Do you ever have that feeling where you already know something to be true, but are still occasionally epiphanically surprised by it? I get that feeling a lot, mostly having to do with simple facts that have become part of the fabric of my everyday life, but are still somehow awe-inspiring.
The way I feel about Duke is a perfect example. I was the first person, at least in the past decade or so, to go to Duke from my high school. Before entering the Duke sphere, I had never been exposed to such a large pool of passionate, high-achieving individuals in my life. Now, almost four years since my acceptance to Duke, I am frequently still struck by all the talent and accomplishment surrounding me on this campus.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been developing a student-produced podcast for the Career Center called GEAR UP. The goal of GEAR UP is to showcase real student summer internship experiences for other students interested in similar positions or fields. When I began this project, I hoped it would come to serve as a useful, first-hand resource to students, but I didn’t anticipate what I would also gain from it.
There’s definitely a stereotype, and more than a few jokes, about Duke students increasingly going into banking or consulting. Don’t get me wrong, we do seem to have more than a few bankers and consultants, but there is undoubtedly a much wider range of interests and fields than just that represented on this campus. I’ve talked to yes, students in both industries, but also to students who interned at zoos, museums, research labs, NGOs, and so on.
What I’ve found is that, shockingly, Duke students are really impressive and really passionate about their work, regardless of whether it's finance or art history. They’re also extremely articulate in describing their internship experiences, analyses, and takeaways. In every interview, I ask students about what surprised them, what they liked or didn’t like about the experience; in every interview, I receive tremendously thoughtful and honest responses.
I think the best part about it for me, as the interviewer, has been the opportunity to meet people I didn’t know at all before, and encountering just a peek into their lives. Sometimes their stories are similar to my own experiences, and sometimes I spend ten minutes learning about an industry or research that I previously knew nothing about. Regardless, listening to someone explain their passion just never gets old.
I guess what I’m saying is that Duke is such a unique place, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by such interesting and insightful young people. We get so used to being in the Duke bubble that I think it’s easy to forget what a privilege, in an infinite number of ways, it is to be a part of this community.
Thank you to everyone who has already agreed to be interviewed for GEAR UP. If you’re interested in sharing your summer internship experience on the podcast, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.