How First Years Spend Winter Break

Finals are over! One semester is done! It’s winter break!

Wait, not so fast….

There are a few lucky first year students who scored their internship offers last summer, this fall, or came in sponsored by their employer. However, for the majority of the first year class, summer is a giant black box.

In a class of people who love having certainty and low risk, the summer internship experience can easily become an endless process of networking and preparation.

With this in mind, there seem to be three types of person who approach winter break. Type I spends a few glorious weeks traveling the globe and distancing all thoughts of homework and career far from their mind. Type II, on the other hand, goes home to New York, California, Chicago, Japan, … and spends the “holiday” case prepping, researching companies, writing cover letters, and meeting with local employers. Then there’s Type III, which we could also call Type 1.5, who is a blend. Type III planned an amazing, ten-day international trip a few months ago before they realized how much work recruiting could still take up. They either figured it was too late to back out or thought “when will I get to go to [India, China, Brazil, Antarctica] if not now?” (Answer: second year).  I would guess that at least 80% of the class is Type II or III. This doesn’t seem to catch anyone by surprise. By the time December rolls around, everyone is aware that winter break will be similar to the semester but in a new location and without classes.

Winter break can also be a lot of fun. It’s a great time to pick up those winter boots or down jacket that you’ve never needed before. I personally got a new digital camera and am pouring through the manual and online forums (you know, instead of just going out and using it). I also used the time to catch up with several old friends who I haven’t seen in years. My mingling skills have clearly improved with all of the practice over the semester. In bold anticipation of being done with recruiting by then, I am also planning spring break (which will be my first REAL holiday at Wharton).

In short, winter break is, in fact, a break in the sense that it gives you time to focus on the things that matter to you – hobbies, friends, career, etc. – without the pressure of classes. By the same note, it can still be extremely busy and stressful, and lean more towards the professional end of the spectrum than the relaxing one. If you plan ahead and get things done before the break, you can easily have time to enjoy an international trek or catching up on that book you’ve been meaning to read all semester.


To all of the first round admits: congratulations! Celebrate your winter holiday in style. Know that when you choose Wharton it will be amazing and everyone around you should know it.

To all of the second round applicants: hang in there! Know that 80% of the class of 2015 is right there with you writing cover letters and brushing up our resumes. You’re in good company. So get that application done!