3 Ways to Use Break Week to Help Move Your Career Forward

break week career tips

Break week is a great time to sit back, relax, forget about school, and enjoy the finer things in life.

That said, it’s also a prime opportunity to use a little of your extra free time to take a few simple steps that can help further yourself as a professional. You’ve got seven days with no live chats, papers or group projects, so why not dedicate a little of that extra free time so you won’t have to play catch-up later? Try taking these three steps.

1. Gather, notate, and update your skills.

The skills you study in class can be a valuable addition to your resume. These can signal to an employer that you may be qualified for the position you are seeking. One of the biggest issues students have at the end of their program is not being able to communicate what they learned, or how they grew during their time as a student. Yet for many, their degree is their main qualification for the new career path on which they are embarking. No matter how well you did in school, though, or how good your grades were, it can be difficult to remember everything you studied over the course of your degree program.

One simple activity you can work on each break week is to write down and detail what you learned in your classes over the past few sessions, as well as the specific skills you may have gained. You don’t have to write out the full course curriculum, but you do want to focus on the main takeaways. For example, if there was a specific computer program, procedure, law, or technique you studied, that would be a great addition to your list. It’s much easier to go back to these notes than to search through assignments and textbooks when you need to write a resume.

2. Focus on your networking.

There are many ways to network during break week. To start, keep in touch with your professors. You do not need to be best friends, but maintaining a friendly, professional relationship may lead to solid benefits.

Why? First, some companies and organizations ask for reference letters. At many universities, the only ones able to provide these letters are professors. They may not write one for a student they do not remember.

Additionally, many of these professors have industry experience. They can be great to learn from even outside of the classroom, and they may have contacts within the industry to assist with expanding your professional network.

You can also take time to update your professional social media presence on networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter, which can help further your networking outreach. Search, connect with, and follow individuals within your industry or at companies at which you might like to seek employment. By taking the first steps towards building your professional network, you can work toward the next step: conducting informational interviews (more on this below).

3. Take the opportunity to research.

When you are not busy researching information for your courses, you can spend some of that time researching your industry of interest and related organizations.

If you are not currently working in your industry, this is a good chance to take the time to understand and create a path of how to get to where you want to go. Look into what positions you might pursue to gain experience, which ones you can advance to after an entry-level role, and the skills and knowledge you will need to achieve your goals.

Is there an organization or set of organizations you are interested in working for? Take your time to research them as well. There are a few ways you can begin. You can start with reading their websites for company information. You might also follow them on LinkedIn - this is a great way to learn about updates and where the company is headed. Finally, try to speak with individuals who work there in informational interviews. Ask them about company culture, what they look for in employees, their hiring process and expectations for applicants/new hires. All of this information can be valuable throughout your search.

It’s important to take time off and relax during break week, but you can use your some of free time to invest in your future. You are already investing in yourself with your educational program; use your resources to work toward advancing your career as well.

Looking for more career development tips? Find them here.

If you're a current AIU student or alumnus interested in resume assistance, interview tips and other career advice, please contact the Career Services Department at 877-221-5800 Option 5 or at careerservices@aiuonline.edu.