To bring your knowledge to a place in which you can make informed decisions, the following ground must be covered:
Know Yourself Investigate Options
Understand Experience Search Strategically
Career decision-making is a cyclical process that is constantly changing based on information and experiences that will shape your path. Before, during, and after your time at Duke, you will learn, gain new opportunities and experiences, and meet different people, all of which may affect the way that you think about your career options and goals. Throughout the entire process, it's important to invest time in reflecting and thinking about each new experience and how it impacts what you most want out of your career.
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. Each of these pieces provides clues about careers that may fit you best.
A good place to start:
- Review the Self-Inquiry Guide to begin learning more about how your skills, knowledge, and interests
- You can schedule an appointment with a career advisor to have a conversation about your career questions and ideas.
Students in engineering and technology fields have a wide array of career options, depending on your interest. Every company has a need for employees who specialize in technology, whether it's creating or maintaining a website, software, or a mobile app, or implementing new technology and teaching others how to use it effectively. Similarly, every company and organization that designs, builds, or manufactures infrastructure or consumer products has engineers working on every step of the process. From a tiny part in a wind turbine, to a medical prosthesis, to wearable technology, to roads and bridges, students in STEM industries are behind the ideation and creation of just about every material and product imaginable.
Resources for learning more about careers:
- O*NET and Occupational Outlook Handbook - Search for and learn career information including professional environments, salaries, used skills, and educational requirements.
- What can I do with this major? - Connects academic majors to possible career paths, typical employers, and strategies designed to maximize career opportunities.
- ComputerScience.org - Learn more about career options and opportunities in computer science.
- Cyberdegrees.org - For students interested in cyber security, degrees and careers
Below are just a few examples of careers in engineering and technology in O*NET (there are many more out there!):
- Aerospace Engineer
- Biomedical Engineer
- Civil Engineer
- Computer Programmer
- Electrical Engineer
- Environmental Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- Web Developers
Examples of Professional Organizations & Resources:
Professional associations provide a wealth of online resources, some of which is geared specifically to students. These organizations typically also host conferences and events, providing great opportunities for learning and networking across your field of interest.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - A global organization dedicated to technological innovation
- North Carolina Biotechnology Center - Located right in RTP, this is a private nonprofit organization that offers a directory of biotechnology companies throughout the state, as well as networking and educational opportunities
- National Society of Professional Engineers - This organization has collection of materials for current and prospective engineers, with a large section devoted to students
- Professional Engineers of North Carolina - An organization with local members that is committed to educating about and protecting engineering licensure
Duke Interdisciplinary Initiatives:
Duke is a large institution with departments, faculty, and staff in just about every industry possible. Here are a few interdisciplinary centers on campus, be sure to check out their upcoming events!
- Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship - Entrepreneurship education and opportunities
- Energy Initiative - Advancing an accessible, affordable, reliable and clean energy system
- Information Initiative at Duke - Increasing "big data" computational research and opportunities
- Hacker News -Social news website focused on computer science and entrepreneurship
- Science Daily - News in STEM research
- TechCrunch - Technology industry news
- TechMeme - Tech news aggregator
Learn from other Dukies
Podcast: This Engineering Life Example: S2E04 – Interviews! We get to hear the stories of a few Duke Undergraduate (and Alumni) Interview experiences! We even get some advice from Duke’s Career Center.
Reach out to Duke alumni through the Alumni Directory to have a discussion about career paths, companies, and jobs.
Gaining experience is one of the best ways to try out some of your interests! Experience comes in many forms including class projects, student organizations, volunteering, participating in academic programs, competitions or events such as hackathons, internships, conducting research, independent projects, and more. There are many opportunities for students to gain experience, both at Duke and beyond. Consider ways that you can get involved on campus or try out new ideas in your academics and outside of your classes.
- The professional society chapters include special-interest organizations such as American Society of Civil Engineers, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the Society of Women Engineers
- Student organizations include a broader range of interdisciplinary groups including Duke Engineers for International Development, Duke Makers, Duke Electric Vehicles, Engineering World Health, hackDuke
- DukeGroups is another good place to search for additional student organizations across campus such as:
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Energy Club
- Duke University Mathematics Union
- Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science
Most academic departments have related student organizations, so be sure to ask your faculty members and classmates for their suggestions as well!
Projects and Events
One of the most valuable ways to gain hands-on experience is to build something yourself. Class projects are a great way to develop and practice your knowledge and skills in a specific area, but that's just the beginning!
Many students pursue independent projects to build skills and learn more about areas of interest- this is a great way to show initiative and a genuine interest in your field. Building a bicycle or computer, creating a mobile app or website, or even taking online classes are all examples of valuable experience that you can get on your own. Project work often requires a wealth of transferable skills including motivation, commitment, initiative, teamwork, communication, troubleshooting, problem solving, and more!
Ideas for ways to gain experience outside of your classes:
Competitions- Hackathons 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
- HackDuke is one of the largest hackathons that takes place on campus
- DataFest is another Duke competition where teams spend a weekend analyzing a large, complex, and surprise dataset
- Contribute to open source projects (GitHub Trending Repositories and Google Open Source Projects are two great places to start looking)
- Take free online courses and utilize resources such as Lynda Online Training Tutorials and CodeAcademy to build your knowledge and skills
- Write a blog or build an online portfolio showing examples of your work and experience
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.
Additionally, here are a few specific research programs available at Duke:
- Bass Connections - University-wide interdisciplinary research program
- Howard Hughes Research Fellows - Summer research program for rising Duke sophomores interested in biological and biomedical sciences
- Pratt Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Program - Intensive research program for engineering students that begins in your junior spring semester and extends through summer and your senior year (apply during fall of your junior year)
- Smart Home - A space on campus for living and conducting research, especially in sustainability and smart ways to use technology in the home
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. While the majority of companies search for interns during the Spring semester, engineering and technology companies are conducting their internship searches during the Fall.
Good places to start looking for internships:
- 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
Myth: Classwork doesn't count as experience.
Reality: Not true! For many students, class projects are one of the most valuable sources for hands-on experience! Engineering and computer science students tend to create really neat projects as part of their coursework, and this work should be featured on your resume and referenced in interviews. Think creatively about your lab work and course projects as relevant experience.
Myth: Only juniors get internships
Reality: 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.
Tip: For even more ideas, check out the Career Center's page on Experiential Opportunities for Undergraduate Students!
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
- DukeConnect - 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 - List of Career Center's fall and spring career fairs (and other events).
- NC State Engineering Career Fair - one of the largest engineering fairs in the country, held once in the fall semester, and once in the spring and open to the public
- TechConnect - Duke's networking fair for engineering and computer science students held once a semester
Job & Internship Resources
- CareerConnections - The Duke Career Center's source for internship and full-time job postings
- Math-Jobs.org - Math and statistics job postings
- Gogovernment.org - A great place to start looking for federal jobs- there are many available in the STEM fields!
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
Technical interviews - One component unique to positions in engineering and technology is that many companies use technical interviews to assess your knowledge and skills on technical topics. Technical interviews can vary tremendously from one to the next and, depending on the role, could involve you writing code on a whiteboard or plain sheet of paper, or simply answering questions about software, computer programs, engineering concepts common in the industry, or math questions and brainteasers. As with all interviews, do your research ahead of time to learn about whether the company you'll be interviewing with uses these interviewing techniques. Be careful not to forget about traditional and behavioral interview questions as well!
- Career Cup - See questions that were asked recently in coding interviews
- Geekinterview.com - Common topical questions for engineering and programming
- HackerRank - Sharpen your programming skills, participate in online hackathons
- Leetcode.com - Prepare by practicing and submitting your code for review
- Programmerinterview.com - See example interview questions organized by topic
Cracking the Coding Interview and Cracking the PM Interview, both by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
Elements of Programming Interviews: The Insiders' Guide, by Adnan Aziz, Tsung-Hsien Lee, and Amit Prakash
Examples of employers that have hired engineering and technology Duke students in the past (this is NOT an exhaustive list, just a sampling):
- Cigna Actuarial
- Edwards Lifesciences
- Federal Drug Administration
- General Electric
- Northrop Grumman
- St. Jude Medical
Tip: Head to LinkedIn and check out the Connections tab, and select Find Alumni. You'll get a visual representation of all Duke alumni on LinkedIn sorted by what they studied, where they work, and what they do now!
Some pages on the Duke Career Center website may contain links to pages belonging to other organizations. The Career Center is not responsible for the upkeep and content of these pages and cannot guarantee the relevance, timeliness, or correctness of these outside materials. Nevertheless, the Career Center welcomes feedback and suggestions on how to improve its website and correct errors. Please find contact information for the Career Center on our Contact Us page.