By Vickie Elmer
Spring break seems like a great time to savor life and sunshine and the joy of no school or work commitments. But those who want an <a data-cke-saved-href="http://aol.careerbuilder.com/jobs/keyword/intern/?siteid=cbaol95int" href="http://aol.careerbuilder.com/jobs/keyword/intern/?siteid=cbaol95int" "="">internship</a> or a <a data-cke-saved-href="http://aol.careerbuilder.com/?siteid=cbaol95int" href="http://aol.careerbuilder.com/?siteid=cbaol95int">new job</a> soon may want to keep the momentum and opportunities swimming along, even during their vacation.</p><p></p>
That doesn't mean skipping the R&R, road trip or just time away from your normal daily routines. Instead, mix it up on spring break -- with beach time, bar time and career time, whether you're spending time with fraternity brothers to Negril, Jamaica, or your three kids at grandma's favorite zoo. (After all, bars serve up beer and they keep bears at bay, but they shouldn't bar you from your next job opportunity.)
The key is to come up with strategies for some career activities that you can do from Cancun, Austin or at home. If you're heading home for break, when you run into someone you haven't seen recently, "take the conversation one step further," and find out about their career, suggests Holly Paul, U.S. recruiting leader for PwC, a major accounting and consulting firm. Find out where they've worked in the past and whether they know anyone in the field where you hope to plant yourself. Make sure you have an email address so you can follow up with them too.
Here's four other ways to combine career and fun during spring break:
1. If you're going away, pack a suit and your business cards. It may make sense to carry a few resumes too. They could come in handy if you decide to go to a local networking event, or land a Skype interview that must happen immediately. They also could be useful if you discover a venture capitalist on vacation and want to pitch your business idea, or yourself as an intern.
2. Work virtually on your connections. Develop your LinkedIn profile and start adding more people you know. Reach out to those individuals whom you know -- starting with your parents and neighbors. Or drop emails to your former bosses, and connections from volunteer or paid projects, to update them on your plans and ask for connections. PTA parents and Scout volunteers can turn into professional connections as easily as former bosses at IBM or GM.
Plan ahead for a coffee or conversation. Set up one good appointment ahead of time. Ask your alumni association or career center for names of graduates in your field or in the geography where you'll spend your week away. Or track down recruiters or others who could help open doors. Talk to them about the industry trends. If they seem very interested in you, you might ask to shadow them for an afternoon, Paul suggested. "This is a great opportunity to see what that company is like" and to cultivate connections there.
Build your personal brand. Take some time to consider where you shine -- and how you want to be known. PwC has a series of assessments and videos that help people see their passions and strengths and start to "differentiate themselves," said Paul. This helps students and others understand what they're good at and how to create an elevator pitch. Use this clear picture to sharpen your resume and your email signature, too.
You could do many of these by setting aside a couple of hours a day during your trip -- maybe even the hours your fraternity brothers or kids are still asleep. That will leave plenty of time for savoring the sunshine and fun times.
Just be careful what photos you post online afterward; that recruiter may want to see more about your professionalism than your pool pranks.
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