13 Ways to Stay Engaged During Break Periods

Below are ideas to continue to explore and build on your interests – professional, personal, and civic – during the fall, winter, and spring break periods. This list is not all-inclusive but a way to jumpstart thinking about your options; consider scheduling a meeting with your CLS Advisor to brainstorm what experiences and opportunities are best for you!

Rest and take time for yourself

  • Everyone needs an opportunity to rest, recharge and care for their well-being. Consider balancing activities to make sure you have time for fun, to socialize, and to relax. This can provide you with a valuable perspective!

Update your online professional profiles

  • Your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles serve as the “first impression” for potential employers, mentors, and professional connections. A break period is a great time to check that your profiles are up to date and include a professional photo. More information on LinkedIn profile best practices can be found on our Networking page.

Prepare your application materials for summer opportunities

Connect with or job shadow alums & industry professionals

  • The CLS Essentials video series are brief video guides on a variety of topics, including how to use the LinkedIn Alumni Tool to identify and connect with Grinnell College alums. LinkedIn is a great resource for making these connections. Once you have made a connection, our Informational Interviews guide helps you get the most out of your conversations.
  • During spring break, the Externship Program connects exploratory students with alumni and parent hosts for a 3-5 day job shadow experience (the application process takes place the fall preceding the spring break program).

Work at an on or off-campus job

  • On-campus jobs are listed in Handshake, and some may continue through break periods. You can reach out to the supervisor of a specific job to inquire about work hours during breaks. This is also a good time to brainstorm what on-campus or off-campus jobs you may be interested in, search for new opportunities, and develop your application materials.

Draft or update your resume

  • Check out our Resume and Cover Letter Writing page for guidance on how to get started with a resume, including examples! These are all Grinnell College-specific guides. Then, you can meet with a CLS adviser to review your resume together and ensure it is the best it can be.

Enhance your skillsets

  • Did you know Grinnell College offers free access to LinkedIn Learning and Forage for students? Sign in with your Grinnell credentials to gain access to courses and tutorials, and enhance your skills (technical as well as “soft” skills). The Wilson Center has also collected a list of remote learning platforms.

Create an independent project

  • Is there a topic you’ve always been interested in, a new technique you’ve wanted to try, or skill you want to practice? Take initiative and create your own meaningful project! Examples include researching a topic and writing an essay (even submitting it for publication!), learning a new musical instrument or language, trying a new art medium, developing a simple app for mobile devices, and more. Your CLS adviser can help brainstorm ideas!

Build your portfolio

  • A professional website or portfolio can be beneficial in a variety of career fields including art, computer science, design and more. It can be a place to showcase samples of your work, highlight your experience, and act as a hub for all of your professional activities. Consider using a free website such as Wix. Also, keep an eye out for CLS events related to professional website and portfolio building!

Research career fields and majors

  • While a particular major doesn’t have to align with career fields you’re interested in pursuing, it can be helpful to generate ideas using tools such as What Can I Do With This Major? and the results of the CLS Graduate Outcomes Survey (click on a specific major on the left-hand side to see what the employment, education, post-graduate service, and other destinations of our recent graduates).  Our Career Exploration Online Resources page lists many other tools to explore a variety of career fields.
  • Check out our career community pages! Each of our seven career communities has curated lists of resources – exploring these can be a great way to discover new opportunities and interests.

Engage in an assessment

  • Assessments can be a great way to gain insight into your unique interests and strengths, and reflect on your experiences and goals. CLS currently facilitates the Strong Interest Inventory, CliftonStrengths, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). These assessments can be most beneficial for students in their second through fourth years, who have had the opportunity to engage with a variety of course topics and exploration tools. For more information check out the Assessments page.

Identify volunteer and service leadership opportunities

  • Our Civic Education and Innovation staff provide support and resources for how to become a civic change-maker. The Civic Activity at Grinnell pages help you reflect on your personal values and interests, engage with tools and resources and identify opportunities to connect with our campus and community partners.

Explore graduate schools and prep for tests

  • Considering graduate school after Grinnell College? Research different graduate programs and consider what might be the best fit for your interests and goals, what application materials are needed, and what requirements specific programs have for acceptance. Faculty in your area of interest can be a great resource. If a program requires tests such as the GRE, a break period can be a great time to gather test prep materials and resources and get started! A Career Community can provide you with specific tools and guidance, as well.