Setting New Year’s resolutions can sometimes feel like a trap. Eating only salads, giving up Starbucks, going to bed before eleven o’clock: These are pipe dreams for many of us. However, there are some things that you can knock out not only in the first week of the New Year, but in the first day.
Here are just a few of the fastest, easiest New Year’s resolutions for college students and recent grads:
1. Revamp Your Resume (30 Minutes)
This is a task you could theoretically spend hours and hours on, but the reality of the situation is: It’s more about the content than the style. If you’ve gotten advice from a manager or a career counselor before on your resume, then you’re probably just going to need a tuneup. Put your latest accomplishments and extracurriculars on it, update the dates, and then get ready to put into application systems.
2. Update Your Online Profiles (30 Minutes)
This should be very quick. Use a nice, recent photo. If you don’t have one, put on a nice top and get someone to take a picture of you (Portrait Mode, please!) in front a neutral background. Think you sitting in front a blank wall—but smiling like you’re about to accept an award!
These are frequently checked by recruiters, so just make sure they are up to date. If you don’t have any yet, start here.
3. Ask For References/Recommendation Letters (20 minutes)
This is really the easiest one on the list, because mostly everyone you ask (nicely) will say yes. Think of your favorite professors, TAs, managers, and even family friends if you’re desperate. If you’ve ever had a debate team coach, camp supervisor, or any other responsible adult who believes in you, then you’re all set.
For people with whom you’ve got a closer relationship, send them a text or even give them a call. For professors and managers whom you’ve got a more businesslike acquaintance with, send them a brief, friendly email.
Let them know you’re starting the year off right by applying to jobs or internships and you’d love it if you could list them as a reference. Say it’s because you admire them as a professional/person/whatever and you really value their opinion.
Don’t overthink this ask. It’s very simple and shouldn’t be more than three brief paragraphs.
SUBJECT LINE: Hi from [Your Name]
Hi, Professor Blankfield:
Hope your holidays went well. I’m hoping to start off my New Year right by kicking off the job/internship search.
I’m contacting you because I really admire you, enjoyed working with/studying under you, and hope that you enjoyed it, too.
Would you mind if I listed you as a reference on my job/internship application? I would really appreciate it.
[Here’s where you can ask for their contact info, if you don’t already have it.]
If you’d prefer to speak to me before moving forward with this or need anything else on my end, please let me know. Thanks so much for your time and consideration.
All the best,
That’s just one example, but if you want to copy it word for word, then go ahead!
4. Start The Job Search (30 Minutes)
Luckily, while you’re waiting for those references and recommendation letters to start rolling in, there are plenty of jobs and internships that do NOT require them. Find a bunch of those jobs and start making a list of jobs you want to apply to.
If you see ones along the way that do require them, still make note of them and wait for the recommendations to come in before sending in your applications. If they have a deadline that ends very soon, then try using a family friend or closer adult acquaintance whom you’re comfortable asking to move faster on a letter.
Part of looking for a job is to decide what you really want. If you don’t do this, then your job search can be painfully aimless. If you need help figuring out what you really want, check this out.
5. Apply To (At Least) One Job/Internship (20 Minutes)
This might seem like the Herculean task at the end of a long road—but it’s really not.
The truth is, no matter how badly you want a job or an internship, most applications are just a small leap of faith that you have to just take. Small adjustments to your cover letter, resume, and online profiles can help, but they are just that: small.
Once you’ve prepared a resume, online profile, and gotten some references in order, then just do it.
Write a brief cover letter and apply to the job. It’s as simple as that—and it’s a huge step in the right direction.
Just Don’t Stop Applying
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Can I really check off everything on this list in a single morning?” The answer is: Absolutely, yes. If you find yourself spending more than an hour on any of these, you’re taking too much time and need to make decisions faster.
Altogether, the actual work of this stuff should only take 2 hours and change. That leaves the other hour or so of the morning for some other stuff.
You can earmark this extra hour for a couple of things: your natural human tendency to triple-check stuff related to job applications, your need to snack, the very high likelihood you need to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I got this,” between every one of these steps.
Whether it’s January 1st or the 21st night of September when you’re reading this, it’s never too late to start on some self-improving goals. (In fact, if you’re that late, just think of yourself as starting early on your 2020 goals. Silver linings!)