Winter break officially starts Saturday, December 19. While others may head into break with plans to travel and visit family or to binge on their Netflix queue, Greenlee students can use the three weeks between semesters to prepare for the real world. Whether that entails your [499 professional media internship](/internships/advrt-jl-mc-p-r-499/), another semester taking classes and working for [student media](https://wp.las.iastate.edu/greenlee-v2/experience/) on campus or preparing to land your first full-time position after graduation, winter break is a great time to get things in order for whatever lies ahead in 2016!
Taren Crow, director of Career Services for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offered up some advice on how you can take advantage of your free time between semesters and we threw in some Greenlee-specific additions. Check out our tips below:
1. Start your job or internship search Figure out what type of opportunity you’re looking for by answering these questions:
- Are you looking for a job or internship? Check out the Greenlee Internships LinkedIn group for the latest listings that have come through Hamilton Hall. If you’re preparing to complete your required 400-hour internship in 2016, you might want to review the 499 Internship Packet too!
- What type of company would you like to work for or what type of position are you looking for? This is important information to know; you’ll be more hirable if you can tell employers about your passions and what kind of work you want to do.
- Where would you like to be located? The more you can narrow that down the more focused your search can be.
- What connections do you have that might be able to help you in your search? If you haven’t yet, join the Greenlee Alumni and Friends LinkedIn group to see if you can make new connections in the location you’re looking to go or maybe at the company you dream of working for.
The earlier you start preparing the better, because many underestimate how challenging it can be to find and land an internship. Taking some time to answer these questions will help you narrow your search and make it less stressful when you’re nearing application deadlines or graduation. Your answers may change later on, but that is OK!
A lot of positions for spring, summer and even fall are already online, waiting for you to apply. So get your résumé and portfolio together and start some applications!
2. Look into on-campus work opportunities for next semester Internships and jobs can be highly competitive and employers are looking for applicants with the skills they will need who have on-the-job experience. On campus work opportunities—student organizations, [student media](https://wp.las.iastate.edu/greenlee-v2/experience/) or part-time jobs on campus, which you can find through the Student Jobs Board on AccessPlus—can provide both of these. This is especially important for Greenlee students, as you need to make sure you’ve got a solid portfolio built up by the time you start applying. Iowa State offers numerous publications and over 800 clubs that are always looking for new members, so get involved! You’ll thank yourself later.
3. Apply for scholarships The Greenlee School offers over $150,000 in scholarships for current students with primary majors in advertising, journalism and mass communication and public relations. The school also provides scholarships specifically for students who will be completing their required 499 internships in 2016. [Find more information about Greenlee School scholarships](/undergraduate/scholarships/).
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Iowa State also have several scholarship opportunities for students, which you can find at:
4. Update your social media, portfolio and résumé Social media is crucial in today’s world, but it can make or break you in the hiring process. It’s up to you to make sure your accounts show what you want employers to see. Delete anything that could be seen as offensive or questionable—photos from late nights on Welch may not be what you want to leave a first impression to potential employers.
Social media is also a great opportunity for self-promotion. Post positive experiences in your life, such as cools trips you’ve taken or that semester you studied abroad. Employers like adventurous people who are open to taking risks. Add any new skills you gained last semester from classes or from work experience to your LinkedIn page and maybe ask for some endorsements to back those up.
Here are some more tips on social media do’s and don’ts from Forbes.
Winter break is also a great time to update your portfolio and [résumé](/internships/internship-resources/) with your work from the summer or fall semesters. It can be hard to keep on top of everything in during the semester, so make sure you add your work from any publications you worked for or class assignments you’re proud of while you’ve got some time!
Here are some examples of Greenlee students’ portfolios from JL MC 462 that you can use for reference.
5. Utilize CyHire CyHire is a great online resource when you’re looking for a job or internship and many students don’t use it to its full potential, Crow says. Employers post jobs and internships to the website, and all opportunities are vetted by Career Services, so you can be assured that everything is legitimate. CyHire also has an option you can select where the system will automatically email you when there are internships or jobs available that fit your search criteria. This makes it even easier, because you don’t have to log in every day. Setting up an account now could make your spring semester less stressful.
6. Network, network, network Most students get their internships through various connections they have made. This could include family, friends, family friends, old coworkers, teachers, coaches; the list is endless. So go talk to that crazy uncle you only see once a year at your family’s holiday party, he could have or know of the opportunity you’re looking for.
Another great option is job shadowing. Is there somebody in your hometown with a career you’d like to have one day? Call them up while you’re back and ask to follow them for the day. These connections could be invaluable later on.