How to make the most of your winter break

Put your winter break to good use by getting ahead academically, financially, and professionally.

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When you return home for winter break, it can be nice to take a breather from classes, exams, and even social stresses. However, that doesn’t mean you should lounge around throughout your entire break.

If you have a few weeks off this winter, set a few intentions and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish — financially, academically, and recreationally. Take that breath, hit the reset button, then follow these tips to make the most of your winter break — and hit the ground running next semester.

Use your break to: Make money

Don’t shy away from applying for local jobs just because you won’t be around long term. Many retailers look for temporary workers around the holidays to increase support on the floor during the busy season. Call your local retailers and inform the managers that you’re seeking employment during the holiday season. Another bonus of working retail? Employee discounts can help save you money on holiday shopping.

If retail isn’t your thing, spread the word around your neighborhood that you’re willing to tutor high school students or help with their college application essays. As a current college student, you’re a valuable resource in answering their questions about what is to come, and you can help them solidify any needed skills before they step foot into freshman orientation.

With a little searching, there are many other jobs you can take on temporarily — you may even line yourself up for a more long-term position come summer break.

Use your break to: Make career strides

It can be easy to lose sight of your long-term goals when you’ve got final exams, term papers, and extracurricular obligations on your mind. But winter break is the perfect time to refocus your career goals and make moves toward achieving them.

Spend time researching companies that you’d enjoy working for, and make a calendar of when internship and job applications are due. 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 holiday greeting is a perfect excuse to start a new conversation with a professional connection while avoiding being too forward.

If graduate school is in your sights, dedicate an hour each weekday to study for entrance exams like the GRE. Also, start pulling together a list of professors and contacts who can write recommendation letters, and send them initial emails requesting their participation. They’ll likely appreciate the opportunity to get a head start on your letter before the spring semester starts.

Use your break to: Make memories

Remember to restore some balance to your life, and spend time with people you’ll miss when you return to school. Your parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends from home will appreciate the one-on-one time. Make it a point to head to your favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and parks. If Mom suggests a spur-of-the-moment road trip to your favorite local destination, take her up on it! Go on that ski trip with your buds from high school and to the soup kitchen volunteer day with Grandpa.

Finally, don’t underestimate how much it’d mean to former coaches or teachers if you stopped by practice or class. They’ll love to see how you’re doing in college, and they might even show you off as a role model to their current students.