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Flag of the Week - Switzerland

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities, the so-called Bundesstadt. The country is situated in Western and Central Europe, where it is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura. While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8 million people is concentrated mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are to be found; among them are the two global and economic centers of Zürich and Geneva.
The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291, which is celebrated annually as Swiss National Day. The country has a long history of armed neutrality—it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815—and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Nevertheless, it pursues an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. In addition to being the birthplace of the Red Cross, Switzerland is home to numerous international organizations, including the second largest UN office. On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association and is part of the Schengen Area – although it is notably not a member of the European Union, nor the European Economic Area.

Straddling the intersection of Germanic and Romance Europe, Switzerland comprises four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Therefore the Swiss, although predominantly German-speaking, do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnicity or language; rather, Switzerland's strong sense of identity and community is founded on a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy, and Alpine symbolism.

Switzerland ranks high in several metrics of national performance, including government transparency, civil liberties, economic competitiveness, and human development. It has the highest nominal wealth per adult in the world and the eighth-highest per capita gross domestic product on the IMF list. Swiss citizens have the second-highest life expectancy in the world. Zürich and Geneva each have been ranked among the top cities with the highest quality of life in the world. 

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Time to Rethink the Midnight Snack?

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Ally Week

We’re celebrating Ally Week. An important aspect of allyship is reflecting on your journey towards becoming an ally. Today we invite you to reflect on the following statements:

Come back tomorrow for additional reflection questions!

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Time to Rethink the Midnight Snack?

As a Duke student, I am no stranger to the late-night cram session the night before an exam, or the essay-writing marathon that stretches into the early morning hours.  For many of us in college, day and night have become flexible terms that more often than not misalign with being awake and being asleep.  When burning the midnight oil, we often crave a snack to keep us going through the night.  However, a recent study by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (reviewed here in the NY Times) suggests that these late-night nibbles may be messing with our bodies’ internal clocks.

Published this past December in the journal Cell Metabolism, the study used mice to look at the relationships between meal times, weight gain, and overall health.  Mice were allowed to eat on two different schedules – one group had access to food all day long, while the other group of mice had access to food for only 9 or 12 hours per day.  The results showed that even though all of the mice consumed the same number of daily calories, those mice that only ate during the 9 to 12 hour window were healthier, gained less weight (some obese mice even lost weight), and had more lean muscle mass than the mice that ate all day long.

Scientists believe that the results seen in the mice may have significant implications for humans too.  Although the exact mechanism is still being researched further, this study hypothesizes that meal times affect the body’s circadian rhythms, even more so than dark and light cycles.   Circadian rhythms are our bodily processes that run on an approximately 24-hour cycle, and they affect how our genes work.  This study suggests that eating only within a 12-hour time window allows for our genes and metabolic pathways to synchronize and work together more effectively, keeping our bodies leaner and stronger.  While the old adage goes, “we are what we eat,” it may be more likely that “we are when we eat. “

This being said, it can be nearly impossible to avoid those midnight cravings all the time, so it’s important to be smart when choosing a late-night snack.  To give yourself a boost of fuel at any hour, pair a carbohydrate (fresh or dried fruit, whole grain crackers, veggies) with a protein source (yogurt, cheese, nuts, hummus) – check out this Smart Snacking resource for more ideas!  Also, be sure to feed yourself well and regularly during the day to meet your daily energy needs, so when nighttime rolls around, you’re still feeling satisfied and productive.  Your body and its clock will thank you!

      

 

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Recruitment Stats

The Interfraternity Council extended 467 bids to potential new members during 2015 formal recruitment, while the Panhellenic Association extended 355 bids.  This represents an increase in bids offered for both IFC and Panhel compared to the previous year.

 

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International Hot & Spicy Foods Day

Happy International Hot and Spicy Foods Day-a day to celebrate all things spicy! DID YOU KNOW...that not only does adding certain spices to your cuisine enhance the flavor and more often than not "makes" the dish come alive, but that certain spices have bacteria fighting health benefits that can be used for natural remedies for many ailments. Check out this chart to find out about health-benefitting herbs and spices! 

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#advice from Employers at the Duke Career Fair

This year I attended my first Career Fair. Ever.

As a staff member at the Duke Career Center, I feel as though I should hang my head in shame when I state that. When I was a student in college, I never knew (or never paid attention to) the unique opportunities and experiences a career center is able to offer students. And the Duke Career Center is the best of the best. My colleagues and the knowledge they share with students, who are searching for jobs and internships or just doing a little soul searching, consistently amaze me.

Maybe you’re like me when I was a student and are reading this saying, “I didn’t even know that the Duke Career Center hosted a Career Fair.” or “I don’t know what I want to do professionally, so it doesn’t make any sense for me to talk to employers yet.” Let me stop you right there. How will you know if you don’t go?

What I’ve learned from observing and talking to students attending the Career Fair and meeting employers on campus is that the experience can be very different depending on your goals. There are plenty of students that know, and have known, exactly what they want to do after they graduate. And maybe their dream company is at the Career Fair. They have their resume ready and waiting, hoping to land that job in the fall of their senior year. But that’s not everyone. It definitely wasn’t me. So, even if you don’t yet know what you want to do in your professional life, wouldn’t it be great to feel more comfortable speaking with a recruiter? Or learn more about a company that you never heard of? Or recognize that your unique skill set might just be a perfect fit for that company you’ve always heard about but never knew you could work for? There are numerous benefits to gain from attending the Career Fair, even if it feels overwhelming and scary. Sometimes we gain the most when we step outside the box. Again, how will you know if you don’t go?

Now that I’ve convinced you to attend an upcoming Career Fair (take my advice- hindsight is 20/20 people!), make sure you feel ready and prepared. The following is some #advice for Duke students that employers at the 2014 Duke Fall Career Fair shared:

"Talk to everyone even if it's a field you never considered. You never know what the future holds." FLUOR

"Explore lots of options. Be open-minded about options. Don't hesitate to meet different employers." Fuqua Business School

"Be confident in what you say. Put your best foot forward." Golden Key

"Talk to everybody. Especially companies you don’t know about. And put your major and year of graduation on your name tag." Millennium Advisors

"Give a firm handshake. Be yourself. No need to be a robot." @advisorycareers

"First impressions are based on personality. Be yourself." @Luxottica

"We are looking for everyone. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors." @ibmcollegcareer

"Ask thoughtful questions. Articulate what you're thinking about and what you’re passionate about." Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

"Do 5 minutes of research. Be prepared, but also be human when you get here." @glg

"Be engaged. Know one fact about the company before you come by. Show interest in the company. And be yourself. We are gauging personalities." @busch_jobs

"Don't just do it because your friends are doing it. Own your own dreams. Explore your options." @findthebest

"Think about your personal brand.” @appianoncampus

"Speak up about your experience outside of your education. And less skin is better than more skin if you're unsure."  @skanskasusa

"There are a slew of companies that are out there that you may never have heard of. There could be a great career for you and a match for your skill set." @colemanresearch

"It may not be the right fit for you, but tell your friends about it." @maxpoint_int

“Tell the employer what your degree is and what your experience can do for them." @recruiterge @gecareers

"Don't talk to your friends ahead of time." @gapinc

"Make a connection first. It's more about personality. Relax and be yourself." @comscore

"The sooner you get in here the better. Even as a freshman and sophomore." @carmax

"Be well-versed about a project you have worked on. Show initiative. Highlight your work experience and communicate it." @ebayupinc

"Prepare questions ahead of time and have a positive attitude. Keep an open mind.” @capital1campus

"Attend corporate presentation. Look on websites. There you can find a wealth of information." @gm

"After the career fair, follow up with employers who impressed you and attend the events they offer." @appnexus

"Be your way. Have some charisma." @burgerking

"Feel free to take the swag." Jane Street

"Find the right balance between gathering the right information and selling yourself." @yext

"Come with an open mind and ready to engage employers in conversation not only about the job opportunities, but also about yourself." @matcheducation

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Ally Training

Become an Ally for the LGBTQ Community. Participate in campus training sessions and become part of the Duke Ally Network.

When Joshua Lazard started working within Duke Chapel less than a year ago, he noticed a rainbow placard hanging outside his supervisor’s office.

The card reads, “I am your ALLY,” and is given to Duke employees and students who go through ally training offered by Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

Lazard, the C. Eric Lincoln Minister for Student Engagement, went through the training last year to learn how to offer more support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community. He is now working on a partnership between his office and the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, in which he’ll help encourage an open environment for students exploring both their spiritual and sexual identities.

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Count Calories? Maybe It's Better if We Don't!

It’s ironic that at a time when new legislation will demand that restaurants (having more than 20 locations), and vending machines (anyone owning more than 20) will have to disclose calorie and nutrition information, we are also learning that counting calories might be counterproductive to addressing the obesity epidemic in this country. Read More...

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My life as the Fresh Pres(ident) of Bel Air

Coming to Edens, I was extremely nervous about how things would turn out. The majority of my dorm mates freshmen year were people I did not feel connected to, and my RA was usually MIA. More than that, people always talk about Edens as a sort of “black hole” of West Campus because of it being the farthest dorm from all the academic buildings and the Bryan Center. This less-than wonderful experience my freshman year led me to become involved in house council and become president.

Even with all this negative opinion surrounding the dorm, I can honestly say it has been an incredibly positive experience. Both RAs are extremely friendly and excited to foster a sense of community, and they make themselves available to everyone. Moreover, the small amount of people in the dorm makes it really easy to get to know other people in the dorm. Even the housekeepers have been incredibly friendly and welcoming! It doesn’t even matter that Edens is the farthest from the academic buildings and most of the West Campus facilities because the environment is so relaxed and open that it makes it easy to take the extra few minutes to reach my dorm.

In the semester that I’ve already spent here, we’ve had a Chipotle event, a DUI performance, a Finvite to the Durham Food Tour, and a trip to the DPAC to see an accapella group.  The best part about it is that, because it is an independent house, the people who go to these events all have different interests and involvements at Duke. There is an incredible artist in my hall, some lacrosse players who get really extreme when they play Ping-Pong with each other, and a guy who orders Grace’s Café for delivery almost every day.

There’s something incredibly comforting about the consistency of coming back from class and seeing the Grace’s delivery guy or hearing the pitter patter of the ping pong ball. As my RC said in an email the first week of classes in August, Edens really is “the hidden gem” of Duke. I love being part of this community and helping it grow as a community with my position.
 

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Count calories? Maybe it’s better if we don’t.

It’s ironic that at a time when new legislation will demand that restaurants (having more than 20 locations), and vending machines (anyone owning more than 20) will have to disclose calorie and nutrition information, we are also learning that counting calories might be counterproductive to addressing the obesity epidemic in this country.

It’s not rocket science to figure out that calorie counting might not be working – it’s been done for years and look where it got us. Believe me, I realize that our obesity epidemic is not just about calorie counting: obesity is actually very complex, we always just want to over simplify it by bringing it back to calories in and calories out.  We now know that the source of calories consumed have different effects metabolically in our bodies.    

There are times where calorie counting may be beneficial; such as to offer perspective on energy intake, when someone has no idea of how much they are eating. Our food label information, for instance, is currently based on a 2000 calorie diet and for many this means very little. Perhaps counting calories for a day might assist in increasing awareness of how our intake compares.  However, that is more or less where it ends. Counting calories, or counting nutrient values for that matter, diminishes the food we eat to a numeric value.  Inherently that removes the pleasure, joy and satisfaction we derive from eating only to have it replaced with worry, guilt and an overall unsatisfying dining experience.  If you look at countries that are not struggling with weight issues, or hadn’t until recently, it’s not because they’ve been counting calories all these years.  Perhaps it is because they eat food and not nutrients, they appreciate the flavor, color, texture and origins of the food that they are eating and enjoy the company of the people they are eating with. It’s really not about calories, it’s about balance, and it’s just taking us a little longer to realize that.

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The Flu Forecast

The forecast isn’t great for the flu season this year.  It started a little earlier than usual; one of the strains that is going around – H3N2 – is a little more aggressive than usual; and even though this year’s vaccine targets H3N2, it isn’t a great match for the strain that’s actually going around.

The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and people who have it usually experience the sudden onset of fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue and occasionally nausea and vomiting.

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away through droplets made when they cough, sneeze or talk. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose. You can avoid spreading the flu to yourself and others by staying away from sick people and avoiding others if you are sick. Covering your cough and washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also a good idea.

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get your flu vaccine, even during seasons like this one when there is a less than ideal match for one virus. (Flu clinic: Wednesday, 1/21, from 5-8pm in Wilson Rec.) The vaccine may protect against the other viruses floating around, and antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses.

All Duke Students can get a flu shot at the Student Health Center or one of the flu shot clinics we offer around campus.

Luckily for most Duke Students, the flu will resolve on its own after a few days of feeling crummy with the help of rest, fluids and over the counter pain and fever reducers.  However, there are prescription medications that can shorten the duration of the illness in severe cases if started early enough. If you are worried that you might have the flu, call the Student Health Center to speak to one of our nurses or make an appointment to see one of our health care providers.  We are here to keep you healthy!

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CareerBeam: Interview Practice and More!

CareerBeam is a great online tool for anyone at any point of the career journey! It is available for Duke students of all years, undergraduate and graduate, that the Career Center servesCareerBeam has multiple tools to help you with different aspects of your career search.

  • Resume and Cover Letter Builders provide tips on how to tell your unique story throughout all of your application documents.
  • Five Self-Assessments help you begin to learn about yourself so that you can begin to search for careers and opportunities that would fit you best.
  • Industry Information Guides allow you to get the latest information and trends about any industry you’re interested in.
  • Top City Guides brings information about employment, population and other factors from cities around the US right to you.

I want to highlight two valuable tools that you can take advantage of right now.

Interview Prep
On the left-hand side of the home page, this link provides over 150 interview questions once you select the option “Interview Questions.”  When you click on “Interview Types and Examples,” you will see valuable tips on various interview formats including case, panel, phone and video interviews. 
Though these two functions were underscored, this comprehensive website has many more including resumes, cover letter, self-assessments, and tools for industry research.  To summarize, log in and see for yourself what it has to offer!
Login and Get on it!

Video Interview Preparation
Found on the bottom of the home page, this feature allows you to pick from over 250 questions and customize your own video interview.  There is nothing like seeing yourself on camera and being able to evaluate your interview skills to improve your techniques.  Take advantage of this opportunity to see your own nonverbal behaviors, rate of speaking and strength of responses to interview questions.  Then, schedule an interview prep appointment so we can help you improve! Call (919) 660-1050.

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Love Is A Verb, a screening and discussion

Love Is A Verb is an examination of a social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that began in Turkey in the l960s and now reaches across the globe. The group is called Hizmet, the Turkish word for service or The Gulen Movement after its inspiration, leader and beloved teacher Fethullah Gulen, a man that Time Magazine named as one of the most influential leaders in the world in 2013.

Kenneth Hunter, Executive Producer and Hakan Berberoglu, Co-Producer will be present for a screening and Q&A for this new documentary on the Gulen Movement on ​Tuesday, January 13th @6:00pm at Duke Bryan Center, Griffith Theater.

Presented by the Center for Muslim Life at Duke.

Read more about this documentary at www.loveisaverbmovie.com.

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Fannie Mitchell Executive Director William Wright-Swadel on Career Security

Writing to parents about the career and professional development process is always a challenging thing to attempt—mostly because on almost every topic the conversation is very different depending on the student and his/her academic class year. In a newsletter like this one, 500 words go quickly!  There is however, one issue that students bring to us from parents, regardless of the academic progress of their daughter or son—career security. So let’s look at that issue today.

As the query comes to the career counselor from the student, it is usually about choosing a field that is stable, insulated to a large degree from the vagaries of the economy. It is a field where the companies are well known and prestigious; rarely lay off “good staff,” and where there is a strong commitment to the further education and upward mobility of those they hire.  It is a field that pays well, the employers respect work-life balance, and they have offices wherever in the world one wants to live, but never transfer staff except to where they ask to go.  Finally, the field should be filled with organizations with a set of values that we all can agree are in the best interest of today and tomorrow.

I have exaggerated a bit here, but only a bit.  I certainly understand the desire most parents have to ensure that their daughter or son will choose wisely and well and will be in a field and with organizations that can provide the stable environment many parents covet.  I am not sure this is a truly attainable goal for most students today—or that they share the goal with parents at this stage of their development.

The global market, into which our students launch, is dynamic, even volatile. Change is the constant and it happens with breathtaking speed. Organizations and industries shift to where opportunities exist or they create opportunities by defining new markets themselves. Innovation, entrepreneurship, impact, and the development or acquisition of new products, services, or domains of knowledge are the currency of stability for many organizations. Develop, acquire, define a brand, reflect upon its success or failure, and then adjust, adapt, and learn to deliver something new or something old in a different way. Some believe this is the mantra of the entrepreneur, but I have the same conversation with employers, regardless of size, longevity, domain, or even product.

I submit that stability for the individual student is much the same as described above for employers in the economy of today and tomorrow.  Stability will come from within, not from external partnerships with employers.  Those students who will thrive will be those who learn to learn in interdisciplinary ways, and across several very different domains of knowledge. They will have used the full range of academic, co-curricular, and experiential opportunities to articulate a brand, learn to compete, to adapt, and to reflect and assess outcomes (from successes and failures). They will learn to be effective in environments that are new, challenging, and filled with others quite different from themselves.  They will build a personal board of directors who will know and advise them. They will master the art of networking, initially using Duke alumni and parents. They will stay with an organization only as long as both are benefitting, not a moment longer.  So, they will learn to manage their professional development and their career as if it they were a corporation – as they likely will be!

For those of us, including many parents, who grew up hoping to find an employer who would hire, train, nurture, and develop us, this is a scary looking world. For most of the students with whom I speak it is a world that reflects their experiences and the way they anticipate they will grow most effectively.

It is not only the possession of a degree from a great university, like Duke University, that defines the future—though it is indeed a significant advantage. It is how the student went about getting the degree that most often tells the story of how effectively they will manage their professional life and how well they will create stability for themselves.

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Connecting though Twitter: The Story of My First Suit

Rewind a few years:

As I got home at 11 PM from my late-night graduate class, I was surprised by a package outside my apartment. The return label included the name of a woman I had been in communication with on Twitter. Inside were two professional suits and several long-sleeve dress shirts, as well as an incredibly thoughtful and encouraging note.

Sent from someone I had never met.

Social media can be a powerful thing.

I admit it—at first I wasn’t sold on Twitter. How much quality content could people possibly be sharing in 140 characters or less? I really didn’t care to read about what others were having for lunch.

I started to warm to Twitter about a year before I finished graduate school. I had heard from an alumna of my alma mater that Twitter was an open media space that would allow me to connect with and follow others who were doing the work that I was interested in. I began exploring the site and identifying Twitter users within my field. I caught on to the common hashtags that threaded relevant discussion topics and I logged on for themed weekly chats. I read articles and content that users shared, and started contributing my own.

Using Twitter, I collected recommendations for guest speakers to bring to campus as well as ideas for workshops and programs. Similarly, I shared my own work and ideas with those who contacted me in response to specific tweets. I developed a fast, interactive network.

Twitter became a powerful tool when I was active in reading, responding and contributing—what I got out of the site was a product of what I put in. I made connections and had discussions and quick exchanges with professionals across the country, and across the world. At one point, I debated a hot topic that I was writing a paper on with a woman who I later learned was a leader in higher education research—I hadn’t known until my professor pointed it out in surprise. Twitter made a community of like-minded professionals accessible.

And, the suit.

As I tweeted my way through my final two semesters of graduate school, another Twitter user in my field offered two suits in my size to a student with upcoming interviews. In need of professional clothes and on a tight budget, I responded. We exchanged contact information and, a few weeks later, two professional suits and additional dress shirts arrived at my door.

Twitter, like many other forms of social media, can be a powerful resource if used as a networking platform and opportunity. Like me, you’ll get out of it what you put in, so start exploring and determine a manageable level of engagement. If used actively, you can make connections and start conversations that otherwise may never have been possible.

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Greetings Duke Parents and Family Members!

Greetings Duke Parents and Family Members!

Welcome to the Class of 2019 Blue Devils! Our names are Beth Gabay, Dana Williams Dudley, and Penny Fleming. We are all representatives of the Duke Parents Advisory Council (DPAC). On behalf of DPAC, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we welcome you to our Duke family. We would like to invite you to join our Facebook “Group for Duke University Parents and Families” where you can feel free to ask questions, share news, and make comments. We are excited about being able to connect with you and share information from a parent perspective. We are sure that you will want to learn everything you can about Duke. We offer up-to-date information about campus events, alumni events, sports, technology, research opportunities, and student happenings.

We congratulate you on your children’s Early Decision acceptance to Duke! We know this is an exciting time and that your family will want to feel a part of the Duke community starting now. We are so thrilled that you chose Duke! We are a vibrant, engaging, and close-knit community. Duke is a research university with a liberal arts approach, and your children will have an academic experience like no other. We hope that you will start wearing your Duke Blue with pride and share your happiness with your family and friends. In the meantime, if you have any questions for parents of current students and alumni, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us through this site. Again, congratulations!

To join and connect with other parents visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/592008527562180/

The group is closed, so you will have to request to join.

Or feel free to contact us via email: dukeparents@studentaffairs.duke.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

Warm regards,

Beth Gabay, P’16
Dana Williams Dudley, P’17
Penny Fleming, P’09, P’10 (BSE, MS) P’12, P’13 (BSE, MEng)

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Greek News

Check out the recently published fall 2014 newsletter from Duke's Mu Kappa chapter of Chi Omega.  Read More.

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Taking Advantage of Career Center Opportunities

The first week of my freshman year, I received some really important advice from a graduating senior that attended my high school. She told me “one of the best things about being a Duke student is all the opportunities the University has to offer you. It’s your job to take advantage of them.” As a graduating senior myself now, I’d like to think this has colored my Duke experience. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in service and academic engagement programs, attend and met numerous prominent campus figures, and travel abroad twice! I leave Duke confident I’ve made the most of my experience. 

But this advice didn’t only influence my approach to curricular and extra-curricular involvements. This advice was also indicative of my approach and experience with the Duke Career Center. When I was looking for a summer internship my sophomore year, I scheduled an appointment with a career counselor. Not having any idea of what I wanted to do, I went into the appointment feeling very lost. During my meeting I was told about all the opportunity seeking resources I could utilize to hone in on my interest, and connect with alumni in the field. Despite being a little overwhelmed at first, I got myself organized; I did my research, and dove right in.

My search began on DukeConnect; I was able to speak with several alumni to get more information on a variety of career paths I was interested in pursuing. I also submitted applications to various internship programs passed along to me through that initial appointment. I utilized the drop-in advising services to perfect all my resumes and cover letters. Ultimately, I was accepted to the INROADS program, which strives to place underrepresented students in the business industry. I received my first internship through the INROADS process with a pharmaceutical lobbying group. Through the program I was able to receive business and industry training, and interned with the company for two summers thereafter. My internships played a very large role in determining my career interests, and ultimately supported my decision to attend law school. However, I would have never known about the experience if I hadn’t taken advantage of the all the opportunities the Career Center offers to students.

Often times, Duke can seem like a daunting a place and the internship/job search can be as well. The sheer number of opportunities can be overwhelming. But that shouldn’t be a reason to shy away. Instead, in order to take make the most of your four years here, and as I was told my first week here “It’s your job to take advantage of them!”

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Transition to Duke

We spoke to Gerald Tan, a Trinity freshman from Singapore, about his transition to Duke and the United States. The Economics student has a great sense of humor and loves all things food.

1. Where have you lived or traveled?
I have only lived in Singapore. But my Mum was born in Malaysia, so I would often head there to visit my relatives.  It’s a 3-hour drive away.

2. Why did you come to Duke?
Many reasons: the liberal arts education, the community of friends, the weather, the over-aggressive squirrels. But most important of all - to explore. My mum left her hometown, alone, when she was barely 16, to seek a new life in a foreign country. Coming to Duke is, in some way, my lesser emulation of that immense courage and entrepreneurship she had.

3. What are you planning on studying while you are at Duke?
I want to study Economics. I am also interested in Philosophy – Philosophy 101 is an excellent course to take!

4. What are you involved in outside of the classroom?
I am on the Duke Debate team. Over weekends, I would travel out with the team to other schools, like Yale [University] and [University of] Vermont, to compete in inter-varsity tournaments. I am also in Duke Consulting Club: I write for the Duke Consulting Review and work closely with a Durham start-up, Ripcog, under the community-consulting program. Ripcog is a platform that helps local businesses generate more referrals at a lowest cost. I have also most recently been preparing for the regional Federal Reserve Challenge.
During my free time (if there is even such a thing), I cook.  Pork Belly stews; caramelized chicken wings in Chinese cooking wine; Tangyuan – colored rice balls in sweetened ginger broth. I also play the viola.

5. How did you feel when you first came to United States? Were you surprised or were things similar to life in your home country?
It was almost dreamlike; partly because it was after a 24-hour flight, but mostly because the moment I had waited for 2 years finally arrived (I deferred my matriculation to Duke by 2 years to complete Singapore’s mandatory military service). I was most surprised to find strangers greeting me whenever they saw me, and blessing me whenever I sneezed.

6. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make to get immersed into the American culture?
To speak in an accent-neutral way that could be understood. People used to ask me what language I was conversing in, even when I was speaking in English.

7. Are there some parts of the American culture you haven’t gotten used to? If so, what are they?
The food. The food here is fantastic, but every so often, I miss authentic Chinese food (no offense to Panda Express).

8. How did your thoughts about the USA change after coming here?
As an international student, I was initially afraid that I would not be able to integrate into the Duke community. But the folks here are friendlier than I expected. Everywhere I go I bump into affection. 

9. Is there something you wish you had known about America before coming here?
How hot it really was in the first few weeks of Fall.

10. What do you miss the most about your home country?
My family, my old friends and food, glorious food.

11. What do you like the most about Duke?
The faculty. I am always amazed by how approachable (and humorous) many of the faculty members are. They really make learning more enjoyable. Earlier today, during my Economics lecture, Professor Zelder put on a woman’s scarf and began to shout in Italian. It was to demonstrate the effects of negative externalities.

12. What are your plans for this summer?
I haven’t really decided what I will do for this summer. But as of now, I am inclined to use that time to explore the States and to volunteer.

Departments: 

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