Take a few minutes during break to plan ahead for the spring and set yourself up for success. Siora Photography on Unsplash Winter break is almost here! That means many of us will be decompressing after the whirlwind of this semester. But during the break, it’s not too early to start thinking about your professional goals and start planning, especially if you are set to graduate this spring. If you find yourself with some down time over break, here are some easy ways to get started on professional development planning. Set goals The beginning of the new year is a great time to start mapping out your career goals for 2020. Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP), a self-evaluation tool which includes goal setting for research projects, skills development, and career planning. View the template here. You can also schedule an individual consultation with GradPro to get more detailed guidance. Imagine PhD is an online career planning tool for students in the humanities and social sciences. You can map out your goals in five areas: degree completion, career development, skill development, personal development and money/funding. MyIDP is a planning tool for students in the sciences and includes self-assessment, identifying which scientific career path is best for you, and setting goals. Start planning for conference travel and networking Conferences are great opportunities to network and build contacts before you graduate. Beyond Academia will hold its annual conference at UC Berkeley February 27-28. This event includes over 100 Ph.D. speakers who successfully transitioned from academia to private industry, non-profit organizations, secondary education, and government sectors. If you are a Master’s student, check out professional associations such as the American Planning Association (APA) or the National Lawyers Guild, and add their conferences to your calendar. Berkeley also offers grants for conference travel for Ph.D., M.S., and M.A. students. Explore career paths by doing informational interviews Start connecting with alumni for informational interviews. This is a great way to network while also deciding what your next career step should be. Start by looking at UC Berkeley alumni profiles on Handshake or Linkedin, or ask your department how to connect with alumni. Take advantage of everything the Career Center offers! Browse jobs and upcoming career events on Handshake, or schedule an appointment with a Career Center advisor. Build skills through online learning Winter break is a great time to learn a new skill or catch up on an online webinar. Berkeley has institutional memberships to various valuable online resources, including LinkedIn Learning for online videos covering software, technology, business, creative skills, and much more. Mark your calendar for upcoming events in the spring Think about presenting your work at Grad Slam! Grad Slam is a campuswide competition where you present your research to a large audience for the chance to win cash prizes. Start thinking about your elevator pitch before the due date of February 17, 2020. Save the date for upcoming Career Center fairs to learn about the full range of careers available to you. STEM Career & Internship Fair: January 29-30 Environmental Design (CED) Career Fair: February 13 Winter Career & Internship Fair: February 19 Nonprofit, Education, & Public Service Career Fair: March 10 Environment & Sustainability Career Fair: March 10 Spring Career & Internship Fair: April 15 Whether you do one or all of the above, working on professional development over winter break will give you a head start before another busy semester! For more resources, check out the GradPro website. Ashvini Malshe is a graduate student in Journalism at UC Berkeley, and a Professional Development Liaison (PDL) with the Graduate Division.