, adding another dimension to the resume, and supplying another means to build the professional network.
- Social situations—This is a season for parties, dinners, meeting up with friends and family, and making new acquaintances. When appropriate, sharing short and long term career aspirations can lead to helpful information for future reference.
Students can advance their career development process while classes are not in session and they have more control over their time. These suggestions are a few that can get them thinking and provide a boost to their career plans.
Jo-Ann Raines is the Director of Student and Alumni Career Development at New Jersey Institute of Technology.