It’s that time of year again, when students are studying for finals and all-nighters are filled with hot coffee, study groups and even goodies in the dining hall.
For the Center for Career and Professional Advising, it is a time when many of our conversations with Sophomores surround the most practical use of your time while on Winter Break. You’ll be leaving for home soon, and we want to make sure you are using your time wisely.
There is the obvious: sleep, eat healthy home-cooked foods, and visit with family and friends. Every one of these simple things will help you come back in January rejuvenated and ready to tackle Spring 2014.
Here at the CCPA, one of the healthiest things we can recommend is to spend the three or four weeks at home – without the distractions of campus life – thinking about next summer. The more organized you can become over winter break, the healthier your internship search will be – and these benefits will be seen as you manage all of your other academics and activities.
I know it may seem early, but in the world of the internship and summer job search, it’s exactly the right time to get started. Below are my top six recommendations for your Sophomore year Winter Break:
Check our samples for layout and structure, taking special note to the tone and use of action verbs. Since you have not officially selected a major yet, use “Anticipated Major: ________” until you declare.
2. Explore your options.
Before you even want to look for an internship, get some ideas about different careers out there. Narrowing down your search is an important part of the process.
The “I can do any internship in any location” approach sounds flexible and intriguing, but you may quickly find this type of internship-search is overwhelming. That’s not to say that you can’t keep your options open, but thinking about what type of industry you might like to explore gives you a place to start.
3. Get a Feel for what’s out there.
Not sure about what opportunities are actually available? Check out several databases to give you a sense of what to look for in an internship.
First visit CareerConnect, fill out your profile, and take a look at employers who are targeting Haverford interns through our recruiting program. Check out LACN, a database housing internships submitted to highly selective liberal arts colleges nationwide. Finally, visit our Virtual Career Resources, a page dedicated to a variety of paid subscriptions, many of which offer internship databases & listings of their own.
4. Talk to people.
Databases are a perfect place to start, but a good portion of internships are obtained by making personal connections – and rarely do these conversations start with, “Can I have an internship.”
It is very important to learn about different careers from family, friends and Haverford alumni. Conduct information interviews and get up to speed about trends in different fields, and advice from people who are immersed in these careers everyday. These conversations will often lead to a discussion of summer plans or how you can obtain experience, but let this happen naturally. It will only get to this place if you start the conversation correctly: by asking for information, not a job.
Join the CCPA group in LinkedIn, and check out our resource guide that includes just about everything you will need to help the networking process, including sample introduction emails. And if you live near DC or NYC, attend one of our alumni networking receptions.
5. Check out our Haverford College Funded Internships.
There are some funded opportunities sponsored by the college, and it is important that you start this process early. Many (not all) are self-designed, which means that you need to find the opportunity and apply with that internship/job in mind. This means research, connections, etc.
It is very important that you take these opportunities seriously. Internship committees can tell the difference from an essay that is thrown together the week it is due, and one that has been given the thoughtful time commitment it deserves. Submitting professional cover letters, resumes and well-written essays take time. Winter break is the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling.
6. Update your calendar.
There are so many on campus events and opportunities that can help you in your internship search. Whether it’s a career panel sponsored by the CCPA, the Not-For-Profit Career Fair, a time-management workshop from the OAR, or an alumni chat sponsored by a specific major – every one of these events will help in your journey.
Our office calendars are continuously updated, but many of these dates are already online. Spend a few minutes over break adding them to your own calendar.
For a comprehensive list of events and internship deadlines, visit the Haverford CCPA calendar on CareerConnect and view it by month.
This post was originally written for The Year After sophomore on the blog,
but is important information for all students about winter break!