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Winternships: Everything You Need to Know

Bundled in a chic jacket and a killer pair of heels as she hails a cab, you see her. Eyes wide and strutting with a purpose, she looks like she’s on her way to one of the most important appointments of her career. In reality, she’s a whippersnapper just like you, running an errand for her supervisor. She’s one of many college students who choose to spend their winter break exploring internship opportunities rather than lounge at home watching Scandal marathons (though that does sound enticing). What kinds of opportunities exist for a wintern in the making? Read on for the deets:
 
WINTERNSHIPS 101

Serena is the most stylish intern around.

Full-Time
As opposed to interning for a company during the summer or a full semester, some students will take on an internship during their winter break to give themselves that extra edge. Many will crash with friends or family in major cities like New York or Los Angeles just to make some additional contacts and learn valuable skills. Many will work full days a week in order to fully maximize their experience. “I chose to do a winternship not only because it’s my last chance to intern before I graduate, but I had a really wonderful experience during the summer at the same company,” says Kayla*, a Her Campus staffer and student in Connecticut. “Sure, I thought about staying at home, but I’d much rather be learning new skills, making more contacts, and gaining more experience in the industry where I hope to one day have a career.”

Shadowing
Another opportunity? Shadowing. If the company of your interest doesn’t offer winternships, reach out to an employee and request to shadow someone for a few days. “This is especially helpful when you are trying to clarify your career direction,” Director of Career Services at Hofstra University Suzanne Dagger said. Dagger is currently working with a student who is deciding between a pre-law or psychology path. “Over winter break, he has arranged with someone in his community who is a lawyer to shadow for three days.  This will help this student see some of the reality of this work and not just what he knows from television,” she said. If you reach out and request to shadow, this could in turn evolve into a winternship or a potential position in the future.

Benefits

That Extra Edge
Like any internship, diving into the industry of your choice is an exciting and informative experience. “Winternships allow students who are on winter break the opportunity to spend a solid six to eight weeks interning for a given company,” says Caroline Orlando, CEO of fashion company Lady Vanderbilt, who has had several interns in the past. As a student, gaining an exclusive look into how your field operates and what kinds of positions exist for an upcoming college grad is a beneficial experience. “Winternships are great options for students looking to engage in public relations, social media and marketing, as they can be exposed to the industry within its entirety after just a few weeks,” Orlando says. This will certainly give you a leg up on the competition and an excellent addition to your resume.

One HCer named Judy* created her own opportunity at a well-known publication by being persistent with her potential internship supervisor. She dedicated herself to her winternship everyday over winter break and it eventually turned into a full-time job! Interning during the colder months certainly has its advantages.

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Disadvantages


Whiskers here is so relieved he doesn’t have to battle the cold like some winterns have to.

Limited Time to Make an Impression
At the same time, most internships are offered through fall, spring or summer—and for good reason. Several months are ample time to prove your potential job candidacy to your supervisor and fully immerse yourself in the field of your choice.“[Winternships] don’t allow the requisite time for a student to thoroughly grasp how a specific industry functions as a whole,” Orlando says. “An industry like fashion, for example, rapidly evolves. A four or six month internship would expose the student to much more of the ‘fashion world,’” she says.
 
Fewer Opportunities
Dagger points out that winternship positions are possible, but not as readily available as fall, spring and summer opportunities. “There may be some industries like film or television where this ‘short-term’ work would be more accessible,” she says. “Yet, this doesn’t necessarily qualify as an internship as you would not be under someone’s guidance and tutelage, as much as you might be running errands and assisting with tasks on the set.”
 
Break? What break?
After a busy semester full of group projects, term papers, and other in-depth assignments, isn’t a several week-long break exactly what we need? You may want to spend some time catching up on your favorite hobbies, and committing to a winternship may interrupt this detox sesh.

Tips

Whatever your circumstance, weigh your options and make the decision that is best for you. If a winternship is right for you, make the most out of your brief experience. If you are able to make a positive impact on your supervisors and surrounding employees in a short period of time, they may just ask you back in a future semester…or as a full-time job. You are there to gain knowledge about your industry, so make sure you are asking questions and constantly learning.
 
If the winter opportunity of your dreams isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Take initiative and contact your employer directly and if it works out, commit yourself to the new position.

Have you ever interned at a company over winter break? Share your experiences below!

Gennifer is the Branded Content Specialist for Her Campus Media. In her role, she manages all sponsored content across platforms including editorial, social, and newsletters. As one of HC's first-ever writers, she previously wrote about career, college life, and more as a national writer during her time at Hofstra University. She also helped launch the How She Got There section, where she interviewed inspiring women in various industries. She lives in New York City.
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