A winter break guide to professional development

Dec. 13, 2023

Set yourself up for success this winter break by following these tips from our professional development expert.

Young male college student sitting on a couch with his laptop

Finals are upon us, and with that the fall semester is almost behind us. I hope your winter break is full of a lot of relaxation and fun! If you find yourself fully rested and thinking about your future during your downtime, here are some easy ways to work on your professional development while you are away.  

1. REFLECT: Update Resume and LinkedIn Profile 

You have experienced so much in the last semester, especially over the last year even. Now is the perfect time to sit down and reflect on all that you have learned. Start by jotting down some notes about jobs or internships you have worked in, clubs you have been involved in, volunteering you have completed, or any other professional experiences where you have practiced your soft skills this year. Then pull up your resume and LinkedIn profile to make sure they also capture those experiences. 

As a reminder, your resume should really only be one page. So, if adding new experiences bumps your content onto a second page – make sure you are also removing older or less relevant experiences from your resume at the same time.  

Remember, when describing your experiences, try using action verbs and quantities whenever possible.  

2. LEARN: Complete an Informational Interview 

While you are home and have a short break in your schedule, capitalize on your network. Use this time to connect with former teachers, friends of your parents, neighbors, etc. to intentionally learn about their careers through informational interviews. You might be surprised to learn about their paths and how the steps that they took might actually help to inform your next steps! 

3. PLAN: Set SMART Goals 

Cassandra Ott-Kocon, Experiential Learning Coordinator, standing in front of the Forbes Building on the University of Arizona campus

Everyone loves a good New Years’ resolution! It might be more beneficial though to think about your resolutions as goals, or more specifically SMART goals. To get started, think about the upcoming year and what you hope to accomplish. Then, consider the actions you would need to take to achieve those goals. From there, you can re-write your goal to a SMART goal by ensuring it is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. For example, a goal might be to “run a half-marathon”. The same goal written as a SMART goal might be to “run the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in June 2024 with my sister, which will require immediate registration and a six-month training program as a beginner”.  

There are plenty of online resources to support the development of your resume and LinkedIn profile, completion of an informational interview, and outline of SMART goals. However, for our Norton major students, I am also available throughout most of the break. You can schedule an appointment at https://bit.ly/nortonpro - or - email me directly with your questions at caott@arizona.edu. I look forward to connecting with you again soon! 

Cassandra Ott-Kocon