Career Corner: Make the most of your winter break

By Yahya Khan, Peers for Careers Correspondent

(As orginally published in the Ticker,

Baruch College’s winter break starts when finals end, and includes multiple holidays. Your ultimate goal should be to ensure the winter break is used in a productive and imaginative manner. For accounting majors, this is a time to gain some hands-on experience, in the form of an internship or part-time position.

January is considered a busy month for both audit and tax practices.  As a result, several large and regional accounting firms recruit winter interns. One of the benefits of interning during this time is securing the opportunity to be exposed to substantive work with real deadlines. In contrast, the summer season tends to be much slower. There are many opportunities posted in STARR Search, especially at small, local firms.

The Starr Career Development Center provides all student’ access to Focus 2.  This system includes personality assessments that can allow students to get a good sense of their core strengths and how they might fit into a prospective career. The On Campus Recruiting (OCR) Internship tutorial is another potentially helpful tool. It is a web-based tutorial —easily accessible through the SCDC website—which provides information about how to apply to and interact with employers during the internship recruiting process. Completing this quiz is a mandatory step for students who want to participate in internship OCR.

Although deadlines for the upcoming intersession have already passed, another opportunity that winter break grants is studying abroad. AIESEC, a global youth leadership development organization with chapters in over 150 countries and 30,000 universities offers a chance to intern abroad in a host of different countries and disciplines with a focus on personal development.

The Baruch chapter is hosting information sessions and is a good resource to learn more about these opportunities.

Apart from structured internships or study abroad tours, simply traveling to different countries and exploring different cultures can be a rewarding, relaxing use of the break. In conjunction with traveling, it could be helpful to use the time over break learning or brushing up on a foreign language.  In today’s world, where globalization is the norm and bilingual candidates the standard, it is important to demonstrate knowledge of or willingness to learn another language.

For those of you staying in or around New York City, SCDC will be open through the intersession and will provide its traditional resume and cover letter review along with mock interview and counseling services. This is a great time to attend workshops and focus on the career skills you need to navigate the job and internship search.

Many finance majors will use this time to prepare for the spring recruiting season.  Be advised many employers will be collecting resumes during the break and interviews will kick into high-gear once classes start. Thus, the winter break can be used to brush up on technical questions, internship applications and interview practice. A resource to use this is Vault, which can be accessed free of cost through STARR Search and has a wealth of information such as technical guides, popular interview questions and employment statistics for all major career paths.

Another great way to ensure that you spend your vacation in a productive manner is to volunteer your time and effort to improve local communities. Winter, and the holidays that fall within this period, often allow us to reflect on how blessed most of us are.

Volunteering gives us the opportunity to do some good in the world. Thus, the winter break is the perfect opportunity to give back to the community.

There are limitless volunteer opportunities for you to take advantage of, whether it be serving food at a soup kitchen or donating blood at a blood drive. Some organizations that offer great volunteer opportunities are the New York Blood Center, City Harvest, Meals on Wheels and New York Cares. An additional benefit of volunteering is that it rounds out a candidate’s profile and provides something meaningful and interesting to talk about in potential interviews.

Soon—almost too soon—the fall semester will be over. Whether your winter break is spent traveling, visiting family and friends, in the final throes of graduate school tests and applications, or even in the simple pleasure of reading that book trilogy everyone is talking about, it should be looked on as an opportunity to gear up for the year to come.