1. Visit a graduate or professional school.
Whether you are just starting to think about grad school or if you are actually working on applications, in-person visits are always informative. Read more about the value of these visits here.
2. Set up an informational interview with a working professional.
Find out what a profession is really like and make connections with people in your future field by conducting an interview unrelated to a job search. Sample question: "What are the most important qualities for an aspiring pilot/engineer/dance therapist?"
3. Surf the websites of professional organizations in fields of interest.
Academic and professional associations have a wealth of information and intelligence on their websites. Examples: American Psychological Association, American Bar Association, American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
4. Do some volunteer work or "shadowing" to get yourself into a work setting.
Use your social skills to arrange an opportunity to "shadow" your dentist, a pharmacist, or an accountant. This is an excellent way to find out if this career should stay on your short list.
5. Update and upgrade your resume.
Opportunities sometimes come up quickly and you want to be ready with that polished resume. Every college student needs a polished resume! If you need more convincing, read this.
6. Research and apply for summer internships.
Summer internships can provide both $ and valuable experience. The more competitive internships have deadlines in fall, but some are still open in January-March. If you have already missed a deadline, get all the information so you can apply early next year. Some internships are open to recent college graduates.
7. Read a book by colorful career counselor Donald Asher, such as:
- How to Get any Job with Any Major
- Graduate School Admission Essays
- The Overnight Resume: The Fastest Way to Your Next Job!
- Cracking the Hidden Job Market
Click here to watch a short, fun video of Donald Asher telling the story of a job searcher in a pink bathrobe.
8. Enter an essay contest, photo contest, or write something creative for UMBC's literary magazine, Bartleby.
Get your creative and competitive juices flowing. These activities are good for your soul and your resume.
9. Plan an independent research or creative project and prepare an application for the Undergraduate Research Award (URA).
The URA provides up to $1500 to support research expenses such as equipment, travel, and materials. Applications are due no later than Thursday, February 27, 2014. Here is a link to the full details.
10. Design (or update) your blueprint for a UMBC bachelors degree.
Whether you are a freshman or a senior, you need a plan. Read more about this here. Winter break is an excellent time to create, revise, or update your plan.
11. Research, plan, or carry out a study abroad experience.
Whether you are off to China for three weeks during January or planning for a full academic year in New Zealand, studying abroad will enrich your life. Don't wait any longer to investigate this option at UMBC. Click here to learn more.
12. Network, network, network!
Those folks you meet during winter break--fellow students, relatives, friends of parents, friends of siblings, etc.--are gold mines of information and leads about internships, shadowing, the desirability of various occupations, grad schools, etc. Talk to anyone and everyone about your goals! And if you have doubts about the value of networking, go back up to item #7 above and watch the "pink bathrobe" video!
Get the idea? Resolve to get a jump start on 2014 during winter break.There are plenty of interesting and fruitful things to do, see, and learn about to lay the groundwork for a successful future.
EXTRA CREDIT DISCUSSION QUESTION
What are you planning for the Winter Break? Taking a course? Traveling? Working? Share your plans in the comments section below!