If you can bear to do so, try to slide out from behind the computer screen and shut off Netflix for a few hours each day, and make winter break a really beneficial time by getting a head on some career development. Since we’re all hoping to get a job after college, it’s super important to make sure you stay on top of all that career stuff that’s probably been on your to-do list for a while. Whether it’s something simple like updating your resume or a larger project like learning how to code, any little step you take over winter break can make the month at home feel like less of waste of time. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Update Your Resume

Keeping your resume fresh and up to date is always good. You want to always have the most recent version of your resume on file, in case you need to give it to someone quickly. Also, updating the layout often can help keep your resume look cleaner and like you put more effort into it (because you really did!).

Freelance

There are tons of freelance writing options online. Even if it isn’t what you are interested in doing as a career, it is good to be published online and showcase your writing abilities.

Volunteer

Find a cause you care about, and spend the extra time you have volunteering. If you’re interested in working for a non-profit, this can be a great opportunity to get your fit in the door at a dream non-profit company. Showing you’re passionate about something enough to work for free will show future employers your dedication to the cause.

Build Your Website

Having an online presence is crucial in the workplace today. Showcasing your portfolio and experience in a clean-cut, simple website will be impressive to potential employers. It is also a way to showcase your photography, published work, and more. Buy your own domain name before your name is already taken. The most commonly used platform is WordPress, but there are many other options that can be equally effective and user friendly.

Learn How to Code

On that note, learning how to code can help you build an original and beautifully-designed website. There are plenty of free online courses for HTML and other coding languages. It is just about practicing and cutting out a chunk of time to be proactive and teach yourself. Here’s where the real college independence skills come into play. If you know how to code, you could also potentially design websites for small companies or restaurants who don’t have the nicest looking website. It’s possible to get paid pretty big bucks for website design if you get good at it.  And if you build your career on this, you’re also guaranteed a high pay. In fact, according to Builtin Chicago, salary rate of software engineers is among the highest in the field of both engineering and technology careers.

Build a Social Media Presence

Just as building a website is crucial, cleaning up your social media sites is important, too. When employers are choosing their candidates, whether for a job or internship, you can guarantee they Googled your name to find you on Twitter. Don’t stress out too much about your tweets, but make sure they are pretty harmless. You can have personality and opinions, but not too many curse words and don’t post pictures from your Saturday night. If the people at the party didn’t want to see you that drunk, the people who weren’t at the party don’t want to either. Especially on a Monday morning when employers start reviewing applications.

Apply for Internships

Apply, apply, apply. Send out as many resumes and cover letters as you can. If you’ve never had an internship before, it’s important to start with smaller name companies or even start-ups. You are going be more likely to get the internship, more likely to get hands-on experience, and be all-around treated like a part of the team.

Ask Your Neighbors if They Need an Intern

Now that you’re an adult (or something closer to it), you should take advantage of the adults who have known you for your entire life, and the opportunities they might have for you. If you’ve known them for a while, you might think they know all the neighborhood gossip about you from high school, but you shouldn’t worry too much about that because the longer someone has known you, the more faith in you they will have. See if you can intern at a neighbor’s law firm, medical office, marketing company, family business, or whatever it is they are doing. They could probably use extra help around the holidays anyway.

Email Your Fav Companies Your Resume

Some of your dream job companies might only have internship opportunities for seniors or students who have recently graduated. You should send them and email with your resume and cover letter anyways. Tell them you have been keeping them on your radar for internship opportunities that fit your experience, and if they have any openings, ask them to let you know. The worst thing that could happen is they don’t respond. The best thing that could happen is they have an extra spot and you seem like a good candidate. What will probably happen is they’ll email you more about the opportunities you can apply for in the future and keep your resume on file.

Feature Photo via Moraine Valley

What career development activities will you take part in?