5 ways to support your career planning this Winter Vacation

5 ways to support your career planning graphicIn this blog, Jane Ansell and Emily Packer, Careers Consultants here at the CS, offer some key resources you can use from your Careers Service to support your planning over the Winter break

It’s important to remember this is a break and if you feel that you need to take time to recuperate and rest, then that’s an important step to making plans that will last. Our resources will be here for you in the New Year too – so take a break if you need to.

If you have been waiting for this break to get going with your plans – whatever they may be – we have something to support you. If you are new to using the service, here are the Top 5 Things to know about the service on YouTube.

Staying local this Winter?
If you are planning on spending time in Cambridge over the Winter holidays, have a look at the Cambridge SU Winter Holiday Activity Guide. The guide contains information about things to do in Cambridge and beyond, including activities provided by students for students. It is a live document and will be updated on a daily basis with more activities. 
1. Start where you are!

Your stage of study often has little to do with certainty about your future. Whether you are in your first year or coming to the end of your PhD, you may be absolutely sure about your future plans or not have a clue where to start (or somewhere in between!).

Wherever you are we have a place for you to start. Head over to our resources for people who are looking for ideas, have some idea or have a clear idea.

We also have starting pages for undergraduates, Masters students, PhD students, PostDocs, and our Alumni.

2. Get to know yourself

Maybe you are sure that you know what your interests are, your strengths and weaknesses – but it doesn’t hurt to do a skills and strengths MOT from time to time. Good planning often starts with knowing who you are and what you have to offer.

We have ways to help you evaluate where you are: start with our self-reflection toolkit and ‘Profiling for Success’ to think more deeply about your experiences.

Perhaps you are wondering how you are developing skills on your degree? If you are, we have a playlist that talks you through how you build skills on your degree and the range of skills that employers value.

3. Take small steps for big results

When we are planning our future, especially when we feel we are on a deadline, it can seem that if everything doesn’t happen at once, then nothing is happening at all. If you have some time to focus on your planning over the break – it is best to do it in small steps, particularly if you are making a big decision.

Our Career Essentials programme on YouTube, and live on Handshake during term, can help with most aspects of the process. Here we share some specific resources to help you focus:

Career Essentials

4. Make connections

Building a network of contacts can help you discover the types of work that will suit you, give you insight into what a job is like day-to-day and even lead to opportunities for work experience or employment. Watch our Career Essentials: Building Your Network YouTube videos to get started.

If you have a good idea of where your heading, or if you’re looking for inspiration as to which area of work may suit you, it can be useful to talk to those already working in your areas of interest. An excellent place to start is Alumni Careers Connect – our database of hundreds of Cambridge alumni who have signed up to offer insight and advice into your chosen sector. It’s a great way to discover how they got started in their career, what certain jobs are like, and how the sector they work in really ticks.

Discover more ways to make contacts from our Networking pages, as well as suggestions on how to make that first approach and the types of questions to ask.

5. Brush up your CV

Time out from studies during the vacation can be a good opportunity to give your CV an (early!) spring clean. Although you’ll need to tailor it for each individual application, it can be useful to have a good general CV to start with, that you can then make changes to, when the need arises. See our Career Essential: Successful CVs YouTube videos for some guidance and the latest CV Guide for real-life examples and helpful suggestions.

You’re very welcome to discuss your CV with one of our Careers Consultants (see our opening times below) but you might like to use CareerSet first – an online CV optimisation platform, which enables you to submit your CV 24/7 and receive an instant overall score plus suggestions for improvement.

And finally…

And if you’re looking at advertised jobs or internships over the festive period, remember to check Handshake regularly. It’s not all about grad schemes in Michaelmas – employers from many sectors advertise throughout the year.

Watch our Career Essential: Smart job searching YouTube playlist to make sure you maximise your search, from finding employer inspiration, looking for sector specific roles, and using social media.

As we said, it’s as equally important to take a break as it is to plan your career, so however you spend the festive period, have a happy and healthy vacation!

Careers Service opening hours over the break: The Careers Service centre in the Student Services Centre will close its physical doors from 5PM on Friday 10 December until 9AM on Monday 18 January.
We’ll continue to be available online until 5PM on Wednesday 22 December, and then reopen online on Tuesday 4 January.

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