Sleigh Your Career Goals: Your Guide to Upskilling During the Holidays


woman studying rose wrist

It’s easy to slide into the holidays one of two ways — feeling like a humbug discouraged by your job hunt or bright-eyed with ambition (I’ll have so much time!). Either way, you know you need to up your skill game and refresh your portfolio to make a new career a reality.   

Fast-forward a week to binging Home Alone and Christmas Vacation on the couch. Don’t let the short winter days lull you into stalling out — embrace the spirit of growth along with the spirit of the season. Here’s how you can sleigh your career goals this holiday season. 

‘Tis the Season for New Beginnings

A break in your routine is the perfect time to assess and reimagine your career. The end of one phase — year or season — and the start of another lets you transition your body and mind for renewal and growth. 

If you’re just starting your career switch journey, let this be a time of reflection and planning. If you’re already on your journey or applying to jobs but aren’t gaining traction, take advantage of the slow recruiting weeks to upgrade your skill set and resume. 

General Assembly’s Holiday Guide to Upskilling

Are you hungry to move your career forward this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. Follow these five steps to turn your aspirations into action with tech skill upskilling.

Step 1: Jingle All the Way to Your Dreams with Goal-Setting

Already familiar with setting goals for work? Goal-setting can also be effective for personal and career growth. Take some time to identify your interests, passions, and long-term career goals. Consider what aspects of the tech industry resonate with you the most. This will guide you in choosing an upskilling plan that aligns with your personal and professional aspirations.

Set Short-Term Career Goals

Failing to complete a large goal can leave you feeling flatter than a deflated blow-up Santa. So, how can short-term goals best lead toward accomplishing long-term goals? Accomplishing short-term goals gives you confidence and helps you recognize that you’re taking steps on a journey. Choose a realistic short-term goal to complete over the holidays and create a plan to get there. 

Examples of short-term career goals

  • Select and enroll in an upskilling course
  • Complete a course or certification
  • Finish your capstone project or portfolio
  • Make 10 connections with contacts at dream companies

Make It Festive, Make It Fun

Need a way to motivate yourself? Find your inner Santa and gamify your learning by making it fun. Try these two visual ideas to reach your goals.

  1. Challenge yourself with “12 Days of Upskilling,” a sprint where you complete a small action item each day for 12 days. Make yourself a festive roadmap or calendar to visualize it.
  2. Create a bingo board with action steps you want to take and place it somewhere visible. Every time you check off a square, give yourself a small reward, and when you finish it, treat yo’self!

Step 2: Choose a Learning Path

Research current trends in the tech industry, identifying skills in high demand that align with your interests. Consider market demand by exploring booming industries or sectors. Based on your reflections and research, choose a specific learning path, like:

  • AI
  • Coding
  • Data analytics
  • Data science
  • Digital marketing
  • Front-end web development
  • JavaScript development
  • Product management
  • Python programming
  • React development
  • Software engineering
  • User experience (UX) design
  • Visual design

If you’re not sure which fits you best, try our human design career guide, our course guide, or our Which Industry is Right for You? quiz. We also offer a variety of free intro workshops, short courses, and Dash, a free introductory coding course. 

How to Research Upskilling Courses

Once you lock in your learning path, identify a course that fits your needs. There are many tech bootcamps and online courses out there. But they aren’t all the same. Use this checklist to uncover the differences and find the best one for you.

Holiday upskilling checklist
A checklist to upskill during the holidays

Finding the right education partner can make all the difference in your career journey.

Step 3: Carve Out Time and Space for Learning

Next, figure out how you’ll accomplish your goal and learning path. Ask yourself what time and resources will be necessary to complete your goal and make a concrete plan to make it happen.  

Block Time for Learning

One approach is to block entire days or large blocks of time for upskilling. If your last day of work is December 21, for example, dedicate December 22 as a work day before you slide out of your routine. 

Another approach is to set aside short time blocks multiple times a week to accomplish your goal. This gives you more flexibility around holiday activities, but can be easier to let slide. Schedule time blocks and reminders on your calendar or ask for accountability from a friend or partner. 

If you’ll be driving long distances or exercising daily, download audio content beforehand so you can keep learning on the go while multitasking.

Create a Cozy Learning Environment

Another trick for productivity during the holidays is to create an environment that you truly enjoy. At home, light a candle, put on your favorite instrumental music, or make your favorite beverage as a treat while you study. This signals a change to your body and mind.  Getting out of the house to a coffee shop or library can also be a good strategy to stay on course. 

If you’re staying in a hotel or in your childhood bedroom, getting cozy can be a little more challenging. Set clear boundaries and let your family know when you’ll be working — and be sure to break out your ear buds (or ear plugs) to minimize distractions. If necessary, sneak away with your laptop for a bit.

Step 4: Prepare Yourself for Uncomfortable Career Conversations

If you’re unemployed or underemployed, navigating career conversations with your family and friends can be difficult. Comments like, Are you still at that one job? Have you found a job yet? Why don’t you do accounting instead? in front of 20 relatives can sting. 

Just remember, your family wants to connect and likely also feels awkward about how to approach the conversation. Prepare your elevator speech for when these questions inevitably pop up and invite curiosity so you can share more about your newfound passion. Try this simple script: 

I’m currently doing X, but I’m interested in transitioning to X. I’m taking a course in X to learn XYZ. Here’s why I think it’s interesting and here’s where I plan to be at this time next year… 

Sharing your career goals with family, friends, and even strangers is also beneficial. By vocalizing your career goals, you let your family know how to support you in the next year. You also never know what networking connections might emerge. Who knew that your aunt’s new boyfriend works at your dream company?   

Step 5: Celebrate Your Successes

Last — but certainly not least — don’t focus so much on productivity and learning that you neglect to relax and rest. Celebrate each win with a reward and invite your friends and family to join in. Give yourself grace and stay positive with career affirmations

Put your laptop away for a few days, be present with loved ones, and — yes — enjoy that holiday movie marathon.

New Year, New You: Embark on a Journey of Continuous Learning

Above all, holiday learning is a way to set yourself up for success in the new year. January has a way of sweeping us up, so any upskilling and growth you can do over the holidays will put you ahead when the new year starts. Set achievable goals, find the right course, and make it festive and fun.

Ready to get started? Check out our course catalog or workshops. Get ahead of your New Year’s resolutions by enrolling in a short course today.