Before she heads off on winter break, CES Peer Advisor Ada Ruzer ’11 had some thoughts to share with you about using your downtime.

Snow! Thanksgiving break! And now, no it can’t be…finals?? And then…a whole month  with no deadlines, no papers, no anything — in theory a whole lot of time to sleep in, be lazy, and bask in the sunlight (nothing beats “winter” in California.)

Yet the reality is that winter break offers the perfect opportunity to sit down and really refine a resume, network with your parent’s friends, and spend some quality time assessing your career options. For those of us who will be graduating in the spring, winter break is a good time to start the job hunt. I feel as if it will really be “go” time once the New Year begins.

Of course, with all the holiday cheer it can be difficult to motivate yourself to care about the unknown future. But as we all know, winter break usually involves seeing everyone you have ever met in your life. You can avoid answering their “so what are you doing next year?” questions with a shrug, overt lie, or uncomfortable silence, by taking some action during the holidays that will help you respond by helping you move towards figuring it out!


Connect with an organization that specializes in a field that you might like to pursue. Volunteering improves your knowledge of an organization and lets you see whether it is something you want to be a part of. Also volunteering does not require a huge time commitment, helps you to connect with professionals in your area, and can facilitate the development of valuable skills in a short amount of time.

Connect with former employers

If you will be picking up some shifts over the winter break make sure to let your employers know that you might be asking them for a reference in the future. If they are willing to speak on your behalf, send them a thank you note — a little something that they will definitely appreciate and will also demonstrate your professional attitude.

Networking with family and friends

Family time is at an all time high during the holiday season. For some of us, that can be a little draining. Still, we all have professionals in our families who either work at our dream job or have friends at an organization that we would love to work for. Ask your friends, their parents, your parents, anyone you have a connection with, about opportunities that may be coming up in their offices or about possible job shadows that you could participate in while at home.

As we all leave for winter break, I challenge you to do one thing to take a step towards a career. I bet you’ll find it’s not as hard as you think. But even if it is, do it anyway – that’s the point of a challenge!

© 2010 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photo: Sue Dahlin