You can only binge-watch so many episodes of The Crown or the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, so it’s a great time to think about where you are in your college experience, and how you may want to think about getting yourself set for a summer internship or what you want to tackle next semester.
What I like about this plan is that it’s not something you have to do all at once; you have about a month off from school, so you could take the opportunity to brainstorm a few things, including what would you like to be doing next summer? Are there fields that interest you from a professional standpoint? What do you know about them; and what can you learn over the next few weeks?
For example, if you are interested in exploring working for an organization that supports childhood literacy, or you are thinking about interning for an investment bank, the first thing you would do in either case is to begin to understand the universe of possibilities. Who are the influential organizations or firms in this space? What are the characteristics that they discuss in their mission and vision statement? Do you find yourself aligned with these ideas (it would be hard to work at a place that you do not believe in!)
From there, you can navigate a working list of possibilities; and begin to look on linked in and your personal network for connections. No possibility is too far -fetched; including fraternity and sorority contacts, high school contacts, and individuals who your family may know. It is admittedly much easier to reach out to someone to set up a discussion with who you have some connection ( however tenuous). You can also try cold-emails, but I generally suggest reaching out to individuals who may be more inclined to give you 20-30 minutes of their time.
You will want to keep really good track of this outreach; creating a spreadsheet of who you reached out to, including date, email and phone, and how you were introduced to them can be really helpful. Once you get going on networking, you will find that people will want to give you other names and other contacts; and you will want to figure out a way to keep it all straight.
I generally suggest coming up with a brief introductory pitch: “Hi, my name is Allie, and I am a sophomore at the University of Miami. I am beginning to think about next summer and I am very interested in learning more about field x. Would you have time over the next few weeks to chat on the phone or email about your work? I am just beginning my exploration and I would love to speak with someone who knows so much about the profession.”
You will, of course, also want to have a resume ready to share, if asked. Needless to say, working on your resume can feel somewhat like a heavy lift, and we will provide a pretty easy template for you to consider in a subsequent post. A resume is a living document, so you will be glad you have one at this point in your academic career that you can develop and enhance over the next several stages of your development. The bottom line is that it does not need to be scary, and it is never final!
Once you have done some outreach, you can more comfortably consider your next approach. With all of the information you have gathered, you can confidently begin to plan how you would want to secure your internship; true to our name, it’s all about strategy! No part of this should seem overwhelming or not manageable, it’s working through processes slowly and thoughtfully so that you are consistently thinking about next steps.
The same process applies for returning to school in January. What do you hope to accomplish next semester? In addition to the classes that you have registered for, are you thinking about other opportunities to interact with the resources of the school? Do you have a meeting with your academic advisor on the calendar or career services? Are there professors that you have thought you may want to do research with, and you never “got around to” reaching out to them?
How about clubs and organizations that you kept meaning to get involved with? Now that the fall semester has finished, it’s great to take stock of what you may want to do differently this spring. By setting your intentions, and creating a connection with individuals who can support you on campus, or broaden/deepen your experiences, you set yourself up for success come mid- January. The very act of saying it out loud or communicating about your interests with others will help you to act on these interests, and avoid the January blues by providing you with ideas for next actions.
So, while catching up with family friends and sleep this holiday season is so important, getting yourself set for your next six months ahead can be an important and impactful part of your winter break. You will head back to school invigorated and ready to head into the Spring semester with… a strategy for success!