Internship & Job Search Strategies Amid COVID-19*

In the current climate of uncertainty, finding a job, internship, or other opportunity could be challenging. Using available resources can help seekers develop efficient plans, utilize their unique resources and move the process forward.

We know there is a lot here. We didn't want you to miss any of the steps because you all are in many different stages of this process. Just review the steps and use the resources in the stage where you are. We are sure it will be helpful. If you don't find what you are looking for–and even if you do–schedule an appointment with an adviser to map out your strategy.

 

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Duke Career Center FAQs During COVID-19

We recognize that there are many unique challenges during this unprecedented time, and we are here to support you. To ensure the highest level of service is still available to our students, alumni, and employers, the Career Center team has answered some of the most frequently asked questions about our ongoing remote operations.

How can I access the Career Center’s services?

CareerConnections is your way to connect to all that we do. The Career Center team is here to help you!  We have a number of online resources available 24/7, as well as online(Zoom) individual advising, Drop-in Career Advising, and programming. You can schedule advising appointments, view the Drop-in Advising schedule, search job and internship postings, and find all upcoming virtual programs and events in CareerConnections. Please connect with us so we can support you during this time!

How can I get my resume or cover letter reviewed?

Advisers are available to help you with these documents.  Students can make an individual appointment through CareerConnections or choose to attend Drop-in Career Advising.

Can I schedule a practice interview with a career adviser?

Absolutely! We are here to help you prepare for upcoming interviews. Practice interviews are a great way to sharpen your online interview skills.  Schedule a practice interview through CareerConnections.

What if I just want to talk through some thinking that I have been doing about careers?

This is a great reason to schedule an individual appointment. You will find our advisers are happy to be sounding boards and thought partners.

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Employer Information

Are employers still hiring?

Yes, there are employers that continue to have hiring needs while others may have to pause recruiting.  Continue to check CareerConnections for job and internship postings and pay attention to the Employer Events calendar.  Employers may take a bit longer to respond given the current circumstances.  Also, anticipate an interview process to be conducted remotely given the number and types of restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19. Our team can work with you on preparing for a remote recruiting process–schedule an individual appointment.

How can I continue to engage with employers remotely through the Career Center?

Employers want to stay connected and have been contacting us on various ways to engage with students during this time.  This is a great time to tune in to employer webinars and events on a range of topics, including recruiting and career exploration. Check CareerConnections to see the calendar of upcoming employer virtual events. 

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Job and Internship Plans

If I have a job or internship offer, should I contact my employer to re-confirm my status?

Opening this line of communication to learn the status of an offer is a good idea.  Approach the employer by asking how they are doing, if they have any updates to share on the status of your offer, and when it might be appropriate to check back in with them to stay updated. Remain professional and considerate in your communication.  View a sample note at the end of this document.

What if my job or internship gets canceled or my offer is rescinded?

Please connect with us! You can schedule a Zoom, Skype or phone appointment with a Career Center adviser to talk through your unique situation and strategize around your next steps.  We are here to support you with a number of tools and resources. 

Am I going to be at a disadvantage for future career opportunities if my summer internship is canceled?

Everyone is going through this unprecedented time together, and everyone will have a story around its impact. Consider how your approach to this time can prepare you for your next opportunity. Be thoughtful and intentional–Did you connect or volunteer with your local community? Did you learn a new skill or take an online class? Did you expand your network by connecting with alumni? Did you care for loved ones? The Career Center advisers are here to share a number of resources you can access to help you think about these and other options– as well as help you craft your story for future employer interaction.

I am currently in the middle of a recruiting process with an employer.  Should I contact the employer to find out the status of my candidacy?

Contacting an employer with whom you’ve already begun an interview process would be appropriate.  Approach it as a checking in email and be prepared for the possibility of a delayed reply under the current circumstances. See the sample note at the end of this document to guide you in crafting this communication.

I’d like to contact my employer and share that I would be able to perform my internship remotely- how would I approach this communication?

Being proactive in notifying your employer of your ability to do your internship remotely demonstrates initiative and a problem-solving mindset! Describe ways in which you can already work remotely based on your familiarity with remote tools, such as project management (MS Teams), messaging (Slack), video conferencing (Zoom), and file sharing (Box, Google drive). Duke’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) supports students to acquire and use software—including specific programs that may be required for an internship. OIT also offers applications that can be accessed through the web, including Zoom and Qualtrics.

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Online Tools

What kind of online tools do I have access to through the Career Center?

The Career Center has several tools and resources on the website for you to take advantage of:

How can I connect with alumni during this time?  

Get to know your Blue Devil Network! The Duke Alumni Association’s database allows students to connect with alumni for professional development.  Conducting a series of informational interviews is a great way to learn more about career paths and options!

The LinkedIn Duke Alumni Network is another point of connection for Duke alumni, students, faculty, and staff to build professional relationships, share career resources, and discuss issues of interest to the Duke community.

 

Templates for Communicating with Employers

Job or Internship Status Inquiry

Dear (address to your company contact):

I hope you are well. I am writing in regards to the status of my [position title] with [company name] given the impact of COVID-19.  Are there any updates or changes that I should be aware of at this point in time?

I look forward to starting my position with [company name].

Thank you and take care,

Your Name

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Recruiting Update

Dear (address to your company contact):

I hope you are well.  I am writing in regards to the status of the interview process in which I am currently a candidate for the role of [position title].  Are there any updates that I should be aware of during this time? I look forward to continuing this process with [company name], and I continue to be very interested in the opportunity.

 

Thank you for your time and take care,

 

Your Name


This step by step guide is a collection of tips, information, and resources that can be particularly useful in a general job search in the wake of COVID-19 and beyond. Keep in mind that the ability to work in certain capacities may change depending on local and federal restrictions in response to COVID-19.

Step One: Take a Quick Inventory

person's reflection in silver ball

Knowing yourself is always the first step in a job search.  Take a moment to reflect on your previous experiences and activities (academic, work-related, volunteer, hobbies) and think about which elements would be most meaningful to you in a career.

This process will help determine what opportunities would be a good match for your current plans and needs, as well as how you might pivot industries, plans or timelines to address current changes.

Sample steps may include:

  • Determine your timeline for finding an opportunity based on financial needs, etc. Make a list of your interests, strengths and values.
  • Think about transferable skills.  What other opportunities match the skills you’ve built for Plan A?
  • Ask yourself:
    • What types of people, services or products do you want to work with every day?
    • What are your salary requirements, geographic location preferences, desired hours, etc.
    • What are your short-term and long-term career goals?

Professional Development Opportunities

These opportunities can be a good way to continue developing skills that could potentially help you in your career search:

Step Two: Create a List of Target Companies and Organizations

GOAL with bullseye in O

Now that you’ve thought about what you’re seeking, you’ll need to do some research online and also speak with people to determine which opportunities would be a good fit for you.  

  • Write down a few industries, roles or keywords you might use to explore career options.
  • Write down any companies or organizations you follow or that align with your values or interests.
  • Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people whose current positions you might enjoy. Where did they start?  Where else have they worked?
  • Review our industry guides to learn more about opportunities and strategies within certain industries.
  • Create a list of types of opportunities and potential organizations.

Step Three: Network Effectively

Networking is about building relationships as well as seeking advice and information. Conducting informational interviews with people who work in the industries or roles you are seeking is one of the best ways to discover opportunities. Be efficient and have a plan–while people may be happy to help, their focus right now is probably on their own adjustments and employment, so you want their time with you to be well spent. A good place to start might be to reach out to Duke alumni through the Alumni Directory and Ask a Blue Devil!

  • Think creatively: How could your skills be beneficial to someone right now? For example: Could you help a faculty member set up online courses? Social media marketing? 
  • Send a thank you email or note to anyone who helps you, even in small ways.

Step Four: Prepare Your Job Search Materials

  • Use the Career Center’s guides and samples to create a resume, CV and cover letter draft for one of your target employers.
  • Have multiple people review your documents and give you feedback.
  • Participate in Drop-in Advising or book an individual appointment with a career adviser for additional review.

Step Five: Utilize Job Boards in Your Search 

Utilize technology to search for positions of interest to you. Some sites will even send recommended jobs directly to you. Think outside the box in applying your transferable skills if your original industry might be one of the more affected in the COVID-19 environment.

The Duke Career Center and many other job boards make every effort to check the legitimacy of organizations and the opportunities being posted.  Due to a high volume of postings, sometimes we are unable to fully research each posting. 

Characteristics of a Fraudulent Employer

Wiring Money and Private Information

A fraudulent employer may:

  • Ask for personal details, such as bank account information, social security numbers, credit card numbers, Paypal information, passport information—do not provide this information to the employer even if they say it’s a condition for employment and/or needed to conduct a background check
  • Offer to send a check in the mail to you as an incentive for employment- do not send a check to the employer or wire money as an investment in your employment with the company.  Paying employers is not a part of the job search process
  • Send you a large check in the mail unexpectedly—do not accept or cash these checks
  • Request access to your bank account so that money can be wired to you—do not share your bank account number with a prospective employer

Email and Communication

  • A fraudulent employer may contact you but isn’t willing to share his/her contact information or can be difficult to reach
  • The domain name for a fraudulent employer contact’s email is slightly misspelled or doesn’t match that of the company that is hiring. For example, if the employer is Nike, then the correct email address would read @nike.com. A fraudulent employer, however, may misspell the email address slightly and have it read @nikke.com
  • The domain name of a fraudulent employer contact may appear as a personal email such as @yahoo.com and @gmail.com. While some startups, for example, may have staff using personal emails, the use of personal emails should raise a red flag for the job seeker until additional information about the company and position is verified
  • The email address of a fraudulent employer may combine a personal domain name with a more official company name: ie- IBM-recruiter@yahoo.com.  However, most legitimate employer email addresses will have their company name as the domain name and should have the following format: ie- j.smith@ibm.com

Employer Information

A fraudulent employer website may not provide much detail about the company and/or it may not have the position posted on the website.  An exception to this may be a startup organization that is working on constructing their website, in which case a conversation with the contact from the organization would provide a way for a student to acquire additional information about the organization.

Characteristics of a Fraudulent Job Posting

  • Multiple grammatical and spelling errors throughout the posting
  • A variety of font types and font sizes used
  • The job is an opportunity that seems too good to be true with a large salary range
  • Information regarding the company and/or the opportunity is difficult to come by and few details are provided, such as the company name and the location of the position

Tips and Resources for Researching Employers

Think you’ve encountered a fraudulent employer? Want to check the legitimacy of an employer? The sites below can assist you with identifying employers that have been reported as fraudulent.

What Should You Do if You Spot a Fraudulent Employer or Job Posting in CareerConnections

To report the suspected fraudulent activity

  • Call the Duke Career Center at 919-660-1053 or send an email to career-employer@studentaffairs.duke.edu
  • Stop communication with the employer immediately
  • Do not accept or cash check or money orders

 

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Use Duke-specific sites like CareerConnections, the Duke Alumni Association job board, Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s opportunities page.

Saving your search in CareerConnections is a great way to get daily email updates on opportunities related to your interest areas. It saves you time and keeps you in the know on the newest job and internship postings to get your materials in early.

Here’s how:

  1. Once you’re logged into CareerConnections, go to the Job & Internship Search tab on the left-hand menu. 
  2. Click the Job & Internship Search link.
  3. Set your filters to match your interests and click the blue Apply Filters button.
  4. Click Save My Filter. A pop-up window will open for you to name your search (great for identifying different job roles you might be looking for).
  5. Check the EMAIL ME UPDATES box and then save it.
  6. Done and done!

Virtual Internships and Remote Work Opportunities

To prepare for a remote job, familiarize yourself with the various software/systems (Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams), online file sharing systems (Dropbox, Box, Google Drive), project management (Asana, etc.) and other communication tools (like Slack) used for remote work. Understand the employer’s policies about remote work; you may be asked to complete a work plan or submit a list of your work accomplishments at the end of each week.

Check in with your manager frequently, and get to know your team virtually. 

Some software systems may have app add-ons that encourage teams to take a break and come together for a quick chat with the goal of replicating in-person chats that might often happen throughout the work day. Find out if your team already uses a similar feature or, would be open to it. 

Set up a plan for how to get your work done and how best to communicate the results, next steps and maybe even the process involved. 

Consider your manager's communication style and what might help best. This might be a weekly email that quickly summarizes your work (in progress, complete, waiting on) or, it might be a verbal update as part of your regular check-ins. 

Be okay with ambiguity and be able to adapt.
The employer is also facing a few unknowns, especially those who've converted an in-person internship to a virtual internship. They're also learning and exploring new ways to ensure that you have a good experience. Due to the increase in virtual internships and remote work opportunities in summer 2020, employers may look to your insight and experience to aid in how they'll approach potential future virtual internship/job opportunities. 

Be open to new or additional responsibilities as part of your internship/work, and take advantage of learning a new skill. Your virtual internship may be the first virtual internship program for the employer. Think of how your feedback can be useful and how your value can make an impact for others in similar future virtual internships/jobs.

Participate in virtual meetings, following the Advice for Remote Interactions.  

Career Center video of Preparing for Online Recruiting Options and Remote Work.

Resources

The New Rules for Remote Work    March 2020   Harvard Business School

15 Questions about Remote Work, Answered  March 2020 Harvard Business Review

Work and COVID-19  March and April 2020  A collection of articles from The Muse 

How to Elevate Your Presence in a Virtual Meeting April 2020 Harvard Business Review

Start with these sites.

Short-Term Paid Work

If you’re searching for a long-term career while also needing to pay the bills, consider these ideas for finding short-term work right away:

  • Search CareerConnections, DukeList, Craigslist. Use search keywords like: remote, virtual, telework, etc.
  • Inquire with local or online tutoring companies, local restaurants and other places of business.   
  • Reach out to former supervisors, mentors and alumni to inquire about paid short-term work. 
  • Reach out to familiar or new faculty to inquire about paid short-term research assistant, teaching assistant, project management, social media or other positions.
  • Look into lab manager or tech positions at your former lab, a neighboring one or one of a friend.
  • Explore temporary agencies. These are businesses focused on placing job seekers into short-term and long-term contract positions within a variety of types of companies.

Step Six: Prepare for Interviews

Write out the main skills and competencies required of the position in order to generate relevant

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examples from your own experiences. Interviews will now be conducted online or over the phone, so prepare for these formats.

Step Seven: Offer Negotiation

Congratulations! When you get an offer call, thank the employer and communicate your genuine interest, but ask to see the details of the job offer in writing before committing to anything.

Negotiating elements of your job offer, when done tactfully and professionally, is often expected and can help you to get what you deserve.  While you don’t want to give up on major elements, keep in mind that the job market is going to get more competitive, so make sure that you have a solid foundation for your negotiation.  

  • Review our Negotiation Guide to become familiar with the elements of a job offer and how to be most effective when negotiating with employers.
  • Use Glassdoor, Salary.com and your networking conversations to learn the average expected salaries of similar positions in specific geographic locations. 
  • Consider what other elements of an offer are most important to you beyond salary, such as vacation time, time/location flexibility, typical work schedule, funds for professional development, etc.

Resources

*International students should refer to the Duke Visa Services website for current regulations regarding employment authorization for F-1 and J-1 students.
Additional questions regarding off- and on-campus employment authorization can be addressed by contacting your Duke Visa Services Advisor.