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Career Planning

Admitted Chinese Graduate Students Get Answers via Sina Weibo

Their questions were typical of incoming graduate students: What are the best housing options on- and off-campus? Are tuition payment plans available? How successful have graduates been in pursuing careers in New York and Washington D.C.? And of course, are graduate students able to get tickets to Duke basketball games?

What made the group of admitted graduate students posing the questions different is that they were using Weibo, a popular Chinese social media channel, to connect with current graduate students and Duke staff in real time to learn more about graduate school and campus life at Duke.

The session Tuesday morning was hosted by the Graduate School’s Admissions Office, in collaboration with Duke’s International House and Public Affairs and Government Relations team, the Career Center and the Duke Chinese Student and Scholars Association.

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Content is King in 2015!

Meredith Conte, ‘99 discusses career paths in journalism and what it takes create a successful career in media.

All Duke students pursue business, law or medical school, right?
Wrong.

Meredith Conte discusses her non-traditional career path in media that began in politics and public relations, transitioned to marketing with Discovery and National Geographic, and is now broadcasting at Gannett. Success in marketing is all about being creative, curious, and willing to step out of your comfort zone. Check out her professional stats and Q&A below.

Degree: BA, Public Policy; Marketing & Management Certificate
Current Employer: Gannett Broadcasting 
Title: Vice President, Marketing
City, St: Washington, DC
LinkedIn Profile

Describe the process for finding your career path? Was it easy? Hard? What did you learn along the way?
Finding my career path was tough and I tried a lot of things before finding a good match. As a senior, I wasn’t interested in the more mainstream, traditional options: investment banking, consulting, law school, med school, etc.

Graduating in 1999, I decided it would be fun to work on a presidential campaign. So I started there working first as a volunteer and then moving into a paid position. I didn’t love politics though, so I moved into PR. While I liked some aspects of PR, I got burnt out from the agency world so I moved into radio. From there, I jumped over to TV and that’s where I’ve been ever since.

Along the way, I learned it’s okay to make a switch, to follow my gut and to be confident that even though roads are bumpy, if you worked hard enough and smart enough, you will always land on your feet. And that in time, everything you experience will stitch together into a career you can look back on with great pride. 

How can students interested in journalism and broadcast media best utilize their time at Duke?

The best advice I can give is to really take advantage of all that Duke offers. Between the curriculum, the alumni, the professors, the local internship opportunities and the on-campus media there is so much to dig in to. Get involved, get experience and own your education.

The broadcast media and journalism industry has faced many changes and challenges over the past decade. Is the industry dead? What career opportunities/paths are out there for students interested in this field?

The industry is far from dead. While threats are always around, there is no better time to be in the industry. It is a time now where content and innovation are king. So for students really looking to get their hands dirty and make an impact, on an organization, on a community, the broadcast media business is an ideal place to start.

Career paths in the industry run the gamut. Opportunities abound in investigative reporting, original storytelling, community relations, marketing, social media, management, sales and much more and each of those can lead in a myriad of directions. 

What is the best way to find an internship or job in this field?

Most organizations will post internships and jobs on their websites but when it comes to job seeking, there’s nothing more valuable than networking and establishing relationships with people in the industry.

If you see a reporter on the street, go up and talk to them. Stop by your local television station and ask to talk to the head of the department you’re interested in. Email people whose work you admire and ask if they have time to talk. Don’t be shy.

And before you engage in dialogue, do your homework. Show the person you’re talking to that you know who they are and that there’s a specific reason you’ve asked for their time.

Describe the perfect intern or new hire in just three words.

Tenacious. Curious. Creative.

What is your best advice to students interested in this field?

Go for it. It is a real thrill to be in the media business and in journalism specifically. To know that your passion for multimedia storytelling can ultimately create change in communities is an exciting prospect. So if you have any interest at all, I say go all in. Don’t worry if you don’t have a journalism degree – the beauty of the business is that degrees are only one part of the mix. Creativity and curiosity get you pretty darn far.

That being said, tip #2 is be realistic. You likely won’t be in the corner office after graduating Duke but you’re certainly smart enough to get there. My advice is to come in humble, work hard, ask questions, be friendly to everyone and enjoy the ride. The advancement will come.

If your theme song played every time you entered a room, what song would it be? Why? 

Great question! I would say “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield is a go-to for me. It has a vivacious energy and a motivating message about making the most out of life no matter what you’re facing.

Final thoughts?

The media business is a tough one but it is a whole lot of fun. And we need young stars who will help us shape its future.

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Social Media in Your Job Search: Are YOU using it?

Social media was created to help people connect, so it makes sense that it is strongly used by companies to find talent.  Recent data shows that 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media for recruiting and 78% of recruiters have made hires through social media.  Moreover, the top social media tool used for recruitment is LinkedIn with a 94% usage rate.  But are YOU using it?  If this is a method that employers are using to seek talent, why wouldn’t you be using it too?  It can help you connect with employers across the globe or with an organization that is typically hard to reach = powerful. 

Here is a great infographic that provides valuable data regarding how social media is used in the job search and also highlights the forms of social media used:

Remember, social media does not supersede face-to-face interactions, but is an essential in the career search that can help you make connections with people and showcase your skills.  If you do not minimally have a LinkedIn profile we urge you to get one.  If you do have a profile, but you are unsure of how strong it is, use Drop-in Advising or an appointment in the Career Center to get some feedback. 

Finally, do not be afraid to send invitations to connect.  There will always be a percentage of people that will welcome that request.  Good luck with the process!

Getting Hired in a Digital World - Infographic and Article

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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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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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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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Ms. Trezza’s Kindergarten Class, Fall 1999

About Me! Worksheet

I found this worksheet at the back of my closet a few days before I left for college in Fall 2012.  Aside from a slightly better understanding of spelling, nothing much had changed in thirteen years, particularly my aspiration of becoming a doctor.  So, when I arrived at Duke, I was eager to start on the pre-med journey.  I, along with 300 other freshmen, excitedly (and naïvely, as I now know that nothing good can happen for me on Science Drive) walked up the long flight of stairs to Gross Chem to attend Chem 101.

As you may have realized already, I quickly found out that the long flight of stairs to what I thought would be an introduction to my career as a doctor was actually the flight of stairs to doom.  I learned that I couldn’t form any type of bond, covalent or ionic (get it?), with this class.  While my classmates were busy completing reaction equations and others sorts of smart chemistry things that I didn’t understand, I was busy flailing my arms in despair at the thought of continuing to take confusing classes that I was not passionate about for the next four years of my life.  I realized that I would have to look beyond my lifelong dream of being a doctor in search of something different.

Fast forward to present day, and I am now two years older, wiser, and an Economics major (so maybe not THAT wise).  Unlike freshman Lauren, I now have absolutely no idea what I want to do in the future.  I worked up a sweat running around the career fair as I stopped at every booth in every industry, from retail to banking, and I’ve spent many hours talking to whoever happens to be sitting next to me (to the freshman on the C1 two weeks ago: I’m sorry if I scared you) about the giant question mark that is my future.  Luckily, that person who’s sitting next to me has also become members of the staff at the Career Center, who are always there to listen to my latest debacles in my career search before reassuring me that whenever one door closes, another one opens.  I’ve found that it’s important to not be afraid of new opportunities and possibilities.  What I may want to do might be completely different from every other Economics major, but it’s also completely okay to try something new.  The most important thing about my choice is that it is something that I will enjoy, and as long as I am confident in my choice, success—and more importantly, happiness—will naturally follow.

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Duke Intern Influences National Marketing Campaign for Broadway’s Touring Production of Wicked

Q & A about Derek’s internship experience:
Your hometown:  Potomac, MD (just outside Washington, D.C.)

Your graduation date: May 2012 (but I graduated a year early)

Your major (and any minors + certificates): I majored in Political Science (American Politics) and minored in Psychology.

Your current job (title, employer, city, state): Proposal/Contracts Manager, T and T Consulting Services in Washington, D.C.

Student groups in which you participated at Duke: Duke Marketing Club, Duke Library Party, Asian Students Association, Multicultural Center, Center for Race Relations, International House, Leadership Roundtable, etc.

Other internships:
Outreach Intern at The Washington Bus, DukeEngage Program – Seattle
Youth Program Development Intern at Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote, Washington DC
Senate Page in the Maryland General Assembly, Maryland State House – Annapolis, MD
Congressional Intern for Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-08) at the United States House of Representatives, Washington DC

Overview of your general DPAC intern duties:
Assist the Managers for Concerts/Comedy and Broadway as integral parts of the marketing team.
Maintain presence for DPAC performances on social networking websites and event calendars.
Assist with media relations and press, including writing press releases and organizing press drops.
Participate in strategic planning and special events.
File and organize marketing settlements.
Help promote DPAC events by organizing promotional efforts both internally and on a grassroots level.

Discuss how you came to think of, create and facilitate your Wicked social media marketing idea. Why and how did you do it? What were the results?
I had the privilege of being blessed with a number of great Broadway shows and Concert/Comedy performances during my internship at DPAC, and supporting the marketing of Wicked was the ultimate culmination and test of what I could accomplish as a Marketing and Public Relations intern. Having seen Wicked on Broadway back in high school, I was already familiar with the show and felt strongly about its core messages. I knew that Wicked would be an opportunity to get people into the theatre, and I had a feeling that it would be many young people’s first experience in the theatre. I wanted it to be memorable. I was driven by how I had the opportunity to bring a diverse group of people into the theatre and enjoy a show that I had loved so much growing up.

My ideas for the viral Wicked social media marketing campaign really stemmed from the intersection of my familiarity with the show, the ad campaigns I had been studying in my marketing course at Duke, and the lessons I had learned leading social media marketing campaigns for previous Broadway engagements at DPAC over the course of my internship. I had the privilege of having awesome internship supervisors at DPAC that really afforded me the opportunity to think big; being part of what felt like a very flat non-hierarchical organization really helped to get the creative juices flowing in brainstorming ideas to engage our online audience.

I came up with my ideas predominately by looking back at the content and the major themes of the show—going through line-by-line and identifying areas where core themes were developed, then using those lines and evolving them into campaign ideas. For instance, the song “For Good” has a line about leaving a “handprint on your heart.” As the emotional climax of the show, it left a strong impression on me since we sang it at our high school graduation; from that, I developed an online competition where we would ask our followers on Facebook to post who in their lives had left the greatest “handprint on their hearts.” The hundreds of stories posted were great, and it was a neat opportunity for people familiar with the show to connect with it—and win some awesome Wicked merchandise and show tickets in the process.

Although my internship ended during the Wicked run, from what I understand, the social media marketing campaign was a hit. Because of its success (both in terms of boosting student ticket sales and fan engagement), the national touring production of Wicked decided to use some of the ideas I came up with in-house at DPAC in their national marketing. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery, and having the national production of a Broadway show I grew up loving use one of my ideas was pretty neat.

(Derek Mong with a fellow DPAC intern, and the cast of Jersey Boys)

Advice you have for other Dukies on making the most of their internship:
Don’t think of yourself as “just an intern,” and treat everyday as seriously as if it were a job interview.  It’s really tempting to think of yourself as an insignificant part of the team when you’re an intern—especially if you’re a part-time intern like I was with a definite end-date on the internship. However, as much as possible, it’s important to get yourself out of that mindset. Now that I’m managing interns at my current job, I can really see how important interns are and how much value they can bring to an organization.  Never forget that.

The second piece of advice I have is to not be afraid to bring new skills or ideas to the table. I came in with experience in video-editing, and, while it wasn’t part of the job description, I brought it up with my intern supervisor and was able to use and refine that skill developing viral videos for the Broadway productions we had that season. Bring everything to the table.

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Five Things About Museum Careers You Need To Know

1. You need to work in a museum before you can work in a museum
This means that prior museum experience is pretty much mandatory even for entry-level museum jobs.  Let’s just say that there are lots of applicants for every museum position, and the ones that have prior museum experience rise to the top of the pile. Volunteering and internships are very important to prepare for a museum career.

2. You will likely have to go where the job is, i.e. be prepared to move
There are a lot of museums out there, but the jobs open sporadically and you never know where one is going to turn up…it may be in a small town in the Midwest or a large city on the East Coast.

3. Size matters
There’s a big difference between working at a small museum with 10 employees and working at a huge institution with 250 employees. The larger the museum, the more focused and specific your job will be. The smaller the museum, the more you’ll get to do a little bit of everything and have more variety…and sometimes that means cleaning the bathrooms (ask me how I know). Also, your benefits are likely to be better at a bigger institution or one that’s part of a large university.

4. Museums are about visitors
You thought museums were about objects, art and artifacts, right? Well, they are, but these days there’s also a strong emphasis on being visitor-centered—making objects/exhibitions accessible and welcoming to the general public.

5. You get to keep learning
At most museums there are new and rotating exhibitions, which means that as a staff member you are constantly getting the opportunity to learn cool new things as part of your job! Trust me—it’s awesome.

Did you know the Nasher Museum offers fall and spring, for-credit internships and paid summer internships? All internships are in the following departments: education, marketing/communications, development, registrars, curatorial, academic programs, special events, and evaluation and assessment. Summer funding is also available to support internships at other museums (including the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice Internship program).

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DPAC’s Promotions and Marketing Manager Discusses Careers in the Live Entertainment Industry

Did you know one of the nation’s best live entertainment venues is right here in Durham? The Durham Performing Art Center (DPAC) presents Broadway, concert, comedy, and family shows throughout the calendar year. Internships are available for course credit every summer, spring, and fall in a variety of DPAC offices including marketing, sales, facility operations, theatre management, tech production, and programming. 

Alan Foushee, promotions and marketing manager for DPAC, took some time to answer a few questions for the Duke Career Center about career paths, networking, and the job search for the live event industry.

What types of opportunities (e.g. career paths, roles, offices) are in the entertainment industry?

There are many different career routes when it comes to entertainment from for-profit to non-profit, music, comedy, musical theater, fine arts, dance, sports, and all things that fall into “live show biz.” There are also separate segments of the entertainment industry closely related to live entertainment that include exhibitions, mass media and the music industry. Potential careers could include roles in management, ticketing, marketing, programming, production, sales, community relations/education or operations/event services at venues (stadiums, arenas, amphitheaters, theaters and clubs) that promote acts or house sports teams. You could also work from various behind-the-scenes roles that include publicists and press agencies, tour promoters (such as NS2, AEG) and artist management.

Describe a DPAC “dream intern.”
Our dream intern is someone passionate about entertainment with an enthusiasm that is evident in his or her work, ideas and goals. We look for self-starters that aren’t just here to complete their hours, but who want to be a part of actively contributing to a collaborative team.  We want a student who can take a task, think outside the box to apply their vision, communicates their needs and can present/enact a plan on a specified deadline.

How can students best utilize their time in college to gain relevant experience in this industry?
I think the best experience you can have is to work in the industry. Whether that takes the form of an internship or a part-time job, if you have a desire to work in live entertainment get your foot in the door and start building connections with the individuals who hold or hire for the jobs you want. Raleigh-Durham has a very diverse arts and entertainment scene that contains a lot of opportunities to volunteer and seek out different perspectives within the industry. Even on a local level, the industry is very interconnected and tight-knit with the national industry as a whole.

Use your resources available to you as a student to learn the trends within industry and start preparing yourself with the appropriate tools and knowledge. Apply what you’re learning in classes and delve into blogs and trade publications such as Venues Today, Pollstar, and Billboard that give you an eye into what’s going on in entertainment as a whole.

What is the best way to network and find great internships or jobs in live entertainment?
Target where you have an interest in working and seek out internships, then use your time as an intern wisely to network with as many people as possible. While in college, I interned for two years at two different departments within the Carolina Hurricanes NHL organization. When it came time for me to leave the Hurricanes, a director from a department I had never worked with lined up an interview that helped me walk into my current position at DPAC right out of college. You never know who is watching you and how they might be able to serve as a resource for you.

The entertainment industry is very inter-connected with competitors utilizing each other to fill positions of all levels. I would estimate that 50 percent of entry-level jobs are never posted externally as organizations seek to hire from their pool of interns or through their network of contacts with in the industry.

What is your favorite part about working in live entertainment?
I love the buzz that comes from working a show-night, regardless of the genre of music. Seeing people make memories that last a lifetime and knowing that I got to have a part in helping them get there is quite fulfilling. My position also allows for a fast-paced and challenging work environment that provides a great deal of professional growth and room to apply a range of strategies and new technologies, so I also never have an opportunity to get bored.

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