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This article was written on 05 Dec 2013, and is filled under Career Guidance.

The End of the Semester As We Know It

Wrapping up your very first semester and starting to think about summer plans? Smack-dab in the middle of your Div III and looking at life beyond Hampshire?

Either way, winter break is coming, and we’re pretty sure you’re ready! Hopefully, there will be lots of sleeping and spending time with family or friends. Maybe you’ll be home, or maybe you’ll explore someplace new.

No matter where break finds you, take advantage of time away from classes and campus to start dreaming about longer, warmer days–and how you will fill them.

Here are a few ideas to help you do some dreaming over winter break:

1. THAT “RANDOM PERSON” COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Six-degrees-of-separationEvery encounter you have during break is a chance to share what you’re up to and potentially make useful connections. Schedule time to have coffee with a high school teacher, talk about your Div II or Div III and the kind of internship or job you’re looking for, and see if they have any ideas or leads. Or spend part of a day checking out the workplace of a family friend.

As Hampshire professor Chris Perry shared at CORC while discussing his own meandering career path: “Own your passion—and not privately.”

Let folks at home know what you’re thinking about, what you’re considering doing, where you’d like to be, and what you’re hoping to do. You never know who knows someone who knows someone. And if nothing else, it’s good practice to say out loud the things you’re seeking. Remember: Whatever you’re moving toward is also moving toward you, so go ahead and put it out there.

2. CLICK ON THE FROG!

140px-frog-with-hamp-logoMaybe you’ve heard of it… maybe you’ve even checked it out: Hamplink, Hampshire’s own database of jobs and internships in the Pioneer Valley and from Hampshire friends and alumni, is also the gateway to two other databases that contain thousands of internships, post-graduate fellowships, and jobs nationwide: NIC (Nationwide Internships Consortium) and LACN (Liberal Arts Career Network).

All you need is your Hampshire login info, some keywords, and a willingness to explore. Take some time during break to play around here. Get a feel for “what’s out there” and pay particular attention to any opportunities that catch your eye. Once you’re back on campus, or even via phone during break, you can always schedule time with a CORC counselor to discuss next steps, polish up (or start from scratch) your resume, and work on writing killer cover letters.

3. FREE WRITES & MIND MAPS

mindmapping-3Want to get your creative juices flowing about future plans, but not sure where or how to start? Try this at home: Get out a piece of paper and a pen. Set a timer on your watch or the kitchen stove for ten minutes. Write the words, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and simply start free writing.

What comes out matters less than keeping your hand moving, so if you stall out, just restart by writing that phrase again, as many times as you need to. Maybe you’ve heard of things “other people” are doing that sound exciting, maybe you have ideas or dreams you’ve written off as unrealistic or impractical, or maybe you’re not even sure what you want! It’s all good—just keep your hand moving across that page until the timer goes off.

If you enjoy this exercise, take it another step by mapping out some ideas. Choose ONE of your “cool” things” and write it in a big circle. Then start drawing other circles, each containing other words–these could be people’s names to talk with, qualities or feelings you associate with this idea, things you need more information about, or possible outcomes of letting the idea breathe. There’s no right way to do this! The key is to let your mind wander, and see what you learn.

Check out these ideas to help you get started.

Happy holidays and happy dreaming!

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