The first time I heard about internships over winter break, I was actually a little surprised. How much experience can you possibly get during the span of just a few weeks? As it turns out, winter break is great for internships because you have so much more time to devote to what you're doing, but if you forgot to apply or you're just not feeling the internship environment for the holidays, never fear. Here are seven ideas to stay productive, build your resume and possibly even earn some cash over your winter break without the intern title.

1. Get a Seasonal Job

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This may just sound like a boring cop-out, but seasonal jobs are great. Especially in retail, companies need to hire extra employees to keep up with the demand of the holiday season. The hours are usually pretty flexible no matter where you go, and it's easy to work longer shifts if you want to earn more money for next semester. Getting trained in such a short amount of time and being able to handle the holiday pressure are both great experiences to talk about when applying for jobs in the future. Plus, you'll likely get an employee discount!

2. Volunteer

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Since the holiday spirit is high in the winter, it's easy to find volunteer opportunities.  There are also so many different kinds of volunteering you can do: working in soup kitchens, running toy drives, writing letters to soldiers, baking cookies for prisoners, etc. You can also opt for full-time and part-time volunteer positions with a variety of organizations, whether your area of interest is refugees or animals or art. Some of the best ways to connect with local volunteer opportunities are joining your city or community's Facebook group, checking bulletins at churches and coffee shops or using a website like VolunteerMatch.

3. Make Something with Your Hands

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This is a great way to pick up a new skill and cross people off your gift list. If you like to bake, try your hand at some recipes you can whip up in a jar. If you're a skincare buff, try making your own bath & body products. If you just want something to do while watching your favorite movies, knit or crochet someone a warm scarf for the cold winter. You can even check out your local art stores to see if they have any free or cheap workshops. Not only will you likely learn a new skill, but you will also be making your friends and family some amazing gifts (even on a budget)!

4. Learn to Code

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Even if you're not a computer science major, it can be very beneficial to have a basic understanding of coding. It's fascinating to understand how the things you see on your computer and phone started out! Websites like Code Academy and Code.org are great resources that go at your own pace, so no need to worry if you have busy holiday plans. Plus, it'll make a great addition to your resumé!

5. Practice a Language

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Whether you've been learning a different language for years or you just picked it up, time off from school is the perfect time to practice it. If you can afford it, travel to an area where the language is spoken and completely immerse yourself in it (work exchange programs like Worldpackers or Workaway can help keep costs low). If you can't take a flight anytime soon, work on your language skills with a program like Duolingo. For those who celebrate Christmas, they even have a limited-time special skill that you can get with your lingots (rewards) as the holiday approaches in December. 

6. Brush up on Your Photography Skills

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Even if you don't consider yourself to have photography skills, you've definitely taken some photos before. Even your phone can take amazing shots if you know a few basic techniques. Websites like Digital Photography School have tons of amazing articles with tips and tricks to mastering any kind of photography. Winter is the perfect time to learn because you can capture breathtaking snow landscapes, lively holiday parties or even just family portraits at a simple get-together! So grab whatever equipment you have, and start making everyone oh-so-jealous of your Instagram.

7. Apply for Scholarships

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You still have school coming up after winter break, and the next academic year as well. Tuition doesn't pay itself, so start earning that cash now. Websites like Fastweb and Unigo are popular scholarship search engines to start out. Don't forget to check with your individual school and local organizations as well to see what they might be offering. It may seem grueling to work on essays and such when school's out, but future you will be grateful for the reduction in student loans. Check out these tips to ace your scholarship applications!

Internships are fantastic ways to get experience during winter break, but it's not for everybody. I'm definitely the kind of person that just wants to slow down a bit in between semesters. I'll be able to make sure I stay busy and even learn something new instead of just binge-watching Hallmark movies and eating way too much food (it'll still happen, just to a lesser extent). So finish up your finals, and then get ready for the most productive winter break you've ever had!

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