Should You Be Stressing About Your Job Search?


Every fall, the campus descends into a corporate frenzy. Immediately after O-Week ends, students in dark suits start popping up all over campus, and the environment at the Career Center becomes increasingly corporate. Until my senior year as a public policy major, I considered myself relatively immune to the consulting rush and stress that accompanies it.  I looked at the uncomfortable suit-clad students, some being my fellow Public Policy classmates, with relative indifference knowing I would never be interested in any finance or consulting.

Despite knowing that the jobs I was looking at would not open until the early winter and spring, as my friends started to stress about finding jobs, I began to question whether I should be doing more. Should I be applying to something? Attending more events? Preparing for an imminent interview?

Understanding the industry you are going into.

Larger companies can allocate more resources toward recruiting and hiring. In addition to majoring in public policy, my two certificates are in Human Rights and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. During my time at Duke, I have mostly worked at nonprofits and smaller companies, and when they are looking to hire interns for the summer, they only have one to two spots available. The same goes for looking for a job, not all companies have the resources to recruit on campus, or they are only hiring for a few positions, and logistically, it does not make sense to recruit. The benefit is that no, you’re not missing out on something, but more legwork is required on your end to seek out these companies.

Using this time to prepare.

Even if the applications for the job or internship you’re interested in has not been posted or opened, working on your resume or LinkedIn will make you better prepared. Creating a list of potential companies you would be interested in working for or application deadlines is an efficient way to use this time and give a better picture of your job search process.

A time of exploration.

A huge benefit of the downtime you have while others are in the thick of recruitment is career exploration. The Duke Alumni Directory and Duke University LinkedIn alumni are great resources to explore the career options out there for an industry you’re interested in or with your major. Meeting with a career adviser or attending Career Center events are great ways to fine-tune your interests while strategically preparing to apply for a job/internship. If you haven’t declared your major or are still deciding, the What Can I Do With This Major? website is useful in seeing the different career paths available for different majors.

Overall, know that if you do not see what you want to do or if you’re feeling pressure to start looking for a job–there is time, and there will be other opportunities. The job market is diverse and operates year-round, not just in the fall.