Holiday “Gift” Ideas for the College Student

Notepad with open pages and pen on wooden background. Planning goals for the new year.

Many of us think of the holiday season as a time for gift giving. You see promotions online everywhere “Holiday Gift Ideas for fill in the blank“.  As you prepare for your own gift giving, think about the greatest gift you can give yourself. No, it’s not a new car or a puppy. Gift yourself a sense of confidence and readiness for your future. Yes, as career coaches, it is easy for us to suggest taking time over winter break to focus on your career planning. It’s not us this time! Some of your SPH Ambassadors have suggested productive professional development ideas to gift yourself so that you return less overwhelmed and ready for what the future has in store.

SPH Career Coaches
Some of your greatest champions for future success!

Feven Araya, SPH Ambassador
Community Health
Pre-Physician Assistant Track

Ahhhh, finally done with finals the moment we have all been waiting for. I don’t know about you all but going from doing constant assignments and quizzes through the semester to do nothing during Winter Break is a complete shift. I almost feel weird not doing anything school related over break and then getting back from the holidays just to be thrown back in assignments and deadlines. I have finally found a solution after almost 4 years of being a college student at IU. Setting a to do list everyday with the smallest things can help with productivity over break (clean my room, meal prep. etc.). Also taking time on Winter Break to develop myself professionally is essential because I finally have the time to prioritize it.

My personal/professional gift ideas:

  • Update and take headshots at home (have fun with virtual backgrounds)
  • Retake and update personal inventory assessments (might have changed since the last time you have taken one)
  • Update LinkedIn profile
  • Download free Adobe services IU offers and utilize them
  • Take a Winter Intersession course at IU

I hope some of these activities can help you feel productive in a time where not all students feel productive. Hopefully these activities will minimize feelings of overwhelm when it is time to come back from Winter Break.


Ellen Roach, SPH Ambassador
Tourism, Hospitality, & Event Management

In college, the holiday season is meant for relaxing with family and friends. This time is also filled with possible questions of what you are doing for your job and internship come Summer. I was so lucky that the Friday before Thanksgiving break, I got a full time job offer as a Key Account Manager from Beam Suntory come July 2022.

The main takeaway from this experience is that prior/preemptive communication with a company is extremely vital in wanting to stand out to a hiring team. By doing this you could get to know the company culture better and when your name comes up with their hiring team, more than just the people who interviewed you will know who you are.

Prior communication shows initiative, gives you exposure, and lets those people know that you are passionate about wanting to work at their company.

My personal/professional gift idea:

  • Initiate email contact with key employers over winter break.


Annika Steiner, SPH Ambassador
Exercise Science
Pre-Physician Assistant Track

For those of you seeking job opportunities to get a sneak peak of what your future job may be, winter break is the perfect time to investigate! It can be the perfect kickstart to determining where you may want to work over the summer or later in life. Many college students struggle with the idea of  job hunting so why not get ahead of the game! For those of you wanting to go to graduate school in healthcare it is a perfect time to search for jobs that allow you to experience patient care. Those jobs could be PCT, CNA, MA and beyond. It is beneficial to get these jobs early so that you can get your required hours in with plenty of time to spare. Some positions may also be offered as PRN which allows you to work throughout the semester with a manageable minimum requirement of hours.

Winter break is an excellent time to explore graduate school opportunities for your career interests. Being able to search additional places to go and extend your knowledge for what you love while being able to do it in bed sounds relaxing, right! Whether you have thought about graduate school or not, it could be the perfect time to search for the perfect path for you. Applying to graduate school is a tedious process so why not get ahead while you can! Explore programs around you and determine the requirements you need to reach your dreams.

My personal/professional gift ideas:

  • Whether you are planning on going to grad school in healthcare or in a different field, looking ahead and even just peeking at jobs for a year or two away could tremendously decrease your stress for job searching in the future.
  • Compiling a list of programs and requirements is a time-consuming process so why not start over break and ease your stress in the future. If you decide it’s not for you this break, put it on the backburner for the next one but, before you know it application time will be right around the corner!


By Kim Ecenbarger
Kim Ecenbarger SPH Senior Associate Director