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Make the Most of Winter Break

November 20, 2013

1. By early December, you will be hunkered down in final exam mode. As soon as the Thanksgiving table has been cleared, invest time sending holiday wishes to any professionals you encountered during the previous 12 months. For more casual acquaintances, emailing those wishes can be perfectly appropriate. In the case of a prospective employer, past employer, or alumni of the school, consider sending a holiday card with a brief personal note. It will help you become memorable, and being remembered in a positive manner is exactly what you want.

2. During the winter break, you may return to a city where you worked as a summer associate or intern just a few months ago. Use the upcoming break to reconnect face to face with contacts you established, especially contacts with potential employers. On more than one occasion, a quick coffee or lunch has revealed a previously unknown job opportunity.

3. In addition to meeting with prospective employers, use the winter break to build your professional network. The holiday season can be the perfect time to reconnect with peers who have gone off in other directions. If you’re a law student, find some college classmate who is now obtaining his or her MBA. If you’re a business school student, find a member of your sorority or fraternity who landed in law school. Eventually, you will need each other. Additionally, connect with the parents of your friends, who may become important members of your network, too.

4. Many offices experience their quietest time of year between Christmas and New Years. Key decision-makers, who have chosen not to take a vacation, will have more time than normal to meet with students who have expressed an interest in a particular firm, company or industry. Take a risk this holiday season. Beginning today, make a list of the school’s alumni who you would most like to meet. Then call or email a request for a meeting during winter break. Don’t give up until you’ve succeeded in scheduling at least one meeting.

5. Spend some focused time during the winter break setting SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-limited) goals for the upcoming year. Begin by asking a series of questions, including: Who do you need to know? Who can help you make a connection with a potential employer? How should you best reach out to that person or persons? When? And what specifically should you say to that individual or ask of them? Remember, you never accomplish a goal that you don’t set.

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