Set Yourself Up for Long-Term Success. This article is sponsored by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Congratulations! You are halfway through the academic year, and it’s finally time for a well-deserved break. Whether you have exciting travel plans, will spend the break with family and friends or will put in hours to save money for next semester, we are excited to share a few easy ways that you can work ahead during this holiday break to advance your career goals (without sacrificing all the holiday fun). If you are a freshman: Spend time relaxing and recharging. You’ve earned it! Reflect on the academic experiences and personal journeys of your first semester. How have they changed your perspective? Fine tune your interests and find new classes or coursework to explore in the spring. If you are a sophomore: Start thinking about professional experiences like internships, volunteer opportunities, leadership roles within on-campus organizations that are aligned with your academic goals and professional aspirations. Make a list of target companies or organizations that have internship programs for the coming summer. Set a calendar reminder to schedule an appointment with your university’s career center to start working on your internships search strategies, resume and cover letter writing techniques, or take an assessment like a Myers Briggs to learn more about your natural strengths and tendencies. If you are a junior: Start thinking about how graduate school might align with your personal and professional goals. Explore various MBA programs through online research and have conversations with current graduate students and admissions staff. Most MBA programs have student ambassadors who can share real-life experiences. Research different standardized testing options (GMAT, GRE) and start thinking about the best approach and test timing for your study style. Draft a study plan for the spring semester with the goal of taking the standardized test the summer before senior year. If you are a senior: Enjoy your last official holiday break! Take the GRE or GMAT if you haven’t already done so, or retake it if you want to improve your score. Start preparing your application to a deferred MBA program (for example, the Future Year Scholars Program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business!) Put together a plan for teaming up with your school’s career center this spring to hone interviewing and networking skills and learn what opportunities there are to engage with alumni at career fairs or local events. Once you have applied to a deferred enrollment MBA program, you can also leverage that program’s global alumni network. Reflect on your accomplishments, experiences and friendships – but don’t forget to look toward the future. The world awaits! An Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Taylor Fisher has worked alongside undergraduate students and MBA applicants since 2017, coaching them through the complex MBA landscape. An avid music lover and traveler, Taylor can often be found singing along to catchy tunes or sampling local eats on his latest adventure.