Law students around the country are giddily anticipating winter break—and not just because it means finals are over!
Winter break is the perfect time for students to prepare for next semester and the months ahead. So take advantage of these precious weeks off from law school and you’ll come back to campus in January ready to snag that coveted summer internship, work with your favorite professor, or even achieve that ultimate goal: a great postgraduate job.
1. Update your résumé
You have a whole semester of new experiences under your belt; make sure your law school résumé reflects that. Add any internship, externship, clinic, or other practical experience you gained over the semester. Volunteer/pro bono activities and research projects count too! Also add any accolades you earned or student activities you participated in—and don’t forget to note a leadership role if you had one.
Not sure what to include in your résumé or how to format it? Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your law school’s career services office; they can share resources and provide personalized résumé and cover letter review. (There are plenty of examples and lots of advice online with a little searching too!)
Related: How to Write Your Law School Résumé with No Legal Experience
2. Update your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is likely one of the first pages potential employers will see when they search for you online—and they will search for you. So use your newly updated résumé (see tip #1) to make sure your profile is up-to-date.
But you don’t want to just rehash your résumé on your LinkedIn profile; you should follow LinkedIn-specific best practices too: join groups related to your career interests; connect with new classmates, friends, professors, colleagues, and legal professionals you’ve met over the semester; and include a LinkedIn summary that sets you apart among law students.
3. Apply to jobs
Once your résumé and LinkedIn page are in fighting shape, you can use your winter break to further your job search. Block off a few afternoons to research companies and positions, work on cover letters, and apply to jobs or legal internships.
Again, your law school’s career services office should be able to connect you with job search tools—or even recommend positions specifically for you. And they can help you target firms and organizations in your geographic area and legal field of interest. (New England Law students have a go-to job search portal called the Career Advising Network, where they can get matched to opportunities and find lots of advice. The Career Services Office can also provide personalized recommendations and new job alerts as well.)
4. Set up an informational interview
Where do you see yourself in five, ten, or more years? As in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company, a happy new associate—a partner? It’s time to find people in those positions and ask them how they got there.
Spend some time this winter break researching alumni or other attorneys in your practice area and city of choice. You can get recommendations through the alumni office at your law school or even undergraduate college, or you can use the LinkedIn Alumni feature to identify and establish connections with fellow graduates from your undergrad school who are practicing law.
Once you have a list of folks you’d like to connect with, send them a short, respectful email to see if you can set up an informational interview in the new year. (New England Law students can easily connect with alumni through our Career Advising Network or by working with the Career Services Office directly.)
4. Reconnect with old contacts and establish new ones
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with former employers and colleagues, as well as friends and family, in order to wish them well and update them on your academic and career progress.
Use holiday parties to catch up with old friends, relatives, and neighbors, and share your recent experiences, interests, and goals. You never know who has valuable contacts that could lead to internship or job opportunities.
For anyone you might not see in person, like an old boss, send a holiday card with season's greetings and a brief update on what you’ve been up to in law school. You might also suggest a quick coffee or lunch date in the new year.
5. Reflect and plan ahead
Curl up with a cup of cocoa and really think about last semester: What went well? What went poorly? What do you wish you had done differently? What opportunities did you learn about that you’re excited to pounce on next semester? The end of the year is a great time for reflection, and that’s as true for law students as anyone.
Think about your goals for the future and steps you need to achieve them too. Mark important dates on your calendar, like networking events on campus you don’t want to miss. Think about ways to strengthen your time management techniques. Reach out to a friend to be your “accountability buddy” so you can help each other stay on track with studying or even maintaining healthy habits.
It’s never too late to make plans, set goals, and develop good habits.
Last but hardly least, winter break is your chance to catch up on a little rest and relaxation so that you feel rejuvenated upon your return to campus. Sleep in, catch up on your favorite TV shows, do some non-law school related reading, and spend quality time with your family and friends.
Best of luck and have a happy and productive winter break!
Learn more about how our Career Services Office helps law students all year long.