Your winter break is more than time to eat cookies and play video games. Having a month off is your opportunity to gain identity capital by making an investment in who you are now or who you might be next. Investments of time that build transferable skills, your knowledge of your strengths and interests, or your capacity to engage in professional communities that interest you all add to your identity capital, since they can be used to gain access to new opportunities.

My first semester at college I did nothing to build my identity capital. I went to class, did my homework, spent time with friends. My second semester I felt as if I needed to be doing more than just going through the motions. I started reading more non-fiction books, began an internship, was hired to be on the Green Fund, and committed to studying abroad in Greece for the summer. My position on the Green Fund allowed me to attend the Association for Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education where I met the National Field Organizer for a grassroots organization. The organizer was impressed with my work and offered me a paid position in DC this summer. My initiative to build my identity capital is paving the road to my future dream job.

Below are just a few ways you can build your identity capital:

  1. Schedule an informational interview or job shadow

Does your best friend’s parent work in the same industry you would like to? You can invite them to an informational interview at lunch or coffee to hear about how they worked their way to their position now. Also, you can job shadow a professional to see what the daily duties would be like. You can decide from the information you learned if you would like to continue pursuing a job in that industry.

  1. Update your resume

If you haven’t updated your resume since your first job in high school, winter break provides a full month for you to really focus on the details. If you meet someone interesting at those long dinner parties your family always throws, you will have an updated resume ready to send them that night.

Check out the NAU Career Development website for tips on your resume.

  1. Read a book

Have you ever wanted to know more about the Civil War or why the book Pride and Prejudice is so popular? Check out the library and see what there is to read. You never know who might be reading the same book that sparks a conversation and leads to new networking opportunities.  Creating new connections can enhance your weak ties and open new doors for future prospects.

  1. Set goals

Your goals can be small, like making sure to send out thank-you letters in a reasonable amount of time, or large, like committing to a certain GPA for next semester. Proactively achieving your goals can aid in building your overall brand. When talking with someone you hope to work for one day or in an interview, you will often be asked about your goals and what you did to achieve them. Having a solid answer with concrete examples will demonstrate your motivational and organization skills.

  1. Volunteer

Building your resume with volunteer opportunities can be perfect for those with a resume that does not quite fill a page yet. Volunteer work also builds transferable skills that employers look for, as well help you discover your strengths and interests.


Take time this winter break to do more than see how many series you can watch on Netflix. Come back to campus next semester as an improved version of yourself.

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