By Devlin Brush
During the semester it can be hard to find time to think about your career path. Once you’re done with class, it’s time for student org meetings, homework, work, and exercise. And once you’re done with all that… Well, often it’s time for bed. When things slow down for Thanksgiving Break, it can be nice to take the time to relax and unwind before hitting the books again hard for final exam season. However, it can also be an invaluable time to start the cogs turning in your career process while your other obligations are on hold for the weekend. From networking to improving your “look”, here’s a few ways that you can get ahead this Thanksgiving break:
Build your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
Keeping your job history current is important to any opportunity.
If there’s one thing you absolutely must do while you have some downtime over break, this is it. LinkedIn is an increasingly important tool in the job market, and the more you keep your profile up-to-date, the more useful it is to you and those viewing your profile. Finding the best opportunities for summer often means starting early, and updating your job history is a fast and easy way to get a head start so you’re ready when an opportunity presents itself. While you’re on the couch digesting mom’s stuffing, check out tips on our website from our advisors on how to optimize your resume, and read LinkedIn’s own resources for students for the best ways to utilize an important networking tool.
Be thankful for your network, and use it
While at home, connect with people in your desired field.
While networking may never take precedent over endless servings of pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving break is a great time to take advantage of the connections you already have. If you’re returning to your hometown, there’s a good chance you have a bigger network there than you realize, making networking fairly easy. Every friend, family member, friend’s family member, teacher, or neighbor you know could possibly have a connection that could help further your career path. If you know anyone in a job or field that you’re interested in, reach out to them and set up a time that you can meet for an informational interview to learn about their work. Even Thanksgiving dinner could be a networking tool if you have a family member doing work you’re interested in! People love to talk about their career, and the relaxed mood of a long weekend break can be the perfect time to get real information about a career you might be interested in. If you don’t feel like leaving your house, that works too: You can try networking with Twitter, or using your (newly updated) LinkedIn account.
Feast on Black Friday sales
Pick up workwear that you can’t always afford.
As much as the idea of Black Friday is a little ridiculous, it’s hard not to admit that the deals offered are ludicrous in their own right. Take advantage of them for your own career, whether you’re a Black Friday warrior or a Cyber Monday sale-hawk, and pick up suits, dresses, and other workwear and accessories that might typically be out of the range of a college budget. While it would be nice to not have to worry about it, the reality is that during interviews how you look really can set you apart. To score 100% of the points you can earn in your next interview, Black Friday could be a great source for your next “lucky outfit.” You could also look for deals on tools you could use to improve your skills: supplies for an artist, Photoshop for a marketing major, a tablet for online textbooks and readings, or even just a few books about something you’re interested in. There are many ways to use these holiday shopping deals to your own benefit.
Share your career recipe
Show off your self-confidence to your family.
If you’ll be seeing your extended family this Thanksgiving, there’s a good chance you’ll hear every student’s two favorite questions: “What’s your major? And what are you going to do with that?” This year, come with an answer: I’m going to get a job.
While there is a stigma about the “employability” of certain majors, UW research indicates that our L&S grads are not having too much of a problem finding work shortly after graduation due to the learning that is going on both in and outside of the classroom (e.g. internships, volunteering, student org involvement, studying abroad). This backs up the findings of a large-scale employer survey from 2013 showing that employers today are looking for transferable skills such as communication and analysis more than specific majors, skills that are often very important to liberal arts studies. So, when you are asked about your studies, talk about the hard work you are putting into reading, writing, and analyzing, and talk about all the interesting things you’re learning in your field. Impress your family with your dedication to being successful, and don’t worry so much about your major. Any degree you get has value, and this Thanksgiving, you can get your family to believe in you too.