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Career Development Tips for a Productive Winter Break (Parents of 1st-3rd year students)

December 10, 2019
Parents of 1st-3rd Year Students
Everette Fortner, Associate Vice President, UVA Career Center

Dear Parents,

Winter break is such a relief for many college students after a semester packed full of coursework, participation in student organizations, and finals. During this very important break from these demands, students often begin to consider their future goals, and questions like these often begin to surface:

How do I create or improve my resume?

What summer experience will improve my chances of working for the company or organization of my dreams?

What career pathways exist for my intended major or current major?

What are some ways I can learn a new skill and get a competitive edge?

Below are four ways that students can use winter break to feel empowered and help ease any stress related to the questions above:

Resume Updates

Winter break is a great time for students to create or refresh their resumes, saving them time during the semester when classes start to pick back up. Our Hoos Career Guide provides ample information and is especially helpful to students who are completely new to creating a resume. Our resumes overview page, and resume samples page also provides helpful information and examples to help get them on the right track. Our Resume Myths episode from the new Work in Progress podcast helps clarify and debunk common misconceptions around resumes.

In addition to these resources, we have a new online resume review tool, VMock, which leverages data science, machine learning, and natural language processing to provide instant personalized feedback. When students upload their resume, the platform assesses components such as action verbs, format, and how well the five core competencies (analytical, communication, leadership, teamwork and initiative) are reflected in their document.

Reflect on Their Interest, Values, and Strengths

The Career Center’s mission is to engage and support students in the discovery and pursuit of meaningful lives. That’s why we believe strongly in students giving themselves space and time to reflect on their goals, interests, values, skills, and strengths. To start this process students can take advantage of our new online self-assessment tool, PathwayU. This unique tool provides clarity on career pathways that exist based on their interests and values.

Our office also offers many other self-assessments, and we encourage all students to meet with a career counselor to help them interpret their results. This helps ensure that they fully understand the information and our counselors can help recommend additional resources. We also offer many other online resources that can help students explore various career fields.

Learn a New Skill

Winter break can provide a great time for students to learn a new skill. The Career Center recently partnered with Coursera, to provide free 100% online and self-paced courses. These courses include Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management, and Foundations of Business Strategy from our Career-Ready Collection, and Business Transformation with Google Cloud from the Google Collection. The Career Center and many other UVA offices also offer a wide variety of additional options throughout the year that we encourage each student to take advantage of!


Networking through informational interviews over break can help students expand their professional network and help them learn more about the different career options that may be of interest to them. The Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM) platform helps connect students directly with UVA alumni, and is an incredible resource for students exploring various career fields.

We hope these resources will empower your student in the career exploration process. For more personalized support, students can always schedule a phone or in-person appointments throughout winter break (our office will be closed from Dec. 23-Jan. 1) by calling our office at 434-924-8900 or booking an appointment online via Handshake. When students return from break, they can also stop by Monday-Friday from 1-5 p.m. at our two drop-in locations (Newcomb Hall and 1515 University Ave.) for additional support.

On behalf of the UVA Career Center team, we wish you and your family a happy holiday season and look forward to welcoming your student back in the new year!

Everette Fortner
Associate Vice President of Career and Professional Development
University of Virginia Career Center