Career Corner: September-October 2004


Questions and Answers
Career Corner

I just graduated from Duke and I don't have a job. Help!

You're not alone. There's an unspoken assumption that, by May of senior year, every student will know exactly what he or she wants to do, and will have been accepted to a "top" job, graduate school, law school, or medical school. Unfortunately, it's not true. In fact, nearly 30 percent of your classmates are probably in the same boat. Before you take too much comfort from that statistic and settle down to enjoying a hedonistic summer (while your parents tot up the cost of your Duke education), it's worth thinking about what it will take to get a job and what help is out there for you.

So, where do you start? Luckily, help is at hand through your alma mater. The Class of 2004 will be the first class to take advantage of a new Duke Alumni Association initiative to provide career assistance to alumni. On May 1, Racquel White was hired to head up this program and to provide individual counseling and career advice to alumni. Duke is one of a relatively few universities that have a person whose job is to help alumni at all stages of their careers. During the summer of 2004, appointments--by phone, e-mail, or in person--will be limited to recent graduates. You can make an appointment by calling the Career Center at (919) 660-1050.

There are hundreds of books available on the job search. All contain useful advice. But five tips, for me, stand out from the rest:

1) Use good grammar and spelling--even in your e-mail messages.

2) Know how you can add value to an organization.

3) Connect with adults--any adult--who can help identify opportunities or advocate for you. Parents, relatives, faculty members, Duke alumni, and your career counselor are all excellent resources.

4) Follow up. Enthusiasm for a particular job can set you apart.

5) Sign up for the Career Center's recent-graduate job-announcement list. Send e-mail to

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