Rather than just relaxing on the couch at home, more and more students are filling their downtime during winter break with internships. Often referred to as “winternships,” these opportunities can vary in length and typically range from two to six weeks. However, because they are short-term opportunities, the availability and quality of winternships can also vary.
For students debating whether or not to intern while visiting family back home: is finding a winter internship worth it? For many students, the answer is ‘yes.’ Winternships tend to be project-based and students can use the short-term opportunities to experiment with new fields, network, and help build out their resume.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about winter internships, and a few tips for landing one.
Before blasting out their resumes, students should plan exactly how many days they will have to intern after subtracting travel time, holidays, family activities, and other projects or appointments that they will need to attend to over break.
With just a few weeks of downtime, it’s important to consider the logistics of it all. Are a few days needed to travel back home or to the company’s location? Will it be possible to start the internship within the first few days of break and end it in time for the first day of class in January?
Scheduling out exactly how many days are available to do an internship beforehand – and how many days are needed for any travel and other activities – can help students maximize their time and avoid any unnecessary stress due to poor planning.
Evaluating the Reward
Internships are a great way for students to strengthen their skills or zero in on certain passions. However, students should also consider what they want to get out of a winter internship and if putting in the hours over break will be worth it.
Short-term internships can be the perfect way for students to test new skills, or explore careers outside of their studies without any major commitments. So long as the internship doesn’t add too much additional stress around the holidays, it can be an eye-opening and rewarding experience – even if it’s a short one.
Many organizations don’t offer winter internships because they don’t believe there is much value for the students or their organizations. Therefore, it can be challenging for students to even find opportunities to apply for in their college community or their hometown during their breaks.
If this is the case, students must get creative and use their networking skills to find opportunities where they can offer their help. Students can start by contacting family, friends, faculty, etc. and letting them know their availability during winter break. Since most organizations won’t be advertising internships during this time, students can leverage their personal networks and let people know about their interests, skills, and how they may be able to help out.
When a company does show interest, it’s important that students do their own research and offer their own ideas for how they can help the company in such a short period of time.
Contacting Previous Employers
If networking via family and friends fails, contacting past employers is another good option to discover short-term internship opportunities.
Offering to help out a past employer during winter break means minimal time is needed for training and more time is available for providing value. It also makes it easier for students to turn an internship into a paid position that they can continually return to over breaks. If the company’s needs change in the future, they’ll be more likely to share any new internship or job opportunities with someone who’s extended a helping hand multiple times in the past.
Since most organizations will not advertise internship opportunities during this time of the year, students will need to get creative with their searches.
Not all learning opportunities come from working for an organization directly related to a field of study. For instance, rather than trying to find an internship at a studio, photography students can learn a great deal by working at a retail store with a technology section and speaking with customers interested in buying camera equipment as a holiday gift. Marketing students can spend a few hours searching online for local businesses that may need help with their social media presence or blogging efforts and contact them to offer their help, rather than waiting around for marketing agencies to post open positions.
Another option that is often overlooked is job shadowing. While not exactly an internship, students can contact HR departments and ask if there are any opportunities to shadow professionals in the company, even if it’s just for a few days.
Although finding a winter internship can take a bit more effort, they’re not uncommon and can be a nice resume booster. What’s more, there’s often less competition during this time, so students may have more options if they plan well and follow the advice above.