When you think of spring break, you might think of beach vacations, nights out with your best friends, or a week full of rest and catching up on sleep. But, if you’re like me, you might feel like you never have enough time to achieve your goals and want to squeeze in as much development both personally and professionally as you can. If a spring break vacation isn’t in your near future, consider using your spring break to advance your career, or help you get a head start on your career path.
Here are 9 ways to use your spring break to advance your career:
1. Update your resume
Updating your resume might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the best ways to help you prepare for the career you want. Be sure to capture all of the relevant details worth mentioning, including but not limited to volunteer projects, clubs or committees, internships, and specialized skills. There are hundreds of thousands of free resume resources online available, or consider reaching out to see if your career services department offers resume workshops. Once you update your resume, set a recurring reminder every six months, for example, to update your resume again to ensure the information is always current.
2. Learn a new skill
Spring break is the perfect time to dive into the beginning stages of learning a new skill. Keep in mind that spring break is only one week long, so be realistic about how much you can commit to, and don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t a master of the skill by the end of the week. Here are a few great resources to help you get started:
- Udemy offers both paid and free courses on a wide variety of topics that can help you grow. Whether you want to level-up your Excel skills or learn the basics of web design, Udemy has over 130,000 online video courses to choose from with new additions each month.
- Coursera is another great online learning option where you can build skills with courses, certificates, and degrees. Over 200 universities and companies partner with Coursera to provide training opportunities to help you get ready for your career.
- Skillshare offers an extensive library of online classes for creative and curious learners, and you can take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. With thousands of free courses available, Skillshare is a perfect option for you if you’re on a small budget.
3. Look for shadowing opportunities
Shadowing opportunities are one of the best ways to get real, hands-on exposure. Use your network! If you know someone currently working in your dream field, pitch a potential shadow day. If you don’t know anyone you want to shadow, see if your career services office organizes any job-shadowing opportunities, or see if there’s a recent alumnus you can connect with to shadow or meet for coffee.
4. Attend a networking event
Networking events are an easy way to conduct informational interviews or have conversations with individuals working in your desired field. Consider creating a list of 3-5 questions to ask each person you talk to so you can start building a collection of responses and tips. When applicable, ask to connect on LinkedIn and keep in touch with your newfound connections to help you build a strong network that will support you in all future endeavors.
5. Take a week-long class to get ahead
Though it might seem daunting, consider taking a week-long class at your university or elsewhere to help you jump ahead. During my junior year of college, I took a week-long spring break class to take fewer classes the following semester and focus on my internship. Whether you take a week-long class for course credit to lighten your load next semester, or perhaps for Continuing Education Units (CEUs), your future self will thank you.
6. Update your LinkedIn profile (or create one)
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, sign up for one and spend your week learning how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, consider updating it much like you would your resume. Employers, and most importantly, recruiters, use LinkedIn to find potential candidates for opportunities. Be sure to keep your profile professional and relevant, but don’t be afraid to show your personality and set yourself apart from the crowd.
7. Apply for internships
While many degree programs require internships, not all programs do; however, applying for and working an internship can open a world full of opportunities for you. Walking through the application process and interviewing for internships will give you experience later down the road when applying for jobs. Internships are also beneficial because they offer a lay of the land and help you transition from school to working life.
8. Explore your desired job market–research roles, job descriptions, and potential employers
Do your research! Grab your laptop and head to a nearby coffee shop for a few hours to explore and research your desired job market. Familiarize yourself with requirements listed in job descriptions across a wide range of companies. You may also find it valuable to research employers within your field. Get a feel for companies that draw your attention and what type of company culture they have to get an idea of whether that may be an option for you. Keep an ongoing list of companies of interest, and if possible, start building connections at those companies (remember, build your network!)
9. Meet with a career services counselor or representative to talk through your plans
You don’t have to navigate your career pathing journey alone. Schedule an appointment with a representative from career services and talk through your plans and potential ideas. Reach out to a professor with experience or in-depth knowledge around the types of roles you’ll be applying to post-graduation to get their insight. Ask questions and seek guidance, especially if you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed.
Will you try to use spring break to advance your career? Which tips would you use! Let us know below!