My Winter Break Work Week

This post is half of a two-part mini-series from two students who completed SwatWorks projects during winter break. One of the programs that Swarthmore’s Career Services Office offers (and completely funds!) is SwatWorks, a short-term, professional assignment. Some past SwatWorks micro-internships have included (but are not limited to) coding, website development, and research at a non-profit. If you want to learn more after reading this post, be sure to check out the second part in this mini-series on SwatWorks here.

As a math and economics double major, web-design is not a skill I encounter in my classes here at Swarthmore. Instead, it’s one I improved this past winter break.

Towards the end of the fall semester, Swarthmore alumni and parents post funded micro-internship opportunities–called SwatWorks projects–for Swatties to apply to work on during their winter break. Projects vary in length, with compensation based on project duration. The types of projects posted range from research assistantships, to social media marketing, to copy editing and illustration.

Looking to get away from a semester full of problem sets, I looked at some of the creative opportunities listed for this year’s SwatWorks, and ultimately applied to a website redesign project for the AJ Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University. One Zoom interview later and I had a 40-hour project lined up for the first week of 2023.

While I did have some prior web design experience going into the project, the Drexel staff treated me as an industry veteran, asking for my initial feedback and my projected timeline, as well as my planned process for how I would comb through the site. Being held to this standard as early as our first meeting set the tone for the project as well as gave me an idea of what the expectations are for a freelance web designer. While web design is not what I plan to do full-time after graduating, this experience allowed me to get a glimpse of what that line of work could look like, and also allowed me to complete an enjoyable project.

One of my mock-ups of an alternative home page set up, created during my micro-internship.

My day-to-day looked a bit different than a typical 40 hour work week as I was able to split the time across the first three weeks of January before going back to school. This is one of the best features of a SwatWorks project as the flexible weekly commitment allowed me to still be able to rest and relax during my winter break. For my project, my deliverable was a document organized in order of the site architecture. I updated the document as I went, catching broken links, marking information that needed to be updated, and providing mockups of pages with alternate layouts. My work was largely done independently, but my supervisors were always available via email. We also had a final Zoom meeting to discuss my findings and how the Drexel team could implement them after my 40 hours were completed. My contributions through the SwatWorks project were greatly appreciated by the staff and I was happy to have made a tangible impact on their site.

While winter break is a much needed time to decompress after finals, SwatWorks allows Swatties to earn some extra cash while doing a personally interesting project that can build skills for their resume, increase their network, and allow them to get a glimpse of a field they haven’t tried before. This is my second SwatWorks project that I’ve done, and once again, it was a great experience.

About the Author

Hi there! My name is Erin Kelly and I’m a member of the Class of 2024. I’m a double major in Economics and Statistics as well as a member of the Swarthmore Women’s Varsity Lacrosse team. Outside of academics and lacrosse, I’m a member of SAME (the Women+ in Economics club) and enjoy reading science fiction.

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