How to make the most of your winter break

How to make the most of your winter break

Your winter break might be longer than usual this year. Here’s how to recharge, get ahead and make memories.

This year has been full of the unexpected. When your school’s winter break gets here, reflect on what you’re grateful for after a challenging 2020. And this year, you might have extra time to do just that. A lot of colleges and universities extended winter break after having eliminated time off during fall semester. Use that extra time to take a breath, think about your accomplishments — and then maybe make money, make strides in your career, and make new memories.

Set a few intentions and you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish. Take our quiz to see what kind of winter-breaker you are, and then follow these tips for making the most of your winter break.

Use your break to: Make money

With a little searching, there are jobs you can take on temporarily during winter break. But due to high unemployment this year, the competition may be fierce, so it’s best to look sooner rather than later.

Check online for remote customer service jobs, remote data entry, and online tutoring. You can also be a virtual assistant, use your tech skills in freelance work like search engine optimization or website coding, or you can even complete market research surveys for cash. Just make sure you have a good internet connection and the self-discipline to do it. Remember to watch out for offers that are too good to be true: No legitimate online job will ask you for money to get started.

If you are willing to leave the house for work, check out warehouse and delivery jobs as people continue to hunker down at home. Or, look for seasonal retail jobs. Bonus: employee discount!

You can also spread the word that you’re willing to tutor younger students or help with their college application essays. As a current college student, you can answer questions about what’s to come later in their college journey.

If you like the work you land during winter break, you may even be able to line up a position for summer break.

Use your break to: Make career strides

It can be easy to lose sight of your long-term goals after a year like this. You might feel discouraged, thinking it’ll be more challenging than ever to get a job after college. But challenging doesn’t mean impossible. Winter break is the perfect time to refocus your career goals and make moves toward achieving them. Even though the job market got tougher this year, it’s critical to stay focused, positive, and connected.

Research companies that interest you to see if they’re offering internships this coming summer. Many even offer virtual internships now. Take advantage of your network of career-savvy family and friends at home and have them look over your resume. Once your resume is polished, don’t be afraid to reach out to connections. Sending a brief, friendly “Hope you are all happy and healthy this season” is a great way to start a new professional relationship without being too forward.

Keep an open mind about what your first job will look like because it might not be what you expected. Maybe the full-time gig you hoped for will have to be part time, or you might have to start in a field that’s a little different from your dream. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! You might jump into a new experience and end up finding something you really love. Use winter break to write down career must-haves and places where you might be willing to compromise.

If graduate school is in your sights, dedicate an hour each weekday of winter break to study for entrance exams like the GRE. Also, gather a list of undergraduate professors and contacts who can write recommendation letters, and send them emails requesting their participation. They’ll likely appreciate the opportunity to get a head start before spring semester begins and more grad-school asks hit their in-box.

Use your break to: Make memories

If anything, this year has taught us to appreciate the here and now. Remember to spend time with and enjoy the people you’ll miss when you return to school: your parents, siblings, and friends from home. If Mom suggests a spur-of-the-moment binge of your favorite old show, indulge her! Call your grandparents to ask about historic times they lived through and how those compare to now. You could even write down their answers, along with your thoughts on this time, so you’ll have a story to tell your grandchildren one day!

Finally, don’t underestimate how much it’d mean to former coaches or teachers if you checked in via social media or a text. They’ll love to hear that you care how they’re doing, and how you’re doing in college, and they might even show you off as a role model to their current students.

Want to read more about building a spending plan in school?

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