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Stomping the Yard

4 Ways to Maximize Your Winter Break

Calling all college students!  Our new weekly column, Stomping the Yard, aims to help undergrads excel in their studies and social lives.  JETmag.com’s team of experts will show you how to get it done from the day you move into the dorms to the minute you step off campus for that first job. Submit questions and feedback for The Yard via digitalpitches@ebony.com.

In a little over a week, many college students will be entering finals and exiting campus doors headed for a month-long winter break. While this might seem like the perfect time to kick back, put your feet up, and share a few laughs with friends and family, this is also the time to give back, and start making some strategic moves that will pay off in the new year.

1. Volunteer in Your Community 

During this time of year, there is no shortage of food drives, coat drives, toy drives, and other community activities to help give support to needy families. Even major companies like Toyota sponsor programs such as “Walk in My Boots” to provide warm footwear to children in need. Getting involved in a community service project not only makes you feel good, but it also makes you look good. Your involvement in these activities will look great on a resume, especially if a company you want to work for sponsors the events.

If you’re unable to find a service project that’s meaningful to you, be proactive and create one. Doing so will show that you really care about the community and will demonstrate your leadership skills.  You can get corporate sponsorship for this as well. Companies like Cricket Wireless routinely sponsor community events that are family focused and help communities in need.

2. Brand Yourself

What’s even better than a resume to highlight your accomplishments? A website! Summer break might be five months away, but now is the time to start getting a jump on the competition for internships and summer jobs. If you choose to get involved in a community project, what better way to document it than on a website/platform that you own?

You can start building your personal brand for less than $20 with a personal domain from DomainMe (example: yourname.me) and a free website template from Wix. Start documenting your accomplishments now and by the time summer rolls around, your application will not only be distinctive, but impressive.

3. Upgrade Your Technology

Every semester, thousands of students (and teachers) find themselves heartbroken over lost or stolen USB Drives.  Just the other day my colleague lamented, “My whole life is on that flash drive…”  Save yourself the headache of losing essays and other important documents by downloading free cloud storage apps such as Evernote and Dropbox. Not only do these applications download seamlessly onto your computer, but the moment you hit “save,” the document syncs to an app on your phone, so that your work is always with you.

In my classes, I’ve noticed that more students are giving up their tiny smartphones in favor of more “tablet size” devices like the Nokia Lumia 1320, which doubles as a phone and a tablet. This way they can access documents in class, save PDFs, and download assignments.  Just make sure your teacher knows that you’re using the device for class and not to update your Facebook status.

4. Earn Some Extra Cash

During the holidays, hundreds of companies hire seasonal help in order to accommodate the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. This year, FedEx expects to ship as many as 290 million boxes between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, and will hire additional workers starting as high as $12 an hour.  Take advantage of the resurging economy and earn some extra money for holiday hangouts with friends and paying for books once you return to campus.

Just because classes won’t be in session, doesn’t mean your goals should go into hibernation. With a little forethought, you can maximize your winter vacay and go into 2015 with some momentum.

Shante-Bishop

Getting TO college is one thing; Getting THROUGH college is quite another. That’s why Dr. Shante’ Bishop offers strategic advice on being successful both in and out of the classroom. From catalogs to cap and gown, Professor Bishop shares what it takes to ‘Stomp the Yard” with confidence and clarity! You can follow Dr. Bishop on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.