We here at Career Services hope that everyone is studying hard for their final exams now that classes are officially over. Soon, those exams will be over too, and everyone will all breathe a collective sigh since now they get to enjoy a couple of weeks off from school to enjoy the holidays. Time flies and before you know it, you’ll be attending a lot of holiday parties, activities and social functions. Surprisingly, however, these holiday gatherings provide the perfect opportunity to be networking, building relationships, learning about diverse jobs, and starting career conversations that could assist you in getting a head start on your future career exploration and work search.
Whether it is a work party, family gathering, or just any get-together, the festive mood means that many will be in the mood to chit chat, so enjoy the conversations. These conversations involve interacting with others, where you may be looking for a job, a volunteer opportunity, or simply to add to your contact list. Often, the topic of work is talked about, so listen, be curious, and ask questions. One of the goals of these discussions is to simply gain an introduction or referral. However, be aware that the point of the conversation is not always about getting a job. Sometimes these conversations can help open your mind and introduce you to other careers that you may not have heard of before, and this can broaden your awareness when it comes to starting your own work-search. Ask questions that will help you gain ideas regarding a new experience or opportunity. Some questions to get the conversation going besides the ol’ “Do you have any plans for the holidays?” could be asking “what do you do for a living?” or even “how did you get started in this industry?” This is then a perfect segue way to share your career-related goal, and ask them if they have any advice or input for you. Conversations are a two-way street, so this is where your networking and conversational skills come into play. Your perfected elevator speech, which frames your accomplishments and experiences, is a surefire way to get the other person’s attention and get them interested to ask you questions.
Remember to cultivate the relationship even after the holidays have ended. Always follow up and thank them for the insightful conversation you had at the holiday party regarding the current job market or the introduction he/she made with another person of interest. In the end, even if you do not get an immediate job lead, the most important lesson that you can take away is the knowledge of learning about a particular career or topic, and a new person you have met that you can now add to your professional network.