Making the Most Out of Your Last Spring Break: Advice to College Seniors

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In just a few short weeks it will be spring break. It’s that epic time of year when the annual pilgrimage of college students to all places warm begins, or to places with much better snow and powder. At Champlain College our spring break is March 3 – 7. Naturally that actually means February 28 – March 9.  For many students this is a right of passage. An opportunity that comes once a year throughout college to let loose, have fun, and escape from the norm.

However, for seniors who are eyeing May as their graduation — aka welcome to the real world — spring break should be taking on a whole new focus.

There are many ways to look at it. One could think, “Hey, this is my last time to really have fun and let loose.”  Once could also think, “Whoa, in just 8 short weeks I have to find a job!”

Perhaps you are a senior and you are thinking both of these things.

Well I have some advice for you.

Make your final spring break count.

Honestly you will have plenty of time in your life to go to exotic locations, have great fun, and explore the world. And you’ll have many more opportunities to do that if you kick off your career right out of the gate and have a job in May.

My advice to you right now is to take the next week to set up a spring break that will have a lasting impact and maybe help you land a job. This is homework that goes way beyond the classroom. And the grade you get is a job.

  1. Focus on where you want to work. By now you should have either an idea of the city/location you would like to start your job search, or you have a list of a few companies where you’d love to work. If you don’t have that list. Make it. Now.
  2. Get your resume and your LinkedIn ready. By now your resume and LinkedIn profile should be rock solid. You’ve kept up on your accomplishments, you’ve listed your projects, you’ve written your results oriented descriptions. Your resume provides the right amount of information and sends people to your LinkedIn for more depth. What? Not feeling confident about your LinkedIn profile? Well then. Fix it. Now.
  3. Leverage your connections. I’m sure you’ve made a ton of connections with professionals while you’ve been in college. Professors, Internship Supervisors, local professionals from Chambers of Commerce and Young Professionals organizations, and even social media contacts via Twitter chats in those locations you want to go to. If you haven’t…you better get on that! Reach out to those contacts to find out if they know of any upcoming jobs. Let them know you have time coming up over spring break to meet with people and discuss opportunities.
  4. Set up “Informational Interviews”. Using your list of companies in the locations that you are interested in, pick up the phone…yes..the PHONE. Call their receptionist and ask to speak with someone in Human Resources. Use those connections mentioned in #3 above, to help you get in the door. Make a set of informational appointments and follow up with an email that includes your resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
  5. Go have the Spring Break of your career! Practice interviews at your Career Services office, buy that power suite (or get your parents to do it for you as a pre-graduation present), board that plane and meet people, connect with organizations, set yourself up for a successful graduation.

Many people think that college graduation is the culmination of four years of your life. I’m here to tell you it isn’t. It’s the kick off for the rest of your career. To set yourself up for ultimate success don’t wait to walk down that aisle in your cap and gown before you start looking for your first professional job. Start now. Use your spring break to help you get ready. And if you are super creative, like several students I know, you’ll still be able to get in some recreation and down time in between those interviews. Catch some great runs, see great sites, hit the beach…and secure a job.

I’ve seen students do this over and over again. And those who have taken their final spring break to expand on their job search have all gotten jobs before they graduate.

Now that’s something to party about!

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About Elaine Young
I am a professor of marketing, specializing in digital marketing and social media, at a small, private college in Burlington, VT. I blog about teaching and my areas of interest that include digital marketing, social media marketing, and the impact of social communication technology on society, families, and children. I am getting ready to publish my first book: "Tuned-In Family: How to Cope, Communicate, and Connect in a Digital World" which will be available soon. In addition to teaching college students, I also conduct workshops and will speak to community groups and organizations. I'm also a Mom to an amazing 17-year-old daughter. My opinions are my own and do not represent my employer.
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