University Career Center

Business men shaking hands

Once a year during the holiday season, people go home. College students go home from school and working professionals get a small break from their jobs. It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, old and new.

Whether you realize it or not, connecting with your community over break can be a beneficial piece of your job or internship search and/or goal to seek higher education. Who exactly is your community? It’s everyone you know! Friends, family, family friends and friends of friends to name a few. The list goes on!

Here are some tips on how to connect with community over break.

Conversational: Talk with family and friends

Start chatting. Ask people what they do and tell them what you’re interested in. Any and all information they can provide about your field of interest is valuable. Whether it’s at a family holiday party or on a ten-minute chairlift ride up a ski mountain, just get talking. Ask questions. What do they do? What skills do they need to do it? How did they start out in the industry? Seek as much information and advice as possible. More likely then not, either they will offer to help you and/or put you in contact with someone who may be able to. Even if the conversation ends without any plans of forward movement, at the very least you may be able confirm your likes or dislikes about a specific industry through your conversation.

Being home is also a great opportunity to speak with friends who are current college students or recent graduates from all over. Do they study something similar at their university? What are their best practices in finding an internship? Do they have a friend that works for a company you’re interested in? Again, there’s no guarantee anyone can help you, but if you get one good piece of information, it’s a lead and it’s worth it.

Informal: Informational Interviewing

One of the best ways to learn about career and potential job prospects is to talk with individuals currently working in that field. If you know of someone who does what you want to do or studies what you want to study that lives in your area, ask them for an information interview. In person or over the phone, it’s an informal opportunity for you to pick their brains. Here are some tips on information interviewing (http://careercenter.umich.edu/article/informational-interviewing).

Professional: Job Shadow

If you already have a relationship with someone in your community and feel comfortable asking, discuss the possibility of job shadowing. Spend a couple hours or a day in their shoes and learn what they do on a daily basis. Experience their work environment and culture firsthand. This will give you real exposure to the industry of which you have an interest and confirm whether or not you want to pursue it. Here are some additional resources on job shadowing (http://careercenter.umich.edu/article/job-shadowing).

Photo credit: Victor1558 / CC BY 2.0