How to Take a Break and Get Ahead: Winter Session Recap

Overwhelmed with the amount of free time on your hands during the lengthy winter vacations we get here at UD? To those opposed to kicking back by the cozy fire, there’s actually a lot that can be accomplished in just two short months.

I, personally, couldn’t let the opportunity of UD’s winter session pass me by. Whether you’re trying to get ahead, boost your GPA, or coordinate for a double major, taking winter classes is an extremely beneficial thing to do. If you still want to be in the comfort of your own home over the winter months, then why not take online classes? UD allows students to register up to 7 credits during the winter session. I filled my schedule solely with online courses.

Online classes are designed to appeal to a mallorymdiverse range of learners. This is largely due to the fact that they are generally self-paced. I’ve always been more of an impatient, fast-paced learner and taking online classes allows me to work as far ahead as I can. I took a one-credit communications elective this past winter in which I completed all of the course material within the first week. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, online classes can also allow you to take your time more so than you might be able to when attending an actual lecture.

Enrolling in UD Winter online gave me more flexibility in my schedule to return to my seasonal retail positions at the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I worked as a sales associate at Harstrings Kids Clothing and a Brand Representative at Justice For Girls. Whether it’s greeting customers at the door, ringing them up at the cashwrap, or assisting them on the floor, both of these positions have helped me enhance my communications and PR skills by promoting both merchandise and sales.

It just so happened that while I was working at Justice this past winter, they were undergoing renovation. We had to ship out thousands of units of merchandise to stores across the U.S. to make room for construction. I obtained experience communicating with sales girls across the country about which types of merchandise would be most beneficial to their stores. I also obtained experience communicating with girls at my location on how to coordinate with the temporary and tight space that we had. I’ll be eagerly returning this spring to see our final product.

Returning to campus after Winter Session didn’t feel like I was just getting off of vacation and that’s great because that’s not what I was going for. I felt accomplished.

By: Mallory Metzner

Mallory Metzner is a freshman communication interest and fashion merchandising double major with minors in journalism, business administration and Spanish. She currently serves as a competitive member of the UD intercollegiate figure skating team, learn-to-skate teacher at the UD Fred Rust Ice Arena, crew member of the Student TV Network 49 News, writer for the UDRESS fashion magazine, public relations team member for UDRESS, and a general member for PRSSA-UD. Follow her on Twitter, @MaleePaytatweet.

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#UDPRIntern: 4 Tips For The End of Winter Session

As time races forward toward the coming semester, my winter session dreams begin to dwindle. No longer am I able to brag that my possibilities are draped out like clothes on a line, just waiting to be experienced over winter session. Now mother hen is calling us back in for the “serious” stuff…classes. Oh yeah…and graduation.

As I ponder the eight months of winter session I’ve experienced during my four years at UD (yes, you read that right), I fall back into that all-too-familiar notion that I hope I didn’t waste it, especially because this is probably the last time I’ll ever be able to say I’m on a two month vacation (cue the graduation jitters).

We all know what awaits us when we return to campus: “What did you do over winter session?” You now have exactly 15 seconds to explain how you did NOT waste your time, maybe throw in something meaningful or fun in there, too, so they don’t think you’re boring and just worked the whole time. Want to practice? After the first year of totally getting this wrong, sitting and twirling my thumbs for two months at home, I started to get the hang of this make-the-most-of-your-time thing, and how to look back and remember the highlights.

So here’s my advice.

1) It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Sure, there’s pressure to find that perfect internship that will lead to you getting hired by your dream company in your dream location doing the absolutely most fabulous job ever! But let’s be real, that doesn’t always happen (and that’s okay!). What’s important is that you get out there and obtain some experience. If you did that, give yourselves a big pat on the back. And if not, there’s always next year!

2) No experience will be worthless.

It doesn’t matter if it’s serving at your local restaurant, editing a school paper or interning at the big firm in NYC. If you have an open mind and a creative eagerness to learn, you will always grow. So you spent your winter session taking orders at a bagel shop, well that’s sure communication experience right there! You probably learned how to handle difficult customers, how to please large parties and how to solve problems as they arise. If you can articulate what you learned from your time, then it will be useful. Don’t be shy to use even the oddest experience as just that…experience! It could even help you stand out in a crowd of resumes.

3) Winter Session is never actually wasted.

Though I’d be the first to admit I was not so great at utilizing my time freshman year, I wouldn’t call that time wasted. I learned that breaks are only good for so long. The first few weeks of sleeping late, watching movies and baking constantly were great, but then it faded. I learned that it is important to be working toward something, to have a goal, even if it’s simply trying to make one person smile each day. And finally, I learned that I didn’t want to “waste” winter session ever again – and I haven’t.

4) Don’t forget to have fun.

I know this is valuable time. People are always going to be drilling the fact that it’s prime-time for internships or fellowships or shadowing, blah, blah, blah. Yes, they’re right, but don’t forget: it’s called a BREAK for a reason! We can’t be expected to sit around and work all the time, can we? Take some time for yourself, explore a new place, make some friends, try to positively impact someone’s day – everyday. It just might give you a new outlook on life and help you to understand the world from someone else’s point of view.

So I guess they’re right, I won’t have a two-month break after graduation (unless I don’t find a job…oh boy), but if we each make an effort to experience all that winter session can be, we’ll have incredible experiences and memories to draw back on for the rest of our lives.

By: Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is a senior with a double major in Mass Communications and Political Science and a minor in History. She is also a part of the Honors program. In addition to her involvement in PRSSA-UD, Rachel is a leader in the Baptist Student Ministry on campus. She is currently completing an internship in marketing and public relations with the Ocean Pines Association in Ocean Pines, Maryland.

#UDPRIntern: #UDWinter At Home– Not Boring When You’re Exploring

Recently, my social media feeds have been chock-full of study abroad pictures, tweets about UD’s first snowfall of 2015 and the top ten reasons to spend winter session at Delaware. But what about all of those students reading social updates from their living rooms? What about everyone that opted not to pack up their bags, go abroad, or just go back to the land of the Fightin’ Blue Hens?

I never thought I would be one of those people that chose to come home and stay home from mid-December to mid-February. Until I was.

When I made my decision to stay put for the entirety of winter session, I received mixed feedback from my family and friends. Because UD’s break is pretty unique, people who have never heard of winter session can’t understand why it even exists. They don’t see the point of giving college students extra time off when almost every other university is back in session while we still have five weeks to go. Some people assumed that, like most college students with typical-length breaks, I would sit at home and take time to relax…except for two months rather than one.

Little do these people know that winter session is far from a time to gloat about how you are spending two months on the couch instead of in the classroom. Winter session allows people to explore a new country while knocking out some breadth requirements along the way. Winter session enables people get a broader education by offering classes students wouldn’t normally take. To put it simply, the goal of winter session is to allow the UD community to explore what other opportunities are out there.

paxton1This winter, I chose to explore professional development from the comfort of my own home. I have two internships, both within public relations and social media marketing-related fields, to obtain experience doing the work I love. I am compiling a list of PR firms that have internship programs matching my interests, and I have a list of Delaware alumni I want to reach out to before February. In my free time, I have a reading list of books I’m making my way through on effective engagement and professionalism. I even finally launched my own blog!

 

I barely have any time to sit on the couch and binge-watch Friends, and I am totally okay with that.

Like myself, PRSSA members choosing to stay home this winter have the chance to explore and apply themselves towards achieving their post-graduation dreams. From home, PR students can gain valuable experience in the industry through a winter internship. There is also no better time to get ahead on networking and developing a personal branding strategy; both become much harder to make a priority once classes begin. And with a clear personal voice in mind, students can get ahead on summer internship applications, knowing their unique voice sets them apart from other candidates. paxton2

I don’t regret that I’m not posting pictures of me jumping off a cliff in Hawaii, or that I’m typing this up on my desk instead of in the Trabant Lounge. I, along with my fellow aspiring public relations professionals, choose to have clear-cut goals and tactics I can take on at home. I am broadening my horizons, sharpening my skillset, and preparing to tackle whatever opportunities come my way this winter session and beyond.

Now excuse me as I take a selfie of myself writing this and post it using #UDWinter. My social media audience needs to know that I’m at home this winter, and I’m going exploring.

By: Paxton Mittleman

Paxton Mittleman is a sophomore communication interest and English double major who is passionate about public relations and social media marketing.  When she’s not attending PRSSA meetings, Paxton is tweeting from her @BlueHenPaxton Social Media Ambassador account, volunteering with the sisters of Gamma Sigma Sigma, or planning events as a Senior Fellow for the UD Honors Program.