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Career Center

Career Center

Finding on-campus employment

Many students work during their time at Duke, holding jobs in a wide range of locations and environments. Finding campus employment is an important part of your professional development as you prepare to launch your career—you will likely engage in the same processes you’ll use for finding internships and post-graduate jobs, e.g., creating job-search strategies, preparing professional application documents, interviewing, developing skills and attributes that contribute to strong job performance and others.

Information on work-study funding for both undergraduate and graduate students is available from the Duke Financial Aid Office. Refer to the Work Study section of their site for information specific to this type of financial aid. The job search process is the same for both work-study and non-work-study positions.

Resources to assist and guide you in the process
On-campus Job Search Resources
• Browse DukeList, a centralized listing of campus opportunities, to identify potential jobs.
• Check The Chronicle classified section for job ads.
Network! Talk to friends and upperclassmen with on-campus jobs and find out how they landed their positions.
• Identify places on campus where you might like to work and approach the department or organization directly. View the index of Trinity departments, departments in Student Affairs or directories for specific schools to get started.
• Be aware of fliers, bulletin board postings and “word-of-mouth” advertising.
Think broadly—consider academic departments, student services departments, shops, restaurants or any place where business is taking place.
Sampling of on-campus employers: Duke Recreation and Physical Education, Duke University Libraries and Nasher Museum of Art
• Consider Durham Community Employers funded by federal work study.
American Reads, America Counts and Duke University Community Service Center
• Refer to the Employment Fact Sheets from the International House if you are an international student or scholar for guidance in navigating U.S. policies and procedures.

Professional Communication: Inquiring About a Job
You may respond to a job posting of interest on DukeList or reach out to a department to inquire about possible jobs. Recognize that your first email to a potential employer will make an important first impression!
• Use professional salutations, e.g. “Dear Dr. Smith” or “Dear Hiring Manager” to begin your email message.
• Write a clear, concise note introducing yourself and expressing interest in a position.
• Close your email with a professional signature, including both first and last name, class status and contact information (this helps the reader identify you).

Professional Application Documents: Resume and Cover Letter
Most employers will ask for a resume and many will also ask for a cover letter when you apply for jobs.
• Be sure both documents are tools to show how your skills and experience fit your job of interest.
• Refer to Career Center Resume and Cover Letter Skills Guides for tips and templates to assist you in the process of creating these documents.
• Visit the Career Center’s Drop-in Advising (during the academic year) for review of your resume and/or cover letter. Schedule an appointment if it is over break or during the summer.

Professional Communication: Interviewing
An employer may want to interview you as part of their selection process, so be prepared!
• Review the Career Center Interviewing Skills Guide to learn tips for developing strong interviewing skills as well as sample questions that may be asked during an interview.
• Practice crafting a response to the question “Tell me about yourself.”

Professional Behavior: Attitudes and Character
Campus employment is an excellent way to establish good work habits you can carry into internships and jobs after graduation. Qualities such as timeliness, dependability, collaboration and good work ethic are characteristics ALL employers are seeking in their employees, on-campus or in “the real world.”
Get a start on developing these attributes even during part-time work in college!
Learn to connect your campus job to broader career exploration or planning by scheduling an appointment with your career advisor, (919) 660-1050.


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Possibilities in the in between: Helping humanity through technology

Ali Habib, Fulbright Scholar and 2009 graduate of the Duke Master of Engineering Management Program (MEMP), headed home to Karachi after graduation with aspirations of finding a way to bridge his technical expertise with his desire to give back to the people of Pakistan. In the years following his return to Pakistan he has been able to do exactly that. As the Director of Informatics at Interactive Research and Development (IRD), a nonprofit, public health research and service delivery group, Ali has found ways to use cellular phone technology to create efficient methods for health researchers to collect data and manage patient care.

By using the cellular phone technology that Ali’s group developed, researchers are able to collect health data in the field more easily and with greater accuracy than they could using paper forms. The elimination of human error, inconsistencies and paper documents allows for more efficient data transfer. In addition, Ali’s company has created a way to centralize patient files via cellular phone so that a network of healthcare providers can clearly understand a patient’s treatment history.

Thanks in large part to Ali and his IT team, IRD has been incredibly successful in leveraging cellular phone technology not only in Pakistan, but in other parts of the developing world as well. They try to use open-source software and technology whenever possible to ensure that developing countries can access and use their research and records tools. According to Ali, the thinking behind that effort is, “if they can’t pay for medicine, they obviously can’t pay for software licenses.” These global efforts have been widely recognized and have earned IRD significant funding from organizations like the Stop TB Partnership, but they aspire to fund even more advancements and access for these tools.

Under Ali’s lead, the IT sector has recently spun off into a for-profit company, Interactive Health Solutions, in order to help fund even more research in the nonprofit sector. Ali has transitioned from Director of Informatics to CEO and hopes to continue using cellular technology to improve health outcomes in the developing world. Ali considers himself to be very fortunate to have found such a happy balance between technology and human interest, “I never thought I would be writing code to improve health. I have been very lucky.” Lucky to find that sometimes, opportunities lay in making your own possibilities.


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5 Ingredients for Imagining Possibility: Finding Your Shine

It may seem simple, but knowing ourselves is often times the starting place for knowing our potential. In addition to having a good sense of our talents, our passions and our wants, we need to know what makes us shine. Last summer, I had the chance to spend a week with Dr. Claudia Beeny. A higher education game-changer and someone who has spent a lot of time with college students, Dr. Beeny decided to leave the field and help people all across the planet do what they can to find their shine. Her insight into living in a state of possibility and knowing the range of opportunities that await after leaving Duke are key ingredients for imagining the possibilities.
From Dr. Beeny’s insight there are five key tips for you to consider as you continue to live in a state of possibility.

Courage is Key
When asked how better understanding yourself helps you imagine the possibilities for your career, Dr. Beeny noted, “Courage is important because sometimes following that path requires choices others might consider unconventional and impractical.” She also talks of how using this courage will assist you in having tough conversations with parents, other family members and friends who may not understand why you are making the decision you are.

Experience is the Best Teacher
Dr. Beeny gives feedback to what she would tell her “college-self” about living in a state of possibility. Here, she comments,
It is easy to believe that the volunteer or leadership positions you hold in college are unimportant or that the work-study or teaching assistant job you have is just a means to an end. What I continue to realize, as the scope of my work gets bigger, is that each of my prior experiences has in some shape or form provided me skills and knowledge that I have later drawn upon.
Dr. Beeny notes how experiences from the past set the foundation for your future, so whether it is an interesting class, involvement in a student organization or a great conversation with a professor, each experience informs what you do next. If you keep these fresh and take time to reflect, you will see more and more opportunities exist outside what you may believe.

Do What You Enjoy
Dr. Beeny notes she is lucky to have parents, family and a community that supports her in her endeavors. Ask yourself,
Do I have a community that supports me being who I want to be…In college I sought opportunities I enjoyed and those led to other opportunities, and eventually jobs, which I enjoyed. The focus on enjoyment is important, because when we like what we do, we are more likely to be good at it. And, when we are good at what we do, we are much more inclined to get noticed and be given future opportunities.
As you can see here, taking the chance and time to do what you are good at will lead to other opportunities and allow you to live in a state of possibility.

Allow Your Mind to Wander
Beeny describes the importance of disconnecting from all the distractions we see everyday: cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, etc and find time to be alone with your own thoughts. It’s a muscle that often isn’t worked, but can really help you be creative and live in a state of possibility.
To execute that means doing two things. First, find time every week to disconnect from the steady barrage of people and things vying for your time and second, make time to read. I find the silence I need by taking regular walks. I don’t run or bike or listen to headphones. I don’t even alter my route or invite a friend to join me. The time alone, walking a familiar path and without music or a podcast being streamed in through my headphones, allows my mind to wander. This is when I make connections, solve problems, and see things with a fresh set of eyes.

Give it 10,000 Hours
Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book, Outliers, writes about the concept of 10,000 hours,
He asserts that what makes someone like Tiger Woods or Steve Jobs extraordinary (shine) at his work is not genetics or luck, but simply logging 10,000 hours of experience at whatever it is your are doing. In retrospect, I realize that all the free workshops I provided night after night in residence halls across campus, all the reading and preparation I did for those workshops, all the leadership positions I held and projects I coordinated were in many ways helping me log some of the 10,000 hours I needed to be successful later.
Beeny takes this principle to heart and dedicates her time to perfecting where she finds success.

So, take it from the doctor…dedicate time, allow your mind to wander, and do what you enjoy. Three ingredients you can add to your experience that will assist in living in a state of possibility.


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Nine Domains to Find Your Fit

It is both challenging and exciting to imagine your career options. For one thing, your career is and will continue to be multi-faceted, just like you! Whether you are working on your next move, or figuring out your longer-term aspirations, you will gain traction by fleshing out nine intersecting domains, or elements, that comprise your career.

Spend time with the questions below; each refers to a specific domain related to your personal career fulfillment. You do not need to work all of this out in one sitting, but we do encourage you to put your thoughts on paper. Free yourself to be in the present moment with an understanding that your answers to these questions will change over time. This can be a great starting point for an intentional conversation with a career counselor or member of your Board of Advisors.

In what areas of knowledge, intellectual, personal, experiential, can you claim a particularly strong grasp and find great enjoyment?
What do you want to learn next?
What do you ultimately want to know?

What can you do well?
Among your capabilities, which do you enjoy using?  Which do you prefer NOT to use?
What skills do you wish to acquire in the short- and long-term?

What do you want to accomplish in the short- and long-term?

What are your personal and work values and how do you want them to intersect with your work?
Which of your values do you want to hold in common with the people with whom you work?

In what physical environments do you thrive?
In what physical environments do you struggle?

What types of relationships do you want in your work (with colleagues, managers, constituents, customers, etc.)?
Who do you envision your colleagues to be?

What kind of financial compensation do you need or want?
What sorts of benefits or perks are important to you?
What do you want to learn in your work?
What are the sources of your joy?

Where do you want to be?
What geographic factors are important to you?

Challenges and Barriers:
What real difficulties do you see ahead for you?


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Duke Ph.D. follows passion and entrepreneurial spirit to successful career in industry

I came to Duke Graduate School straight out of undergrad.  Despite lacking a clear idea of what I wanted to do, I was fortunate to find great mentors in the Biochemistry department.  Renowned professors like David and Jane Richardson and Terry Oas helped me grow and develop as a scientist.  I also learned about the life of a young professor by watching those just starting at Duke.  Although potentially rewarding, it's a hard road and I wasn't excited enough to commit to it.  I found I was more passionate about science with an immediate commercial application.  So I choose a postdoc that would move me closer to industry, and even collaborated on a paper with a team at GlaxoSmithKline.

As a grad student at Duke, I also discovered that printing research posters was expensive and inconvenient.  In response, I started a small printing company on the side.  PhD Posters was launched with two fellow graduate students, and has since grown to five locations and pulled in other Duke grads.  Duke was a very supportive environment for that kind of entrepreneurial experimentation at the time, and with the development of the Duke Startup Challenge and other programs, it's even better today.  After my postdoc, that basic business experience and my Duke connections helped me land at a biotech startup helmed by Duke professor Philip Benfey.  At GrassRoots, we brought diverse backgrounds to bear on interesting problems, and ended up creating exciting and valuable new technologies.  GrassRoots was recently acquired by Monsanto, where I now continue my research.

Ten years ago, I couldn't foresee this journey -- I mostly followed my passion.  I had my share of good luck along the way, but the solid training from Duke allowed me to notice and take advantage of those opportunities.  Also, science is a small world, and I continue to cross paths with people I first met at Duke.  Those connections have been far more important than I knew at the time, and I kind of wish I'd paid more attention to them.  I've also been happier at some of these jobs than others, and it's depended much more on my day-to-day environment and activities than on exactly what area I was working in.  So when I'm choosing opportunities, I've learned to focus on what kinds of work I like best.  And one of the things I like best is working with smart people who have backgrounds very different than mine.  Having worlds collide is a great way to see new possibilities and spark creative thinking.  What better environment to strike up that kind of collaboration than a world-class university?  Time at Duke is a priceless opportunity to team up with a diverse group of smart peers, at a time in life when you're uniquely able to take big risks on new ventures.

About the Alumni Imagine Possibilities Series
We asked some alumni to consider what students might need to know about imagining possibilities after Duke—to try to help students broaden their thinking about career choices (beyond what they know).  Throughout the year, we will publish a series of blog posts from alumni sharing what they believe is most helpful.  An easy way to know when a new post comes out is to subscribe to Career News or follow us on social media.


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Non-verbal Skills for Interviewing

Strong interviewing skills are a necessity for obtaining an internship or job in the United States. What you say during an interview is very important, but did you know that your non-verbal behavior, what you don’t say, might be even more important? Many researchers and professionals believe that human communication is 20 percent verbal and 80 percent non-verbal.

Research indicates there are three main things you want to convey, non-verbally, in an interview:
Interest, and

or PIE.

Watch the Career Center’s video about non-verbal communication tips to help you succeed.

Riggio, R.E. (2011). Using Effective Nonverbal Communication in Job Interviews. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 2013 from



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Duke Listed Among Leaders for Peace Corps

Whitney Arey studied abroad three times as a Duke student before graduating in 2012. Now she's abroad again, this time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa.

She's not alone. The Peace Corps announced Tuesday that Duke is back on its list of "top volunteer-producing colleges and universities." Duke currently has 18 alumni serving as volunteers worldwide, placing it No. 16 on the federal agency's list for "medium schools." It last appeared on the list in 2011, at No. 25. Since the Peace Corps was established in 1961, 706 Duke graduates have served among more than 215,000 Americans as volunteers in 139 countries worldwide.

Read more.


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Addressing Controversial Topics in Your Story

Dear Dukie,

Body piercings, tattoos and creative hairstyles can raise eyebrows in some professional circles, and you might be discouraged from displaying them. Religion, race, politics, sexual orientation and marital/parental status are just a few topics you may be cautioned against discussing so as to prevent discrimination and avoid conflict. But what if these controversial things are very important to you?  You have to decide if it is more important to you at this point to follow industry standards or your own.  With so much information out there about topics to avoid when speaking to employers (or applying to graduate school), developing and telling your story can be quite daunting.

Sometimes the issues that we are most passionate about and invested in have stories attached to them that are the riskiest – as well as the most rewarding – to tell.  In fact, some candidates use transparency as a selection tool, i.e., “If they don’t want me as I am, then I don’t want to be there.” and an effective way to measure if they are a good fit for an opportunity.  What and how much you share about yourself is up to you.  You can also adapt the information you share for different opportunities—just remember to take good notes so you don’t get confused later!.  What’s most important is that you own the story you tell to others and are able to use it to support your candidacy.  The confidence you display will be admirable and attractive, even if the evaluator ultimately decides to pass on you.  Either way, you would have practiced telling your intentional, authentic and memorable story—and there is no shame in that!




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Telling your professional story: STEM edition

Storytelling is an important part of the internship and job search. Being able to reflect your skills, experiences, personality and goals to employers is key to making a good impression and getting hired. But what does “storytelling” mean to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) employers? Timothy Brummett (TB), Global Business Services University Recruiting Program Manager at IBM, provides some helpful insights in this Q&A with Ross Wade from the Career Center (CC).

CC: When hiring a new employee or intern what key things are you looking for in an applicant's professional story?

TB: At IBM Global Business Services (GBS), there are many things/competencies that we seek in an applicant's professional story, but for this conversation we'll focus on three key areas:
Strong academic record demonstrated by Grade Point Average (GPA) in major, minor and cumulative.
People/Team leadership skills demonstrated by the roles and contributions inside extracurricular activities, such as students’ clubs/organizations, athletics and charity works.  
Hands on, real-world experiences demonstrated in co-ops, internships, research projects and entrepreneurial works.  Experiences that not only provide insight into the skills they've obtained, but also their potential interests and capabilities—and how they relate to the work we deliver for our customers and clients across the globe.

In short, we're looking for innovative, analytical, logical 'thinkers' and 'doers' who are personable team players working to solve complex problems for their clients.

CC: What things, other than technical skills, should STEM students be highlighting in their professional stories? For example, how important are the student's values and their alignment with your company’s mission/values/culture? How can they best reflect these non-tech parts of themselves?

TB: Every connection between a student and an employer is a mutual learning opportunity.  For STEM students to best highlight the non-technical competencies in their skill sets, I recommend treating each connection with an employer as an opportunity to not only speak to your technical skills, but also prove your soft skills (skill in social interactions, presentation and communications skills and listening skills). These skills help the recruiter envision how you would collaborate with teammates and clients and ultimately, fit into their company’s values and culture.  Additionally, it's very important to provide insight into your short and long-term goals and interests, which will allow the recruiter to envision how you fit into the company’s mission.

CC: What are the best proactive ways for students to share their stories with employers other than simply applying for jobs?

TB: Regardless of how broadly technology enables us, there's no technology that can take away from the emotions found in the connection of human interactions.  Whether it be a career fair, information session or exclusive recruiting event, I strongly encourage students to visit as many employer events as possible utilizing these opportunities to build their “professional/personal brand” in-person.

CC: Why is storytelling, typically associated with non-STEM careers, important for STEM industries?

TB: Employers want and need your technical skills, but they also want and need your soft skills, too.  Storytelling is one of the best ways to provide insight into your soft skills.  There is an “art” to storytelling and those who can clearly articulate and effectively communicate their story and how it relates to the job and company, usually are the most successful in the interview process.


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