Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

2013 December

Your Winter Break To-Do List – Part 3

Here is your last item or three for your winter break to-do list. Rest, relax, and rejuvenate. Follow these 3 Rs:

1) Rest. Get plenty of sleep. You can’t catch up on lost sleep from the late night cramming. This is your chance to get some much needed shut eye. It will be tempting to stay up late to catch up on your favorite TV show’s episodes and movies you didn’t have a chance to watch during the semester. Our bodies and brains need rest to reboot our systems.

Also, I encourage you to designate a few days a week to rise early (at a reasonable time). You don’t want to sleep the day away. Though, I don’t blame you for wanting to take the first few days to veg and just be. You’ve earned it. You’ve worked hard. However, you want to have a productive winter break too. On the days you want to knock out those items on your to-do list, set your alarm as if you are going to an early morning class or a job. Designate a space in your house as the work zone without distractions or grab a coffee and work at the local coffee shop. Schedule work days and rest days, or set aside a few hours to be productive and a few hours to rest each day.

2) Relax. Take time to curl up on a couch, read a good fiction, visit with family, hang out with friends or reconnect with old ones. Choose a healthy approach to do what helps you relax. Also, I challenge you to disconnect from technology for a day. We are so wired to stay connected that we feel guilty unplugging from the world. You may be surprised at how much you become more aware of who’s and what’s around you when you let go of the technology. We are so connected that we are disconnected. Reconnect with yourself and others on a personal, authentic level. Be fully present in the moment.

3) Rejuvenate.  Revive your favorite hobby that you postponed during the semester. Try something new such as learn to play an instrument or take a class at a local community college. Exercise has restorative qualities too. Take a stroll in your neighborhood minus the smartphone and iPod. Enjoy the sights and sounds to its fullest. Also, getting out of a routine sparks breakthrough and renewed energy. What will ignite new energy for you or renew your spirit? Go and do it.

Let go and disconnect from the source(s) of stressors. Use rest, relaxation and rejuvenation as a catalyst to rediscovering who you are.

Visit the blog next week for a unique perspective on discovering who you are.

Your Winter Break To-Do List – Part 2

Winter break is the perfect time to get ahead on the career development process. If you have already created and updated your resume and LinkedIn profile, you are ready to move forward with conducting informational interviewing and seeking job shadowing/internship experiences.

Here are some additional action items to consider completing during break:

1) Conduct informational interviews. A productive way to learn about a job, career, or industry is to speak with someone in the field. Get started by reaching out and connecting with alums through LinkedIn. Wake Forest alums are a wonderful resource for gathering information and connecting with a professional in the field. Use this list of questions (select the most appropriate questions) to discover more about the position, company, and industry. Don’t ask questions when you can find the answers on their website unless you need clarification. Always send a thank you note after the conversation!

2) Research and apply to internship or job opportunities. Now is the time to be researching and applying for internship/job opportunities on DeaconSource and other job databases.  Many internship applications have deadlines as early as mid-January. Companies will be posting jobs soon after you return from break. The “Find an Internship” and “Find a Full-Time Job” pages on our website has a multitude of resources to aid in your search.

3) Seek job shadowing experiences or a mini internship. Job shadowing allows you to experience a day in the life in a position or industry that you may want to pursue. A mini internship provides you with experience in the industry and an opportunity to develop skills. Both are great ways to add to your work experience. Make the most of your experience by following these great tips. Remember you will meet individuals who are professional networking contacts. After the experience, follow-up with your contact(s) by writing a thank you note.

4) Give back to your community. The holiday season offers many opportunities to give back to the community. Volunteering at a local non-profit will provide assistance to those in need, add to your resume, and build your professional network. Seek positions and/or responsibilities relevant to the skills you want to develop relative to your career interest. Most importantly, focus your energy towards helping those in need.

5) Be social. The season is filled with social opportunities from dinners, parties, to visiting with friends and family. These are unique, safe environments to practice your elevator pitch. When appropriate, share your career interests and goals. The conversations may lead to helpful information for future reference. You never who may be listening that can provide timely advice and leads for internship/job openings. It is a natural space to build your network.

6) Prepare for the Career and Internship Fair. On Wednesday, January 22th from 12-4 pm, employers representing a wide variety of industries will be on campus to meet with students about a myriad of internship and career opportunities. Update your resume with your current GPA, study abroad experience and extracurricular activities. Research your career interests. Prepare and practice your elevator pitch. Purchase a suite to wear to the career fair and interviews. Refer to the “Interview Attire” page on our website if you have questions about appropriate attire for the event and interviews.

Check back next week for one more action item for your winter break to-do list.

Your Winter Break To-Do List – Part 1

Fall semester classes completed. Check. Exams done. Check. Now that you have checked those items off your list, you can focus your attention and energy towards taking small steps in the career development process. You have one month before classes begin for the spring semester. Use this time not only to reflect upon the last semester (as mentioned in last week’s post), but to create or update professional documents (e.g. your resume), and research and explore majors or career interests.

Depending upon where you are in the process, you may want to either start with creating or updating your resume, researching careers, or conducting informational interviews. Select 2-3 things to complete while on winter break. If you haven’t started the career development process, here are some action items to help get you started:

1) Create or update your DeaconSource profile. Create or update your DeaconSource profile to reflect your current career interests and GPA. By selecting up to three different interests (e.g. Consulting, Government, Legal, Non-Profit, Research, Marketing/Sales/PR/Advertising), you will receive personalized email announcements tailored to those interests. These emails are increasingly important now that organizations will begin recruiting for summer interns after the break and throughout the spring semester.

2) Update your resume. First years and sophomores, transform your high school resume into a collegiate resume. Use these resume samples to make the transformation. Juniors and seniors, add and update your collegiate experiences with student organizations (e.g. leadership positions), research, internships, and volunteer opportunities. If you are tailoring your resume for a specific job or internship, be sure to keep your experiences relevant to that position and company. If you don’t have experience, make a plan to intentionally seek out opportunities to develop skills and knowledge in the spring semester and beyond. When you return from winter break, bring your updated resume into the OPCD during resume review hours before sharing it with networking contacts and potential employers.

3) Create or update your LinkedIn profile.  After you update your resume, create or review your LinkedIn profile.  Be sure you update your profile to be consistent with your resume. If you have not created a profile, please review the sample profile. LinkedIn is a great way to network with Wake Forest alums through informational interviews. Also, the OPCD offers LinkedIn photo booth – a place to get a more professional photo taken of you rather than using the cropped picture of you with your friends. Have your profile reviewed during resume review hours.

4) Explore majors. If you are still not decided on a major, don’t fret. Use the holiday break to explore your choices. Reflect upon the courses you took and activities you participated in last semester. Which classes have you most enjoyed and why? Which classes have you performed best in and why? Which classes and majors in the course bulletin do you find most interesting and why? For more clarity, take an assessment to determine your strengths and characteristics. The results may help clarify and confirm crucial decisions like selecting classes, majors, summer options and career interests.

5) Explore careers. When thinking about your future career options, you need to learn more about the career fields that interest you. Use the winter break to research different careers. The OPCD offers information on 26 different career fields complete with industry overviews, positions types and helpful resources. Dig deeper into the careers to learn more about what a day in the life of a certain profession looks like and what the responsibilities entail. Use these helpful career exploration sites to explore and research your interests. One of the best ways to learn about a career is to speak with an alumnus who is currently in the field.

Check back next week for tips on informational interviewing, job shadowing, and more for your winter break to-do list.

Fall Back into Reflection

Classes ending and exams looming; it’s the end of the semester. After taking a day or two recovering from exam week, slow down and take a moment to reflect.

Too often we don’t make time to reflect on our experiences. We rush to the next “event” without giving much thought to what happened minutes ago. We want to check the box and move on. During the winter break, reflect upon the semester – the courses you completed, the extracurricular activities you participated in, and other experiences. Think about your intention and goals set for these areas. The process will help you develop yourself as well as capture stories you can use for future internships and job interviews.

Schedule time now before temptation surrounds you to put it off for another day. To help guide the reflection process, print or download the reflection exercise worksheet. Use the questions to discover who you are, your interests, strengths, and areas for improvement.

Upon completion of the reflection exercise, you may need to adjust your semester and/or annual goals based on the information gathered about yourself, courses, and activities. If needed, modify your goals. Goals do not have to be static. They are a measure to keep you on track toward your desired end result.

Before winter break takes hold and the new semester starts, fall back into reflection.