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Career Planning

Is Your LinkedIn Profile Ready for Networking?

You made a LinkedIn profile, but now what? Are you ready for networking?

Take these steps to be sure that your profile is strong, professional, and represents you well to prospective employers, network connections, and others in your field!

1. Do you have a professional photo?
LinkedIn is not a place for selfies and party pictures with your friend cropped out. Make sure your LinkedIn picture is a picture of just you and is appropriate for a professional setting. It’s a good idea to ask a staff member, a faculty member, or an honest friend whether your picture is a suitable professional representation of you!

2. Do you have a strong heading?
When you appear in search results, your heading is the first thing that appears under your name. “Student at Duke University” might be seem like the easy way out, but it doesn’t set you apart from thousands of others who fit that same descriptor. Instead, consider listing a leadership position, or an internship position title for your heading. Better yet, create a 6-word professional story to use as a creative and personalize descriptor.

3. Have you customized your URL?
If you have a strong LinkedIn profile, you can share the URL on social media, in your email signature, and even on your resume. You can edit your URL by pushing the profile “edit” button, and then editing the URL link found right under your picture.

4. What’s your summary?
Students often overlook the summary text box, but this is the opportunity to tell your unique story in a way that highlights what’s important to you. Telling a story that sets you apart, articulating your strengths or skills, and communicating your goals are all appropriate ways to use this section effectively. Still not sure what to write? Check out others’ profiles for ideas!

5. Are you sharing media?
Do you have a picture of your engineering project or a PowerPoint of a great presentation that you gave? The LinkedIn platform allows you to share multimedia that documents your work and your skills, making your profile more visually appealing and interactive than a printed resume could ever be.

6. Who’s in your network?
LinkedIn is most effective if you are using it for its powerful networking capability! Connect with people you’ve worked with in the past, your friends, family members, classmates, professors, staff, people you meet at conferences, etc. etc. Joining groups is a great way to quickly build your network as well. Be sure to check out the Duke University Alumni Network group, other Duke-affiliated groups, as well as those relevant to your professional interests to start!

7. Post relevant content!
To increase your level of activity and interaction with connections, post articles, blog entries, and other resources relevant to your fields and interests. Sharing information and content will inspire discussion and will help you to remain well connected and visible to your network.

Be sure to check out LinkedIn’s page for students to learn more about using maximizing the site’s student-oriented features and entry-level job boards.

For questions about how to make your LinkedIn profile stronger or learning how to use it as an effective networking tool, be sure to visit the Career Center during drop-in advising or by setting up an appointment by calling our office at 919-660.1050.


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Integration Engineer at Epic

Q & A with Chelsea Wezensky ’14, Integration Engineer at Epic

Your hometown: Livonia, MI
Your graduation date: May 2014
Your major (and any minors + certificates): Computer Science B.A., Russian Language & Culture minor, Markets and Management Certificate
Your current job (title, employer, city, state): EDI/Integration Engineer, Epic, Madison, WI

Did you know what you wanted to do going into your senior year?
Did I know what I was going to major in when I entered Duke? Nope. Was I certain of my major when I declared it? Not really. Did I have any idea what to do with my Computer Science degree once it was declared? Not a clue.

The search for internships wasn’t nearly as daunting. An internship lasts a predetermined, limited period of time, while Duke waits patiently for my return. If the internship was amazing, great; If it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, no harm done, since I was in no way bound to it.

A job, on the other hand, is the start of the rest of your life, and this end date isn’t for more than forty years.

When I arrived at Duke, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I took it for granted that I would find my passion. Isn’t that what everyone says? That college is a time to explore things and find yourself? That must mean that when I exited Duke, I would know myself and my passions, right?

Yet, as I entered my senior year, I realized that I did not magically know exactly it was that I wanted with my life. I quickly realized that I had no idea at all.

If not, how did you figure it out?
It was a huge wake-up call, realizing that I was entering my senior year without a sense of direction. I immediately scheduled a Career Center appointment, and compiled a list of all of my questions and concerns.

It was quite a long list.

I met with Katie, one of the career counselors, and she helped me through all of my concerns, during that first meeting and throughout the rest of the semester. During our meetings, she equipped me with the tools to narrow my job search and start to determine where my interests and strengths actually lay. I also used DukeConnect to reach out to a Duke alum whose degree and background seemed to align with my interests. These avenues allowed me to gain a better understanding of technical careers and how I fit in with it, and more importantly, that no matter what my first step was, I was not bound to it for the entirety of my career.

What was the most challenging part of your job search?
In truth, the hardest part of the entire job search was just starting. Once I actually determined what my elevator speech was and how to update my resume, searching for jobs became easier and I was able to build momentum. Career fair? No problem! Interviews? Yes, I can speak about my experiences!

What was the best part of your job search?
The best part of my job search was definitely receiving my job offer. At that point, I had interviewed at enough places to know what I was looking for in an employer, and how to identify when a company wasn’t a good fit. When I went to my on-campus interview at Epic, it finally felt right, and I was excited at the possibilities that it provided. The culmination of this entire process was easily one of the best parts of my entire senior year. A new job is always exciting, being able to confidently commit to my next step was all the more important given how lost I was at the beginning of the semester.


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Greetings Duke community,

I’m Ross Wade, a new assistant director at the Career Center; my portfolio area is media, arts and entertainment, and I’m so excited to join such an excellent team of career professionals!

I’m a Bull City native, and I love all things Durham!  Prior to becoming a career counselor I lived in Chicago, New York City, and Raleigh where I worked in a variety of media industries including documentary, television, digital media, and strategic communications. You may have seen me on Law and Order…okay, probably not…I was just a production assistant asked to step in as “atmosphere” (an extra) for a single episode (I played a hobo)…but I rocked it!

For more information about my professional background, check me out on LinkedIn. When I’m not working with students, I enjoy documenting Durham via Instagram and writing/blogging on career development issues for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) blog and for my personal blog. Did I mention I’m a social media geek?

(Downtown Durham – Ross Wade)

I thought I’d share with all of you some of my favorite art/media/nerd-out!/career-related resources (blogs, videos, etc.), so y’all can get a better idea of my career counseling philosophy and point of view  - maybe some of you will enjoy and/or find meaning in these resources as well.

#1 – Ira Glass on storytelling. This is a short, two-minute, video of Ira Glass discussing the process of beginning a creative career (or anything creative). It is inspiring and reminds us that it takes time and persistence to grow a skill. Check out the video here.

#2 – Brain Pickings Blog. This is my favorite blog. If you are unfamiliar with this blog and Maria Popova you are in for a treat! Popova describes her blog as “a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich your mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful.” Check it out here.

#3 – Everything is a Remix. Kirby Ferguson’s website is fantastic with a video series on how life and innovation is nothing but a series of remixes. The remix formula? Copy + transform + combine. I love this idea because it reflects the importance of a liberal arts education and learning through experience (like internships!). Learn (college), then practice (experiential learning), then create and innovate (make your mark on the world!). Check out Ferguson’s website here.

#4 – 99U. Based on Thomas Edison’s quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” 99U posts content to provide the “missing curriculum” to make ideas happen. Interested in career issues, innovation, achievement, and dealing with failure, along with a gazillion other interesting topics? Check out this killer website.

As you can probably tell, I’m big on interdisciplinary learning - just like Duke University (e.g. Duke STEAM Challenge, Bass Connections).

My favorite career advice? I read it on Brain Pickings; Hunter S. Thompson’s thoughts on purpose and living a meaningful life “…look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living within that way of life.”

I’m looking forward to seeing you at various Duke arts/media/entertainment activities, AND at the Career Center. To schedule an appointment with me, or any of the other career counselors, call the Career Center front desk at 919-660-1050.

Tags: careercenter,arts,entertainment,careeradvisor,duke,durham,media,sports,international,


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Going from internship ambiguity to internship OPPORTUNITY!

My first internship was incredible. It didn’t start out that way, but I was able to turn it around. Here’s the thing. I like structure…okay…I love structure. My first internship? Zero structure. I was interning at a small documentary production company in New York City, working with an award winning filmmaker – she was a genius, and needed assistance, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with me. So the first couple of weeks I did a lot of grunt work. Getting coffee, organizing computer files, answering an email now and then…it was a snooze-fest, and I was getting frustrated because I didn’t feel like I was learning anything. I also worried that I was frustrating my supervisor because I wasn’t meeting her needs. It was total intern ambiguity, and I didn’t like it at all. But, like I said, I was able to turn it around – here’s how I did it.

Look, listen, and learn. – The first glimmer of hope came when I started observing what was going on in the office—noticing challenges that continually popped up and were discussed. I noticed my supervisor was running around Manhattan most of the day picking up equipment and completing errands, while her email inbox grew at an astonishing rate. On several occasions I overheard conversations that more grant money was needed to complete the projects that were currently in production.  I also noticed communication challenges between the associate producer and the crew regarding call times and locations. All of these challenges meant opportunity for me as an intern.

Create solutions. – It’s easy to find problems; the hard part is finding solutions. I knew that if I could help solve some of the challenges my supervisor was having, I’d be an intern superstar, so I created a list of the challenges I noticed with my proposed solutions and scheduled a meeting with my supervisor to discuss them.

My solution to the wasted time my supervisor spent on the road running errands? I asked her if I could do them for her—that way she could stay in the office, answer important emails, and make calls to possible funders. I wanted to learn the city better anyway and make some connections with production equipment rental companies, so it was great solution for both of us. 

The grant money issue? I went into grant research mode, and created a list of high potential grant funding opportunities along with deadlines and application requirements. This was such a wonderful learning experience for me as I learned how most documentaries are funded, the best resources to use and how to prepare grant proposals.

The communication issue between the associate producer and crew? I created and utilized a password-protected web calendar for everyone to access and edit as needed. This solution worked much better than making separate calls multiple times a day—we could access the calendar, in “real time,” any time of day to get the information we needed. The associate producer was so impressed she called a couple of her colleagues and connected me to some freelance production assistant gigs throughout the summer (more great experience and some extra money!).

By paying attention, understanding critical challenges, and creating solutions (skills employers highly seek) I was able to create a structured and meaningful internship experience. At the end of my internship I was offered a full-time job and was told I was the best intern she ever had. 

For more tips on internship success, check out the Career Center Internship Guide.


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Career Development, the U.S. Job Search, and International Students

CHALLENGE: Lack of understanding the U.S. job search.

I see it over and over again. Students from across the globe begin their U.S. college experience thinking that the job-search process will be just like it is in their home country. Most of the time that process is something like: make great grades, study hard for the final test, and the higher your test score (and grades), the better job you get. And the employers will come to you! It is all about grades, and working toward being top of your class. There is little to no focus on networking or getting hands-on experience (though many of my Chinese students acquire a one month “internship,” which is more like an observational externship experience). Many international students have no idea about the U.S. job search, and that it is focused more on professional experience and relationships than grades.

Read more.


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Be brave, be persistent and be myself: Walking on the road to my dream career

As a person who wants to study policy related to mental health and make a change back in China, I felt that I needed some advice on my career development from experts. This led me to the Duke Career Center where I met Paul Miceli.
I came from mainland China, and I received my M.A. degree in Economics in Fall 2012. After years of being a full-time student and planning to pursue a Ph.D. in public health, I preferred to take a gap year to explore my real interests while also preparing for my Ph.D. application. 

I joked with Paul that I was on a road less traveled because I was not interested in finding a full-time job but, instead, collaborating with faculty members to do research on mental health. This is particularly challenging for a student whose background is economics! I made appointments with Paul about once a week for almost three months, and we carefully discussed all my options and strategies.

At the beginning, Paul and I worked on looking for a lab with a focus on mental illnesses. I found out that I would need many of the same skills as someone looking for a full-time job or internship. Sometimes you really need to be brave in order to network with people and ask for informational interviews. I contacted my psychology professors and asked for information about their colleagues who are interested in the study of serious mental illness. I read professors’ websites, emailed them, and luckily received many responses. I went to their offices with my questions and research interests. I participated in conferences and I even found out that one professor randomly sitting next to me had similar research interests. I asked him for his contact information and followed up afterwards. Many times I felt nervous and even shaky before I walked into an office and handed out my resume and answered the question, “Why is a Master of Economics interested in mental health issues?” Through those conversations though, I developed a better understanding of the field I really wanted to make a difference in.

Along the way I’ve found that it is very important to have an advisor to be accountable to, and this is especially true for me because I had a big plan but no idea how to prioritize my actions. I tracked all my actions with a spreadsheet and asked for suggestions from Paul. Paul is very insightful and always straightforwardly pointed out the naïve points of my plan, but was also always encouraging.

Life is just like a puzzle game. You need to get many pieces and put them together, and surprisingly I’ve found my beautiful picture. That is, my desired destination. The most important thing is to be brave - do not be shy! A professor at Duke told me not everyone is clear about their dreams, so if they know a person who finds their dream and has passion for it, others usually are happy to help that person chase his or her dream. I have found my dream, and I know that many people are eager to help me achieve it.

Over the past year, extensive networking and perseverance has led to a coauthored academic article, a research position in the Department of Psychiatry, and many useful connections and relationships. I’ve also become the founder of an organization committed to helping depressed persons in mainland China. The skills and tools that I’ve utilized over the past year have been invaluable to getting me where I am today, and I know that I’ll continue using them throughout my career journey, wherever that may lead me.


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Recent Ph.D. alum talks about her successful job search

Starting at an early point in the course of my Ph.D., I was very aware that I did not want to pursue an academic career path. In fact, I had a good idea of this before I even started graduate school. During the final semester of my senior year at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, I took a science policy course that involved directly lobbying congressional offices for a chosen scientific issue of personal interest. Cold-calling and meeting with legislative assistants for some of the biggest names on Capitol Hill was an intimidating process, but it was also eye-opening for me. To my surprise, people listened to us, and my group was actually able to get our issue, which was a grant program to promote green buildings on academic campuses, included in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That experience brought to my attention a whole different side of science: the policy and administrative side.

When I first applied to graduate school, I was probably guilty of doing so because, like many of us, in some part I did not know what else to do with myself after college. I had done bench research throughout my undergraduate career and enjoyed it, and thought it would be great to get more research experience, but I don’t think I had a good grasp of what a Ph.D. could realistically do for me. However, as I entered Duke in the fall to get my Ph.D. in molecular genetics and microbiology fresh off of my flirtation with science policy, I was invigorated by the fact that there were clearly many avenues available for a trained scientist. In retrospect, I think that knowing early on that I probably did not plan to enter academia was rather freeing; when you are narrowly focused on an academic career, it can be a hard process to let go and consider other options, as I saw with people around me.

As I transitioned from a first-year to a senior graduate student, I felt extremely fortunate to be at a place like Duke: the graduate school made constant and tangible efforts to expose students to alternative career paths, whether in non-academic research or other roles. I was also lucky to have an advisor who was very supportive of me having a non-academic career. As my sixth and final year approached, I started to frequently attend seminars, career fairs, and information sessions for companies. I also started to work with the Duke Career Center to develop my resume, explore job possibilities, and find out more about interviewing. As I worked with my career counselor, consulting came up on my radar fairly quickly and initially seemed quite attractive to me as a great way to implement the analytical and creative thinking skills that I had acquired in grad school in new and different settings. My career counselor and I combed through consulting job listings, and I also spent time on the Duke eRecruiting site to find openings. I identified a number of possibilities, had my resume reviewed and tailored by my counselor, and enthusiastically applied to several companies including some of the “Big 3,” a healthcare consulting firm, and a niche pharmaceutical consulting company. I was surprised to find that I got interviews with two companies, but I was also quite worried, as I had no background with case studies. I conducted practice case study interviews at the Career Center ahead of my interviews, which was a very useful prep tool, although one that should be utilized starting far in advance of potential interviews to give plenty of time for multiple sessions and studying. I interviewed with very nice people at both companies, but I knew walking out from both that I was unlikely to get an offer, and furthermore I was unsure whether I’d want one. However, I chalked up both interviews as good learning experiences.

Soon after those interviews, I started writing my thesis and getting ready to defend in the spring, and I knew that the job search needed to get serious. Having learned a lot about how to conduct a job search through my time at the Career Center, I looked into various science policy positions, and knowing that I liked scientific writing and editing and had a strong background in both, I also applied to several editor jobs at scientific journals as well as scientific and medical writing positions. On the advice of my career counselor as well as my thesis committee, I had a few informational interviews with people in the scientific writing field to find out more about potential opportunities that weren’t immediately apparent to me, and I was interested in a potential career in that direction, but I wanted to look at other options too.

Right after I defended, I had a fortuitous opportunity find its way into my inbox. My advisor, who was very enthusiastic about helping me find a job, forwarded me an internal email from the Duke Human Vaccine Institute  (DVHI) that mentioned they had one or two scientific management positions open and were looking for newly-defended graduate students who wanted to start a non-academic track career. As soon as I saw it, something clicked. I had always enjoyed the administrative roles that I had taken on in the lab—keeping things running smoothly was very fulfilling to me—and I hadn’t ever considered a science management position before because, despite all my exposure to alternative career paths, I didn’t realize that jobs like that existed for new Ph.D.s. Additionally, for personal reasons I was keen to stay in the Durham area, and loved the idea of remaining at Duke. I immediately emailed the head of the DHVI to express my interest, and I was told that day that they’d like me to come in for an interview within the next week or two. One month later, I started at the DHVI.

I am learning how to manage large-scale grants, which entails tracking experimental progress, financial progress, coordinating members of the consortia associated with each grant, coordinating shipments of materials, helping to plan studies, and many other tasks. The skills that I will acquire in this job are incredibly useful and applicable in any management position, and I am very confident that I made the right choice to go in this direction for my first job and to build a strong foundation for my career. Overall, by far the most important part of my job search was finding someone, in this case my advisor, who was connected into a network and could send potential jobs my way. Additionally, I found that it is important to consider job avenues when they come along that you might not have realized you were interested in. You never know how various aspects of your graduate career, in this case some of the laboratory administrative work that I was involved with, turn out to be the tasks you most enjoy and want to pursue.

Samantha Bowen is currently the Program Manager at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.


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Becoming Part of the Career Ambassador Team

Towards the end of my sophomore year I decided that I liked the Career Center so much, that I wanted to work there. So, I applied to become a member of the Career Ambassador Team. In case you don’t know, the Career Ambassador Team (CATS as we prefer to be called) is a group of students who serve as liaisons between the Career Center and the undergraduate community. We assist students with resume and cover letter writing, do presentations regarding the Career Center around campus, and help employers when they come for on campus recruiting events. If any of that sounds like a plug for you to come and join the Career Ambassador Team next year, it definitely is. As you can probably tell, after I applied for CATS, I was accepted, and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career. I say this because working and being in the Career Center has its perks. It’s like yeah, the Career Center is a great resource to help you navigate your time at Duke and prepare for the real world, but at the same time there are just some great people there who really want you to succeed. I know that sounds cliché, but it is the truth.

As both a student and CAT I have had the opportunity to sit down with the different advisors and talk about everything from bad resume writing habits to the release date of my favorite movies, and I have done all of this while receiving a constant stream of love and support from those around me. And I’m so serious about that--Cindy literally jumped out of her seat when I told her about a summer program I got into back in May. Was I expecting that? No. But who doesn’t love making others happy, and knowing that someone is supporting you. And that is what you get when you come into the Career Center. It’s not just about getting some quick tips on how you can better address the fact that you built a jetpack over the summer, or whatever fantastic thing you did during your internship. It’s about meeting someone (and by someone I mean everyone in the Career Center) who wants nothing but success for you, and then clinging to them for dear life! I’m kidding. But it is really about fostering a relationship with people who genuinely want to see you succeed. These days as I finish up my time here at Duke as an undergrad, you can still likely catch me in the Career Center talking to undergraduate career counselor Nikki Smith about one of our favorite tv shows Parks and Recreation. #TreatYoSelf to some time in the Career Center.


In the fall, Ashley will be heading back to her home city of Los Angeles and attending UCLA in pursuit of a Masters in Public Health.


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Why the Career Center has been one of my Biggest Supporters

Arriving at Duke, I pretty much had my dirt bike to success juiced up and ready to go. I was going to be pre-med, major in biology, participate in a few extracurricular activities and, of course, have some fun along the way. Fast forward to the middle of the spring semester of sophomore year and there I am, walking out of the Academic Advising Center, a freshly declared African and African American Studies major with a minor in history. Who would have known? Not I. To put things in perspective, organic chemistry and I were in a very rocky relationship and I was slowly coming to realize that a desire to work in healthcare did not have to translate into just being a doctor. So, I was at a crossroads. Should I completely drop the whole pre-med thing, or just give it a break and come back to it later?

One random day, later that semester, I got an email from the Career Center talking about Drop-In Advising. Now to be completely honest, I used to delete those emails every single time I received them. It was like, “Really? How many career fairs can you have in one semester?” But then I thought, since I really don’t know what to do with my career/academic pathway let me go and talk to somebody. *Cue dramatic music* And that’s when everything changed.

On some fateful day in early March I had my first Career Center advising appointment with Cindy Broderius. Now let me tell you this. If you ever, ever ever, ever, need a pick me up, go and see this woman. By the time I walked out of her office, I could have sworn I was Oprah. In the hour that I spent with Cindy, I realized that I still had time to get my act together with the whole pre-med thing, and that organic chemistry and I still had a fighting chance with our relationship. I walked out of the Career Center that day having renewed my passion for the so-called pre-med struggle and a new friend and source of support. What I did not realize then, however, was that there were tons of people just like Cindy in the Career Center waiting to make students feel like Oprah, Obama, or any other powerful figure who fits your fancy.


Subscribe to the blog and check out how Ashley further engaged with the Career Center and became part of the Career Ambassador Team.


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