Sunday, January 6, 2013

‘Tis the Season for Professional Development!

By Emily Koelle, RIT Career Services

Finals are over and you are ready for winter hibernation to begin. You are envisioning three weeks of sweat pants, holiday cookies, and sitcom reruns. I don't mean to get all Grinchy on you, but holiday break can more than just hibernation from everything school-related. Winter break is an opportunity to make a competitive, career advantage. So during rerun commercials and between tweet updates, try these holiday activities!

Add Some Tinsel to Your Resume!
Now that you have time to reflect on the past year, polish up your message to employers. Make sure that your resume is flawless and up-to-date. Add recent courses, skills, labs, and experiences to your resume. Let family, friends, and neighbors give you feedback. Remember, this document is your ambassador to employers – it has the potential to distinguish you from other candidates and land you the job. Next step: While getting one more laugh, purge your Facebook of all the embarrassing college photos that you wouldn’t want your dream-company to see. Ring in the New Year with an immaculate resume and image!

Sleigh Ride to a Company Visit!
Set up a meeting with a local professional for an informational interview or shadowing day. Tour the organization, meet with potential employers, observe daily activities, and learn more about your field of interest. Even better, if this is a company you would like to co-op or work for, ask what qualities and experiences they seek in their employees. Hand out business cards like Santa hands out candy canes, and get your name known. No need for awkward closing remarks – during this time of the year, go with, “Happy Holidays!” Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – a snowfall of jobs, that is!

Have a Silent Night Improving Your Skills!
Spruce up your job search skills. Become familiar with RIT’s Job Zone, Vault, Interviewstream,, and (suggested lists can be found on our web resources page). Maneuver around these sites now, with your favorite holiday cookie in hand, for a stress-less time later! On top of that, take time to improve your social media skills. Your best friend’s grandma is now on Facebook. Don’t you think it’s time to upgrade? Create a LinkedIn Profile – then connect and engage with faculty, alumni, employers, and professional groups (join the RIT Career Services LinkedIn group). Baby, it’s cold outside, so polish your silver bells in doors!

‘Twas the Night Before Interview Day!
Start researching the companies you want to work for now. Learn about the work they perform, and their mission statements. Also, assess your skills and analyze their fit with the company.  Practice how you will present your experiences. Give the over-played holiday music a break, and listen to a practice recording of yourself. What is more, purchase professional attire during after-Christmas sales! A black suit is the best gift you can give yourself this season.

Networkin’ Around the Christmas Tree!
Connect with friends, former teachers, neighbors, and family members. Use holiday gatherings to connect with people on a professional level. Let others know your program of study, as well as your career aspirations. Practice your “60 second commercial.” You may receive relevant advice or a chance to connect with a professional. You may even discover that your crazy neighbor’s uncle works at your dream-company! At the same time, serve as a network to others. Refer others to your first co-op company or give them resume suggestions. There's no such thing as a blue Christmas for RIT students who network!

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