Regardless of what career you’re studying to enter, it’s imperative that you recognize the incredible value of time. Simply put: the single greatest resource that you have at your disposal while a full or part time student is your time. The more that you can capitalize on it, the better you’ll do in your academic career.
Of course, your course of study serves as a foundation for your professional work after graduation. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to put some serious thought into how you can maximize the effectiveness of the breaks on your school calendar.
Finding ways to incorporate your time off into your educational experience can not only help to keep you on top of your coursework, but also better your chances of having strong job placement odds when you finish your studies.
Try making a few of these activities a part of your breaks from school and you’re bound to see positive results when it comes time to hit the healthcare job market.
Review your coursework from the prior term or year
Whether you’re on summer break or just have a few days off between terms, one of the best things you can do for yourself is simply review the coursework that you’ve recently completed. Following examinations, finals or cumulative projects, this may be the last thing that you want to do, but the benefits of this are undeniable.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, young people are particularly prone to forgetting academic information during extended breaks.¹ Whether you’re studying to be a certified medical assistant or are taking classes in billing and coding, you can benefit greatly from breaking out your textbooks and reviewing them in your free time.
This need not be a massive time commitment, as well. After all, you should be able to enjoy your time off. Try to allot 30 minutes each day to go over old work and quiz yourself on former curriculum. You may be surprised at how much this helps you retain information, and your odds of being able to speak intelligently about former coursework during interviews will certainly increase.
Work on your professional network
Even if you only have a few days off between grading periods, it’s a great idea to use that time to make some valuable connections. While networking tools such as LinkedIn and other career building websites can be helpful, your own existing network is a good starting point. Robert Orndorff, a senior director at Penn State University’s career services center, recommends reaching out to people you or your family know who work in the field you’re trying to enter.2
“Make connections with people from home areas and family friends,” said Orndorff to the Penn State News. “You may be surprised by how much it can impact your career development.”
See if your parents or family friends know anyone working in your desired industry and try to arrange to visit their clinic or business and observe them. It may not land you a job, but it could very easily get you a reference you can use later on.
Again, finishing coursework for a given term may leave you in a situation where you simply want to relax your mind and take it easy. However, using free time to take on an academic project will be incredibly appealing to employers. If at all possible, try writing an academic paper and attempt to get it published. This is something you’ll be able to point to during your application process to show that you have initiative and drive.
If this project is too ambitious or you have a limited timeframe, try building your own blog or website on which you discuss your academic pursuits and career interests. There are a ton of sites out there that can make this process simple for the non-tech-savvy among us, and having a website or portfolio is always a good career move.
1) The National Summer Learning Association, ‘Know the Facts,’ 2009. http://www.summerlearning.org/?page=know_the_facts
2) Li, Yixuan, Penn State News, ‘Experts offer tips for students to get ahead during winter break,’ 12/8/2014. http://news.psu.edu/story/337599/2014/12/08/academics/experts-offer-tips-students-get-ahead-during-winter-break