Friday, 4 July 2014

How to use semester holidays to boost your career

You don’t need to veg out to relax. Doing something different can be just as effective. Why not use the time to help your future career?

Ever heard the expression “change is as good as a rest”? In short, it means learning new things can be a great distraction from the semester you’ve just been through, equating to a holiday. You can use this time to catch up on bad TV, or you can make a small investment towards your career or internship prospects.
1. Work experience
The formal intern rounds have closed, but you can still angle for short-term work experience. One or two weeks is plenty of time to make headway either at an organisation that might take you on as an intern in the future, or one that will look good on your résumé because of the skills and experience it affords. Start ringing around at least two weeks before you want to start.
2. Volunteering
Along similar lines is volunteering. If you don’t usually have time to spare during the semester, use the break to do an intensive volunteer stint. Some volunteer roles can give you what you need to secure an internship or an entry-level position, while others are just a good way to do something different to recharge your batteries. Any form of giving time is well regarded on a résumé.
3. Picking up complementary skills
If you have a few skill gaps that won’t be met through coursework, semester break is a good time to focus on bridging those gaps through external training or, because you now have the time, simply practising what you need to.
4. Looking for prospects
Time poor while studying? Semester break gives you the chance to do some career research. While you’re investigating the job market and taking a closer look at different organisations, pursue any promising prospects you come across. Being proactive during this period could pay off by summer break.
5. Refining your résumé
Having an up-to-date résumé on hand means when an unexpected opportunity comes your way, you’re ready to take it. Prepare yourself by spending time refining this crucial document in the semester break so when job-hunting season opens you’re first out of the blocks. Remember to compose your résumé in a way that will make it easy to update when you have more skills and experience to add, and don’t forget to get started on platforms such as LinkedIn.
Your mid-year break needn’t be idle time. There is plenty you can do to boost your career prospects while still catching some R&R from semester one, so make sure you use the time to prepare. When you’ve set yourself up, it makes for a less stressful second semester!
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