It’s MBA Winter Break: ‘Get Busy!’

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

A multiple-choice question: This winter break, an exhausted MBA student should:

A. Sleep in, play lots of computer games, catch up on a favorite TV series, and try to replenish energies sapped to near-extinction by schoolwork, club duties, and recruiting.

B. Suck it up and take advantage of the free time – woohoo, no school! – to connect with old friends, fight with family members, and drink during the daytime.

C. Fly away to a warm place – after all, it’s winter, and furthermore, this may be the last chance for a tropical sojourn before a new job consumes your life and soul.

D. Get cracking on the job search, lazybones!

Answer: D, but don’t give up entirely on A, B, and C.

Cynthia Saunders-Cheatham, Cornell Johnson

Cynthia Saunders-Cheatham, Cornell Johnson

At least that’s the kind of answer you’d get from Cynthia Saunders-Cheatham, director of the career center at the Cornell University Johnson School of Management. Winter break provides a perfect opportunity for some career planning and forging of inroads into target companies and industries, Saunders-Cheatham says. However, among MBA candidates, such a use of the holiday is far from universal. “A lot of them are not leveraging their time in that way,” Saunders-Cheatham says. “This is a time to really map out a strategy for what you want to do with your off-campus search.”


While it’s true that many businesspeople in students’ networking sights may be out of the office for the holidays, some of those people stick it out till closer to Christmas, and may be reachable, she says. And most potential company contacts will be back behind their desks quite some time before students return to school. Touching base with company and industry representatives, particularly recruiters, during or around the holidays to arrange informational interviews can yield benefits when just-in-time positions are to be filled, she says. “You learn more about the opportunities out there and how you might position yourself for those opportunities, and when those opportunities come around in the spring, you’ll be front of mind with the recruiters and the hiring managers,” she says.