Spring Break: Preparing for the Future!

Time to make some choices?

A week of fun, sun and/or maybe, future preparation?

Spring break for Seniors!  

For you soon-to-be college & university graduates, what are your spring break plans?  Some of you might be heading off for fun and sun, some R&R in Florida, Texas or another southern clime and I’ll admit: warmer temperatures and a break from the rigors of college can be huge for catching your breath! But spring break is also an excellent time to get a head start for what is waiting for you, certain to begin the day after you do the ‘diploma walk!’

For those willing to sacrifice some fun-in-the-sun, and get down to what’s ahead in the future, here are a few ideas to get things kick started for you!

Spend quality time building your LinkedIn profile

As a potential and essential job search and career tool, your LinkedIn profile virtually introduces you to the world. Spring break is a great time to go into this without distractions or competing elements for your time.  Sit down and really start to map out your full, on-line profile.  Remember that this really is ‘not for you,’ but for those to be viewing you!  Your goal is to create an honest, comprehensive profile of you, your history, your education, your work, community service, projects, interests, everything really that paints an on-line portrait of who you are professionally & personally.  Think of this as your ‘front page’ to self-marketing.  It is easy for people to look at your profile, and they will, so shape it in a way that is professional ‘you,’ personified!

Schedule an informational interview

Informational interviews are huge in terms of information gathered and cost-benefit.  If you can have a sit-down with someone who’s doing something of interest to you, maybe over a cup of coffee or a lunch, you’re getting, free, inside information from someone who’s ‘been where you’re going!’  Commit to scheduling a meeting, maybe a few over break.  This will give you much to think about as you get closer to graduation and you’ve also planted some great networking seeds for down the line!  The plus to this is that people generally love to chat about themselves and what they do so if you approach someone, with a sincere interest and making it evident that you’re getting value out of their taking the time to meet with you, most people you approach, if they have time to do so, will agree to meet up.  Go into this with questions to ask, take notes and make sure you send a follow-up ‘thank you’ after the fact!

Start to plan your networking strategy

Once you’re on LinkedIn, start connecting with people and get your network starting to grow. Connect with everyone, and I mean everyone in your circle: neighbors, friends, students, faculty, family members, parents of friends, and friends of parents. Keep reaching for those concentric circles out and working the message that you’re to be graduating in a couple of months.  On LinkedIn, one of the great features is that you connect with alumni/ae no matter how distant a connection they are for you. Simple! In the top navigation bar, click “network,” then “find alumni.” When requesting a connect request, remember to always personalize such, or as I tend to do, on the back-end, once they’ve accepted, drop them a note that’s personal and thanking them for connecting up.

Job Shadowing

Spring break really isn’t enough time to complete an internship, not a formal one anyway but there is another alternative – job shadowing.  Shadowing someone for just a day or even the week will provide you with great insight into the everyday aspects of that role and even career.  Do some research on someone and/or an organization of interest and see if they’ll be willing to ‘have you around for a bit?’  Great way to see inside an organization and a career path and can tell you much.  It’s also great in that you’ve essentially gotten your foot in the door so as a networking endeavor, it adds to your circle. 

Get your resume ready, targeted and ‘perfect’

This is a good time to get your resume polished and make it ‘perfect.’  Make sure it is well written, detailed and accurate.  That all presented is proof-read and then proof-read again!  Think of your resume as a key and with that, it takes different versions for each lock; targeting your resume is critical and this may be a good time to think of the various versions you may need for different organizations and career paths.

Start thinking about those cover letters

Like the resume, a generic cover letter is almost certainly to be a kiss of death. Each organization needs to know that you’re writing to them with purpose and nuance.  Make sure your cover letter ‘speaks’ to them, individually & personally.  It should always state your intentions, how you identified their organization and why.  The letter should speak to your history and skills, your credentials, but also, and often forgotten, your ambitions and desires.  Your cover letter needs to look backwards, yes, but also ahead! Use your letter to entice and intrigue them and in a perfect world, your letter will allow you to address or solve a problem they didn’t even know they had! Think of how that might make you look as a candidate!?

Get in some ‘mock’ interviews

Practice, practice! Most career centers are still staffed during spring break and this can be a great time to get in and set up mock interviews.  Great practice and with each one your presentation will get better.  Make sure you tell the person who is to conduct your mock to ‘push’ you and really delve into your interest and perceived connection.  The fluff questions will always be there (“what type of animal would you be…?” and that sort of tripe) but get into the real difference makers in terms of questions; “Why you?”  “We have many good candidates… what makes you stand out?” “Tell me why you’re interested in this organization and career path?”  Interviews are more and more becoming ‘behavioral based,’ questions that put you in context, so make sure this is covered too.  Questions such as “In your last role if ‘blank’ happened, how would you handle it?”

Sanitize your on-line image

Sadly, this even needs to be said, but clean house and get everything you do, say, portray, present and post to a “Disney-fied” and professional level!  If you think potential employers will not be checking you out, you’re sadly mistaken and much of what they ‘need to know’ can be found in a matter of key strokes!  This can be the litmus, “you’re in or out” finding with what’s out there in regards to your on-line image.

Order your business cards

Although not a ‘necessity,’ this can be a fun and easy step.  Vistaprint and many others will start you off with several hundred for just a few bucks.  Cheap investment and could be the difference in leaving people with that nice reminder.  Make sure they include your name, phone, professional email (not partydude23@gmail.com type of email), LinkedIn address and blog url if you have one.

Hope this helps and whether you venture off to fun in the sun, stick around for your future career preparation, or something in-between, enjoy, be safe and keep moving forward! 


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