When returning home for the holidays, many of us get so restless. There is only so much snacking on peppermint bark and binging Mad Men on Netflix a person can do. With all that extra downtime – or even if you need a break from the family political banter – you have a great opportunity to plan the next steps in your career. 

If you keep reading, I’ll walk you through the step by step process I take that keeps me on my toes and when I feel the most productive over the break. 

NETWORK WITH PEOPLE IN YOUR HOMETOWN (OR WHEREVER YOU’RE SPENDING THE HOLIDAYS)

I love being home with my family and doggies for the holidays. Most importantly, And I love how slow everything can move around the holidays. Being a senior in college, I am constantly moving every minute of every day trying to stay on top of job applications, but also excelling in my courses. When I am at home, I don’t feel the pressure to get up and be productive. I can simply sit back, relax, wear stretchy pants, and eat some turkey. And yeah, that’s all nice… for about a day. Tuesday morning of Christmas weekend rolls around and I start getting antsy about being in the house.

Use that energy to get to know, or reconnect, with someone whose career interests are aligned with yours. Look for local events or hit up the girl who used to sit next to you in marketing freshman year on LinkedIn to pick her brain about the company she’s currently working for. You’ll be glad you got out of the house, and you’ll have a new connection to take with you when you’re back at work focusing on your next steps. You never know who that person might be able to connect you with! 

GET SERIOUS ABOUT LEARNING A NEW SKILL

Stop waiting for the new year to begin! Start your new year resolutions now! There are plenty of courses online that can help you pick up the basics of financial analysis, the building blocks of computer programming, graphic design, or even how to make a five-course meal. If you are also on a budget, search on Youtube for something you’ve been meaning to try out and look into. There are so many tutorials at the touch of your fingertips. Whether it’s related to your career or not, building up skills and working on something you’re passionate about can make you more attractive to future employers (they are hiring a human, after all) and make you a better employee at the job you currently have.

VOLUNTEER FOR A CAUSE YOU CARE ABOUT

Truth be told, this is one you should be doing regardless of your career aspirations. When the holidays roll around and we’re constantly discussing things we’re grateful for, it’s an easy jump to wanting to do something for someone – or something – who is less fortunate than we are. So make the move and give a couple of hours of your time to a cause you care about.

I am personally really into bridging the gap between the music business and diversity. Over the summer, I discovered Alicia Keys’ non-profit called She is the Music. They host monthly events all around the world the foster young women also interested in pursuing a career in performing or the music business in general. It is free to sign up and I often speak to high-schoolers or young college students about how to get their foot in the door. 

This has an immediate benefit: helping someone in need. But, yes, of course, this is an article about your career, so I have to talk about volunteering’s impact on your trajectory. Volunteering is a way to hone leadership skills. It shows you’re adaptable, dynamic, and care about things other than your own self-interest. So much so that 85% of hiring managers are willing to overlook flaws on a resume if that candidate includes his or her volunteer experience.

So this holiday season, volunteer out of the goodness of your own heart and have a kick-ass resume booster as an added benefit. You also never know who you might meet along the way. 

PICK UP A SEASONAL SIDE HUSTLE

Maybe you’re not necessarily looking to advance your career at the moment, but hey, it would be really helpful to have a little extra cash stashed away for the summer or post-grad life. If that’s the case, consider taking on an additional, temporary job.

There are so many seasonal jobs that pop up around the holidays – restaurants become busier and need an extra set of hands, local businesses are inundated with requests they’ve been waiting all year for, and every mall in America needs a Santa to pose in their atrium. I also know of a lot of college students who volunteer to run social media accounts for local businesses. Going for any one of these (that second one, though, maybe a tough gig to land) will put some extra mula $$$ in your pocket and won’t require the level of commitment that another part-time job might because once the holidays calm down, you can expect the workload to calm down too.

You get a bit more downtime during the holidays than you do during normal parts of the year. Enjoy that time. Relish it. Relax. Then, as your youngest cousin begins to drive you just slightly bonkers, consider taking on any one of these four ways to improve your career. Go into this new decade an extra step ahead!

February 8, 2020

How College Students Can Use Holiday Downtime To Get Ahead In Their Career

College