Holiday break ideal time for students to network

Advisers say it’s time to put career plans in action

Advisers at the Career Center at Washington University in St. Louis are encouraging students to make the most of the upcoming holiday break. The extended time off is a great chance to network and put plans into action, they say.

Career Center advisers recommend students do some self-evaluation, review interests and options, and update their resumes with recent experiences and new skills.

Creating a LinkedIn account — and joining the Washington University Alumni Association LinkedIn group — is a good way to build networks and discover people who share similar interests.

Niche internships

For some students, with “niche,” or special interests, finding an internship or job may seem more challenging. Students with niche interests may not align with the organizations frequently recruiting at career fairs and other events. (This may be due to budgets or the extremely specialized nature of the work.) In these cases, one-on-one career advising, networking events and tools such as LinkedIn can be critical. The Career Center office remains open for advising during the break.

Marc Chagnon, now a senior in Arts & Sciences, says he was on a more traditional path, thinking about the types of companies that might be logistically feasible or that would complement his major, when Career Adviser Amy Heath-Carpentier suggested he re-evaluate his approach.

An avid rock climber, Chagnon ended up securing a summer internship during his junior year at Access Fund, a national advocacy organization that works to keep U.S. climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment.

“Amy first asked me what I was interested in, what I spend my free time doing,” Chagnon says. “She made me realize that I had not even considered internships in the subjects about which I am most passionate.”

Heath-Carpentier encouraged Chagnon to target organizations that interested him and contact them directly for an informational interview. After checking out the Access Fund’s website, reading about its employees and talking to several directors, he inquired about summer internships. “I explained why the Access Fund is important to me, and why I would really like to work for them,” he says.

Over the course of the internship, Chagnon collaborated on a variety of projects, from access issues and policy work to marketing and communications, all related to climbing. “It was a great and educational experience, and I’d like to work for them in the future,” Chagnon says.

Niche internships that highlight specialty interests can provide invaluable experience as students seek their future direction. Reaching out to family and friends during winter break can help spread the word about opportunities that may be of interest.

2012 Internship Book

Chagnon’s profile — and more than 225 student profiles — are detailed in the 2012 Internship Book, mailed home to freshmen, sophomores and juniors this winter break. Students can flip through the book to learn about the wide variety of potential internships. Additional copies of the book are available at the Career Center main office, Danforth University Center, Suite 110. The 2012 Internship Book is also available online at

In addition, the Career Center is hosting several networking events and career fairs this winter break in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York and Los Angeles.

For more information, call the Career Center at 314-935-5930 or visit