With the fall semester (hopefully) over, we know all you can think about doing for the next few weeks is lying on the couch with a pile of snacks and watching an abundance of Netflix. You need to recover from the whirlwind of final exams, limited sleep and general chaos that is college. But what if you decided to be more productive over winter break? Just think about how successful you’d feel if you decided to do one thing over break that you could later put on your resume. Here are a few of the best options for beefing up your resume over break!
The holiday season is a great time to lend a hand. Unlike an internship or job, volunteer positions are not very competitive and are flexible when it comes to time commitment. Tom Dezell, author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naive Job Seeker, says volunteerism looks excellent on a resume. It highlights your interests and shows that you’re willing to commit time without expecting money in return. “It allows for opportunities to gain experience,” Dezell says. “Employers value actual experience, paid or unpaid.”
Nursing homes and hospitals love having volunteers come in and talk to residents or patients to brighten their days. Check with your local hospital or nursing home to find ways to get involved. If you’re obsessed with going green, national and state parks are always looking for volunteers. There’s also the option to take trips with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for underprivileged families.
2. Take a temporary job
With holiday shopping in full swing, there are plenty of temporary job openings available at retail stores over winter break. Check out openings at your local mall or other shops and take a job working at your favorite store. You can learn a lot, and it’s always nice to make a little extra cash!
Megan Seamens, a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky, has worked at a variety of stores over winter break for the past few years. “Getting a job at this time is an awesome idea,” she says. “There’s plenty of work to do; you meet really cool people and become familiar with the basics of having a job.” It’s also a solid resume builder. Dezell says potential employers will be impressed that you tried to gain more experience in the job force. “Anything that can give you experience will make you more marketable upon graduating,” he says.
3. Find a winternship
Similar to a temporary job, a winternship is a prime use of your time over the winter break. A winternship is a short internship during December and January. Dezell suggests checking with your school’s career center and alumni offices for possibilities. “Keep in mind that many companies view internships as great ‘win-win’ scenarios,” he says. “Reach out to companies you would hope to work at…and offer your services as an intern,” Dezell says.
Check out online listings for winternships on sites like Intern Queen. You could also reach out to people in your personal network to see if anyone is looking for an extra hand. Dezell recommends looking up people who are working in places you hope to work at one day and reaching out directly to them. “Don’t be shy. Once you do this a couple of times you will learn that people truly enjoy and welcome opportunities to assist and mentor people entering their fields,” he says.
4. Create your own website
In today’s digital age, maintaining a professional online presence is a huge factor for your future. And during the job search, having your own website could really impress those tech-savvy employers. If you have a creative major, such as communications, photography, film, music or art, a website is a great way to display examples of your work. Randall McClure, an assistant professor of English at Miami University, says having a website is extremely beneficial for students. “Building their own professional website shows employers that the student is serious about employment and about how they are seen as a potential employee,” he said.
Creating your own personal website may sound daunting, but McClure says that your website doesn’t have to be super elaborate. “Information should include basic contact information, a professional photo, career goals, maybe some sample student projects, a resume and perhaps a personal touch or two,” he says. And a website doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag either. Websites such as Wix, WordPress and Blogger offer free accounts and provide step-by-step guides to starting your very own website.
5. Learn a new skill
With plenty of downtime, why not learn something new this winter break? Whether it’s Photoshop or coding, try playing around with a new application and become familiar with it. You don’t need a classroom and textbook to educate yourself! If you want to learn how to code, check out Codecademy. You could also learn to enhance the way you use social media. Try out Hootsuite, a site that allows you to manage your different social media accounts. No matter how far you go into your coursework, there’s always room to add something completely new to your bag of tricks.
All in all, there’s no better time to check something off of your resume to-do list than this winter break. If you think about it, you have a whole month or longer to relax, watch TV and spend time with family and friends. That also leaves plenty of spare time to do something you’d never have time to do during the busy semester. So take advantage of these options—you might just get a job because of it!