6 Different Ways to Take Advantage of Your Winter Break

By Rachael Vruggink

Welcome to the holiday break, the most wonderful time of the year. After months of classes, weeks of final projects, and hours of studying, it’s finally time to close your books and spend some time with the ones you love. With over 3 weeks of break this holiday season, we know you’ll have some major downtime.

Here are six suggestions on how to kill those extra hours with some career-strengthening, professional-development-enlightening activities:

1. Hubspot Certification:

When the weather outside is frightful, what better way to keep your brain cells firing with a little learnin’? Hubspot.com—home to great marketing insight and tools for many a marketing team—offers a number of free online courses to introduce you to the concepts of inbound marketing, email marketing, and content marketing, just to name a few. You can find their whole list of classes on their site: https://academy.hubspot.com/certification.

2. Google AdWords Certification:

More and more advertising dollars are being spent on digital advertising. If you want to be ahead of the game (and also know what the heck you’re talking about in your internship or job) it would be smart to look into becoming Google Adwords Certified. The certification process is free, but you do need to sign up for a Google Partners Account, which you can get a step-by-step guide to, here. Once you’ve got your Google Partners Account set-up and ready to rock, you can begin studying for one of the six exams: AdWords Fundamentals, Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising, or Shopping Advertising. To be eligible for the certification, you must pass the AdWords Fundamentals and one of the other 5 five exams of your choosing. Study guides for the exams can be found here.

Google Course Descriptions

3. Check out Coursera:

Another continuing education option for your holiday: Coursera, an online hub filled with courses for whatever your little noggin’ is hoping to learn. Fair warning, these are actual courses from universities all around the world that cost cash and also may take more than your break to finish. However, if you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into and finish up as you get into the new semester, this could be a fantastic resource for you. Every class is different, so poke around, see what they’ve got, and do your thing. The first place to start, perhaps, is the general advertising classes. However, there are a variety of offerings for classes on virtual/augmented reality, social media marketing, and digital marketing. Just talking about it, I feel smarter already.   

4. Start/Clean Up Your Portfolio:

Whether you’re graduating in the spring or you’re looking for an internship in 2017, having an updated, sharp-looking portfolio is a must. Take some time to rewrite your resume or LinkedIn profile, or heck, maybe even set up your own microsite dedicated to everything you’ve had your hands on. Even cleaning up old classwork to make it show ready is a great time-suck if you’re looking to keep yourself occupied. Cleaning up your classwork is an even better use of time if you’re considering entering it into the Addys!

5. Prepare Your Addy Entry:

Hard to believe we are only two months away from the this year’s Addys! Where has the time gone? If you’re unfamiliar with the Addys, here’s a quick rundown: The American Advertising Federation Awards (known as the Addys) is a national competition recognizing the amazing work of advertising pros around the country. In January, our friends from the AdFed will begin accepting submissions from students and professionals that want to enter in this year’s competition. After everything has been entered, a group of professionals will be flown in to judge the work, deciding who wins gold, silver, and bronze. The winners of our local competition will then go on to the regional District 6 competition. If your work is the bee’s-knees and everybody knows it, it might just go on to nationals, where it could win another Gold Addy. If you want to enter, you can find that information on the AAF website at www.aafwmi.org.

Another killer opportunity? VOLUNTEER and work alongside the AdFed to prepare for the judging and shows. Oddly enough, I always recommend volunteering at this event as a great networking opportunity, as the Addys pull talent and volunteers from agencies all around town. With so much work to do, there are tons of days and times you can pitch in. And the more you can sign-up for, the better. 10 hours of volunteering gets you a free ticket to the Gala.  

6. Take An Actual Break:

Last but not least, this suggestion is one I hope everyone takes to heart. Yes, it is important to be actively looking for ways to improve yourself, your understanding, and your portfolio. But what’s more important?

Taking care of yourself.

Many of us have been go-go-go since the semester started. Between balancing school, jobs, extracurriculars and whatever else you’ve signed yourself up for, finding time to relax may seem impossible. Use your break to spend time with the people who you care about most. Watch too much Netflix. Stay up way too late (and regret it when you have to go back to adulting).

On top of staying productive, rest and relaxation will do you good. You’ve worked hard, now nap hard too. And Happy Holidays!

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