Why you should volunteer to work over the holidays

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(MoneyWatch) Brace yourself -- holiday season is just around the corner. Soon, many offices will ask employees to put in their requests for days off. One suggestion? Hold off and don't ask for any, until after the holidays. For younger employees in particular, this is a great opportunity for a career boost. "Volunteering to work can really help your career because you'll be seen as a team player," says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding. Here are three things you can accomplish by working over the major holidays this year:

Show you can work independently.
Accomplishing things over the holidays, while most of the staff is out, is a prime chance for a junior-level employee to demonstrate that he or she doesn't need hand-holding. "What better way is there to convey 'I'm trustworthy and reliable?'" says Selena Rezvani, author of Push Back--How Smart Women Ask--and Stand Up--for What They Want. This is a prime opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

You'll get better assignments.
If you're tired of busy work, working over the holidays (as well as staying later in the evening) may help you snag prime projects. "Have a nose for seeking out meaty, high-visibilty assignments and ask to lead one, not just participate in one!" says Rezvani. Taking over tasks from those on vacation will allow you to master new skills, quickly.

Build your network internally.
With fewer people in the office and a slower work schedule, you'll have time to get to know your colleagues that are sticking around with you. Even better? If your boss is on the job, too. "Getting one-on-one time with your boss during a time that has a different and more casual feel to it is great! You'll have the opportunity to ask some questions about the business or company that in usual course of day you don't get a chance to ask," says Kimberly Schneiderman, founder of City Career Services in New York City.

Finally, traveling before or after the holidays is usually a smart financial move. So unless you have family commitments, consider taking one for the team and work over the holidays. It just might make this your most successful season yet.

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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