Fall Break Focus: Strategic Steps to Advance Your Career as an Undergraduate

As the vibrant hues of autumn set in and the academic pace gives way to the respite of fall break, it’s an opportune time for undergraduate students to shift some of their focus to future career aspirations. Here’s how you can make the most of this season to plant seeds for your professional growth.

1. Reflect on Your Passions and Skills:
Use this quieter time to think deeply about what you love to do and where you excel.

Tip: Create a list of your interests and skills, and consider how they might translate into a career. This self-awareness will be crucial as you explore job options.
Career Center Resource: https://careers.uiowa.edu/career-prep/exploring-majors-careers

2. Update Your Professional Profiles:
In today’s digital world, your online presence is often your first impression.

Tip: Refresh your LinkedIn profile, polish your personal website, or build a digital portfolio showcasing your academic projects and extracurricular achievements.
Career Center Resource: https://careers.uiowa.edu/linkedin 

3. Network, Network, Network:
Networking isn’t just for business majors; it’s a valuable tool for everyone.

Tip: Reach out to alumni from your university, join professional groups on social media, or set up informational interviews with professionals in your field of interest.
Career Center Resource: https://careers.uiowa.edu/career-prep/networking

4. Research Internships and Jobs:
Dedicate time to search for internships or part-time jobs that align with your career path.

Tip: Many organizations start their recruitment early, so use this break to get ahead. Bookmark jobs to apply to and note any application deadlines.
Career Center Resource: https://careers.uiowa.edu/jobs

5. Attend Virtual Career Fairs and Workshops:
Many companies and career services host online events that you can attend from anywhere.

Tip: Register for virtual career fairs, workshops, or webinars to learn more about industries and job search strategies. The University Of Iowa uses Handshake, allowing students to access thousands of opportunities like these at no cost.
Career Center Resource: https://careers.uiowa.edu/handshake

6. Update Your Resume and Cover Letter:
Your resume should be a living document, growing and changing as you do.

Tip: Tailor your resume for the jobs you’re interested in and craft a cover letter that tells your unique story. Need a little help? Come to the Career Center (C310 PC) between 10 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and get a free resume review by our Career Peer Advisors.
Career Center Resource: https://careers.uiowa.edu/resumes-cover-letters

7. Practice Your Interview Skills:
Use this downtime to refine your interview techniques.

Tip: Conduct mock interviews with friends or use online platforms to simulate the interview environment.
Career Center Resource: https://careers.uiowa.edu/interviews

Fall break is a gift of time. By directing some of that time towards your career development, you’re not only staying productive but also paving the way for a smoother transition from campus to career. Remember, the seeds you plant during this break can blossom into opportunities that will shape your professional journey. So, grab a spiced latte, enjoy the crisp autumn air, and take these steps to focus on your future. Your career will thank you for it!

Dana Dominguez

Dominguez, Dana M - Director, Operations and Marketing