For most college students, fall break is right around the corner. It may be the end of a week, where your “Friday” starts at the end of your Wednesday classes. Or maybe it’s an extension of a long weekend, helping you eliminate those “Sunday Scaries”.
Either way, while most view this as a time to rest, relax, and recharge (and it’s definitely important), I truly believe that there are 4 things every student should consider doing during this time, no matter where they might be in their college process.
#1: Update your Resume
Most students have a resume, but very few routinely update it and keep it current on a regular basis. When it comes time to start applying for jobs / internships, they scramble to remember what it is they have done that is pertinent to add, as well as calculate any unique key metrics that are quantifiable to help tell their story. Most of the resumes I see are a dime-a-dozen in their approach to format, wording, etc. Part of this is due to lack of touchpoints with it, and a focused approach on telling your story in a different manner.
#2: Schedule at least 1 informational interview
I’ll go to my grave telling my students the importance of informational interviews for not only relationship building opportunities, but more so, for the opportunity to engage strategically with people in a field you’re paying a lot of money to prepare for.
Reach out to people in entry level positions that you might be considering applying for after graduation, or even to some in more senior level positions in organizations / positions that interest you. Utilizing LinkedIn, email, and other contacts, reach out, and ask for 10 minutes of their time. Develop an agenda of focus areas that you’d like to discuss, and be up front with them regarding the goals. Be cognizant of their time, and understand you need to be extremely prepared…..
Ask them what they would encourage students graduating right now to focus on.
Ask what they say as the biggest issues with new college graduate applications / employees. (and then develop a strategy you can use to get better at this).
Ask what skill or ability they wish they would have developed that may be beneficial in that career path.
And follow up with a hand written note immediately, as well as email.
Then, set a calendar notification in a month to follow up again and thank them for their time. Start the relationship building process with more focus, and truly work to grow under the advice of those in the industry right now.
#3: Schedule a coffee date with someone that inspires you (or you’re extremely grateful for.
While this can also be an extension of number two if you’re in close proximity, I think it’s important to continue to work to surround yourself with opportunities to be engage people that inspire you, or that you’re extremely grateful for. Maybe it’s a former boss that you greatly respected, whom you haven’t seen in awhile. Ask them for feedback relating to many of the concepts above, but also specifically about you, and areas where they think you can grow, considering advice for your future. Most people want to help, and most people are willing to provide their time to people that are truly grateful for their impact, but only if they are willing to focus on adding value and building relationships. Seek an opportunity to provide value, and further deepen that relationship as a person you are grateful to have in your life!
#4: Do a job search focusing on K-S-A’s & build a strategic plan.
Now this last one I feel students often overlook, or are never told about doing, but I absolutely believe it can be one of the most strategic pieces of preparation for your next step from a K-S-A development standpoint.
Now some of you might be asking, what the heck are K-S-A’s?
K-S-A’s = Knowledge / Skills / Abilities
On almost every job posting / description there are a list of specific K-S-A’s that are required / desired for the applicant / candidate, as well as a section for preferred ones for “next level”. I encourage students to go through postings within their field of choice right now, well before they would be applying for a job, and analyze each line of the K-S-A’s, outlining whether (1) they have the skill and are an expert at it, and (2) what they can strategically do over the next few weeks / months / years to get better at it.
Is there a class where you can learn a specific technical skill listed?
Is there a group on or off campus you can join to better develop some type of human skill listed?
Is there another way in which you can learn / improve at the specific K-S-A’s before it’s full go time?
I bet if you analyze the postings, and really dig in, you can put together growth areas that are undoubtedly things you can discuss and SHOW within future interviews, knowing that you’re that much more qualified and prepared for whatever position it happens to be that you go after!
Fall Break is absolutely a much needed time for recharging those batteries to keep pushing through your semester, BUT, it can also be an extremely valuable time for professional growth and making the most of your current experience even if you’re not on campus, or in a classroom!