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5 Ways Students Can Get Ahead Over Winter Break

'Twas the week before Christmas, and college students just finished their final exams and left campus for a well-deserved vacation.

While it's important to relax after a busy, stressful semester, it's also important to not take your foot off the gas pedal for too long. Breaks are a great opportunity to focus on building your career without needing to worry about class assignments or midterms.

Here are five ways you can elevate your career between sips of hot cocoa and ski trips:

1.) Catch up with connections

That old professor you haven’t had time to catch up with all semester. That PR professional you met at that event a few months ago. Take the time to reach out – whether by LinkedIn or through an email, and see what they’ve been up to. Connections are crucial in the PR world, and by keeping up with them and checking in from time to time, you will be sure to stand out and be remembered.

2.) Do some reading

I’ve loved reading since I was little, so I might be a little biased. But there is a lot to learn from a good book! A few of my favorites to pick up are Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht, The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott, Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. If books aren’t your style, there are great websites constantly churning out industry news and updates. PR Daily, Mashable, AdWeek, Fast Company and PR News are some great resources.

3.) Look ahead

Is there an internship you’re interested in this summer? If you’re graduating, do you know where you’ll be looking for job opportunities? Although some jobs/internships won’t be ready to apply for until closer to the end of the semester, it’s helpful to know what’s out there and the kinds of opportunities you’ll be looking at. It’s also a great time to reach out for some informational interviews or shadow days when you have time off this break. Most companies will offer these kinds of opportunities, and it lets you get into the office, meet people and see what the atmosphere is really like as opposed to reading about it on a website.

4.) Perfect your online portfolio/social media brand

Things get busy during the semester, so now is a great time to upload those work samples from your internship or a class to your online portfolio. Don’t have one? Weebly, Wordpress, Wix and Tumblr are easy to use and free. It’s also a great time to clean up your social media channels and really start to think about what you want your “brand” to be. You better believe that employers, especially in this field, will be searching for you – I’m one of the internship coordinators at my agency and one of the first things that I do after looking over an applicant’s resume is see what their online presence is like.

5.) Take time for yourself

Finally, make time for some self-love.

You’ve had a crazy semester, and break goes faster than you think it will. Relax, spend time with family and friends and don’t feel guilty about binge-watching that show on Netflix you didn’t have nearly enough time to watch during the semester. The best creativity and ideas come when the mind is relaxed, so make sure that you take care of yourself and enjoy it!

Do you have any additional tips, or plans for winter break that you want to share? Tweet them to me @jdiluglio!

Jessica DiLuglio is a Social Media Assistant and Internship Coordinator at Dixon Schwabl. She’s a recent graduate of The College at Brockport, and is a member of PRSA’s Young PR Professionals Committee. Follow her on Twitter @jdiluglio and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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