The term business encompasses an array of career paths. In order to explore the diversity of choices and find roles that best suit where your skills and knowledge align, it is essential that you start with reflective thought. Understanding yourself is critical in career planning. The Business Career Options Guide is designed to provide you with a career development framework for charting your own pathways of investigation and exploration of various career options in these areas of business. Expand your thinking about how you and your skills, interests, strengths, and passions can find a career fit in the world of business—imagine the possibilities!
The most important part of your career development process is understanding your values, interests, skills, personality, motivations, and what you have learned from each of your unique experiences. To determine what kind of work you might want to do, you want to continually examine what drives you. By reflecting on each of these pieces, you can get clues about occupations that fit you best.
A Good Place to Start
Review the Self-Inquiry Guide to begin learning more about your skills, knowledge, and interests.
You can schedule an appointment with a career advisor to have a conversation about your career questions and ideas.
Spending time reflecting is a waste of my time. I need to use the time applying to jobs or internships.
Taking time to reflect before diving into applications will help you streamline your job or internship search, improve the strength of your documents, and increase you’re overall confidence in knowing you’re applying to positions that are a good fit for your skills, values, and career goals.
Talk with (or develop) your Board of Directors, those individuals who know you well and could also help you identify and reflect on strengths, patterns, etc. you may not realize about yourself. This information can be part of your discovery process, too!
It is important to do some research before choosing your career path or even just your first job. Research these industries thoroughly to learn about different companies, their competitors, entry-level opportunities, leadership/rotational programs, recruiting practices, requirements and qualifications. Speaking with your Board of Directors and conducting informational interviews can aide your research.
Business roles exist across every industry: arts, sports, healthcare, finance, hospitality, consulting, start-ups, transportation, food, non-profits and more. Everything we do and use in our daily lives relates to business. Every enterprise needs business roles to run and thrive, and for that, every organization needs to be:
- Promoted (marketing/advertising/public relations/sales/business development/client relations)
- Managed (finance/accounting/management/analyst/project management)
- Products/services created (research/development/manufacturing/operations)
- People (recruiting/human resource management)
- Operations (facilities management/supply chain)
Business careers are not limited to finance and consulting. There are jobs and industries that you may never have thought of—like managing public relations for a National Park, or marketing for governmental agencies. Looking at job descriptions, even when you’re not actively seeking a position, can be a good place to give you an idea of what roles exist.
Once you have identified specific job titles that you are curious about, then you can research these job titles on search engines such as LinkedIn.com or Indeed.com. It is important to research to learn about the work they do, the skill set needed and how the position differs between various companies.
As you learn about jobs, you can see what sparks your interest by reading job descriptions, learning more about industries, and then slowly beginning to narrow the field based on where you see alignment between your strengths, interests, and the various roles that exist in the business world.
Resources for learning more about Business Careers
What can I do with this major? - Connects academic majors to possible career paths, typical employers, and strategies designed to maximize career opportunities.
Career Center Networking Guide – Learn the basics of networking and tips for success.
LinkedIn & Duke’s Alumni Network– Search for Duke alums by industry, geography, company, and more. Click here for a video tutorial on creating a strong profile.
Entrepreneurship at Duke—The Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative aims to put ideas into action. They leverage the innovations that grow at the university level to make tangible, perceptible change through entrepreneurship.
Careers in Business—Careers-in-Business.com brings you the latest scoop on various business career areas including jobs, salaries, what people are saying, and entry requirements.
Wall Street Journal—Follow breaking news and headlines on the world’s most important companies.
Duke DFE Recruiting & Career Resources—The DFE hosts a variety of academic and extracurricular programs to increase opportunities for Duke students, alumni, and faculty to engage with each other in the area of financial education.
Hoovers—Navigate the Duke Libraries’ website to access a database and conduct business market research.
Professional Associations & Resources
There are associations for nearly every profession or area of interest and many have national, state and regional chapters available to join. An association is a synergistic group, meaning that the effect of a collection of people is greater than just one person. Here are some benefits of joining an association.
- Enhance your network
- Broaden your knowledge base
- Help to teach you the “language” of an industry
The easiest way to join a professional community is by adding yourself to LinkedIn Groups. Potential employers and recruiters will also see that you are interested in an industry by looking at LinkedIn groups that you join, or the “influencers” who you follow. This is a way to make your profile more complete and strengthen your personal brand.
You can also join local, state, regional, or national professional organizations by going to their websites. Many professional organizations have student memberships and open conferences to non-members.
Resources Across Business Industries
Association for Financial Professionals, Inc. (AFP): The Association for Financial Professionals is committed to the success of members of the financial industry through the establishment of credentials, which set standards of excellence in finance.
Duke Financial Economics Center: The DFE hosts a variety of academic and extracurricular programs to increase opportunities for Duke students, alumni, and faculty to engage with each other in the area of financial education.
American Bankers Association: Founded in 1875, the American Bankers Association represents banks of all sizes, supporting the nation’s banking industry and employees.
Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance: The Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA), formed in 1938, provides opportunities for women in all fields of accounting and finance.
American Marketing Association (AMA): The American Marketing Association (AMA) is the largest marketing association in North America and is a resource that thousands of marketers utilize daily.
Marketing Association (eMA): The eMarketing Association (eMA) is the world’s largest international association of eMarketing professionals, providing resources and services to the online marketing community.
Society of Human Resource Management: For nearly seven decades, the Society has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the practice of human resource management.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP): Founded in 1942, the International Association of Administrative Professionals provides administrative professionals opportunities for growth, networking, education and development.
National Human Resources Association (NHRA): The National Human Resources Association (NHRA) was established in 1961 to support the professional development of human resource professionals.
Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA): Professionals in Human Resources Association, founded in 1944, provides human resources professionals the opportunity to collaborate in an effort to enhance the profession.
- Institute of Management Consultants: Promote excellence and ethics in management consulting through certification, education and professional resources.
- Association of Management Consulting Firms: The mission of AMCF is to promote an environment, which fosters the success of management consulting firms worldwide, and the value they deliver to their clients.
- Case Interview Channel—Victor Cheng: Cheng is a “mentor for aspiring consultants.” His videos offer preparation for the case interview portion of consulting interviews.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, step back to your reflection and focus on what gives you energy. As you read about these various business careers, think about the skills you might be using in your day-to-day work and hone in on certain areas.
Gaining experience is one of the best ways to try out some of your interests and learn whether a particular career is a good fit or not. Experience comes in many forms including class projects, student organizations, volunteering, participating in academic programs, competitions or events such as case, marketing, sales, and company-sponsored competitions, internships, conducting research, independent projects, and even your summer job before college.There are many opportunities for students to gain experience, both at Duke and beyond.
“Paid experience” is the only type of experience that counts when testing out interests.
ALL experience counts as possible ways to explore your interests, develop skills, and network with people in the industry. Think about both specific skills developed in a particular environment and transferable skills that you can invest in a variety of places and situations. Employers will also look for a variety in the types of experiences you've undertaken. They appreciate seeing students use certain skill sets in a variety of settings, not just through jobs and internships.
Student Organizations and Campus Involvement
- Student Organizations can provide connections with others interested in similar career pursuits. You can develop essential skills by joining an organization where you will learn and grow as you engage in the career development process. Here are some of the clubs or groups on Duke’s campus related to business.
- Entrepreneurship: Student organization listings on the Innovation & Entrepreneurship website
- Consulting: Duke Consulting Club provides resources to undergraduates interested in consulting.
- Investment: The Duke Investment Club is the premier student finance organization at Duke University.
- Marketing: The mission of the Duke Marketing Club is to educate, expose, and offer experience to Duke students in the fields of advertising, marketing, and general business.
- Duke Business Society (mentoring, networking, entrepreneurship): Duke’s premier organization for business & innovation, DBS brings together the most talented students pursuing careers from Wall Street to
- Silicon Valley.
- The Duke Groups website is another good place to search for additional student organizations across campus.
- Most academic departments have related student organizations, so be sure to ask your faculty members and classmates for their suggestions as well!
- Economics Student Union: The mission of the Duke Economics Student Union is to provide undergraduate economics majors with meaningful resources, ranging from faculty lunches to finance competitions.
- Business Oriented Women (BOW): Duke Business Oriented Women seeks to prepare young women for careers in all areas of business, through education and exchange with industry professionals.
- Scale & Coin: Duke Scale & Coin is a business society that teaches and guides their members through the business world.
- Delta Sigma Pi: Delta Sigma Pi is a business fraternity that helps its members cultivate a network while forming tight knit friendships with other members.
Projects and Competitions
One of the best ways to simulate daily work and gain hands-on experience is to participate in competitions and class projects. Competitions and class projects are a great way to develop and practice your knowledge and skills in a specific area and show initiative and a genuine interest in your field. There are also opportunities to participate in competitions that focus on specific industries. Through project work and competitions you will learn more about yourself.
Company-sponsored events occur throughout the year on campus and in the local community, and many employers will also hold campus-wide or national case competitions as well. These are a great opportunity to gain firsthand experience and to connect with sponsoring employers.
- Duke Start-Up Challenge
- Finance-related competitions
- Consulting competitions—Sign up for the Consulting Club’s listserv at email@example.com
- Student-Run Businesses
- DataFest is another Duke competition where teams spend a weekend analyzing a large, complex, and surprise dataset
- Take free online courses and utilize resources such as LinkedIn Learning online training tutorials in Excel and related software.
Conducting research can be a great way to get involved on campus, explore a specific academic topic, and work closely with faculty members and graduate students. The Undergraduate Research Support Office offers resources for getting involved in research both on campus and at other institutions- check out the “opportunities” page to explore options.
Bass Connections offers interdisciplinary research opportunities for Duke students.
Internships are a great way to try out an industry or company while learning more about a career of interest, developing your skillset, and building a network. Most Duke students who complete internships do so during the summer. Consulting, finance and technology companies are primarily conducting their internship searches during the fall. However, this timeline can vary greatly based on the industry focus of each firm. Most other companies, and business-related internships, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations search for summer interns during the winter and spring semester.
- CareerConnections – The Duke Career Center’s source for internship and full-time job postings
- Duke Stanback Internship program – A Duke-specific program for funded internships with organizations in energy, conservation, advocacy, policy, research, and applied resource management.
- LinkedIn Internship Search—Identify both internships and the Duke alumni who work at companies and organizations you’re interested in.
Only real “company” experience counts.
Not true! Projects, teamwork, mentoring are all places where you are gaining valuable business skills. Part of the challenge is learning how to communicate these skills in an effective way through your resume, cover letter, and interviews.
Only juniors get internships.
Students of any class year can (and do!) obtain internships. Many companies specifically seek rising seniors for internship positions, as this is the summer when students have the most experience in their area of study prior to graduation. However, many first-year and sophomore students are able to secure internships through proactive networking and reaching out to companies of interest, especially smaller companies and start-ups.
Your search strategy includes integration and culmination of reflection, preparation, and action. Effective search strategy is built upon elements of self-inquiry, career research, networking, and both written and spoken communication. Review the Strategic Search Skills Guide for more information.
- Career Center Networking Guide – Learn the basics of networking and tips for success.
- Duke OneLink – Search this database of Duke alumni who have volunteered to be a source of advice and feedback to students and alumni.
- LinkedIn – Search for Duke alums by industry, geography, company, and more. Click here for a video tutorial on creating a strong profile.
Career Fairs – Are held on campus with various employers throughout the academic year. Check lists of employers attending to identify those who align with your interests. Review this list to discover all the career fairs promoted by the Career Center, both in-person and virtual.
Information sessions or ”Coffee chats”-- These on campus or virtual sessions are a valuable way to learn more about industries/firms. Check Career Connection “Events” for more information on dates, times and location.
Job & Internship Resources
- CareerConnections: The Duke Career Center’s source for internship and full-time job postings.
- LinkedIn: Manage your professional identity, build and engage with your professional network, access knowledge, insights, and opportunities, including internships and jobs.
- Bank Jobs: A list of internships and jobs in banking, finance, economics, and accounting.
- DukeList: Search for jobs and internships on campus and off campus.
- Hoovers: Navigate to Duke Libraries’ website to access ProQuest and conduct business market research.
Interviewing is a skill that is learned best through practice, and it’s never too early to get started. In addition the following online resources, consider contacting the Career Center to schedule a mock interview with a counselor to get feedback on how to build your interviewing skills.
- Career Center Interviewing Guide – Learn about the STAR method for behavioral interviews, and see examples of common interview questions
- Glassdoor.com – Have an interview coming up? Use this site to look up the company or positions with similar titles to learn about others’ experiences and questions you may encounter
- Duke Financial Economics Center—Select Internships & Jobs, then scroll to Interview Preparation for questions related to the field
Consulting Case Interviewing
- Case in Point—Written by Marc Costentino, this book is cited by many as the gold standard in preparation
- Victor Chang’s Case Interview Workshops—Review these 12 videos to prepare you for each step of the process
- Consulting Case Interview Questions & Answers—This robust site prepares you for different types of case questions, and gives insight into various firms and industries
- Practice with upperclass students/friends
The more positions I apply to, the more I increase my chances of getting a job.
Better to take the time to reflect, narrow down, and research through networking. Find alignment that match your skills with the organizations, and then write to them in their language. Not just that you want a job, but you want a job THERE.
Examples of employers who have recruited Duke students (and not all come to campus):
- Glaxo Smith Kline
- Lily Pulitzer
- Proctor & Gamble
- Ogilvy Mathers
- Bank of America
- BNP Paribas
- Capital One
- Deutsche Bank
- Goldman Sachs
- J.P. Morgan
- Morgan Stanley
- Wells Fargo
- A.T. Kearney
- Bain & Company
- Bates White
- Booz & Company
- Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
- Center for Environmental Farming Systems
- Corporate Executive Board (CEB)
- Dean & Company
- Deloitte Consulting
- Ernst & Young
- IBM Global Business Services
- Kaiser Associates
- L.E.K. Consulting Maximus
- McKinsey & Company
- Navigant Consulting
- Oliver Wyman
- Public Consulting Group
- The Advisory Board
- Axiom Global Inc.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau