Internship and Job Search Guide

Discovering your career path is about more than simply finding a job or internship.
It’s about finding your own unique path, and we’re here to partner with you on your exploration and search. Whatever your next step, be it graduate school, your dream job, or just the first of many next steps, we are here to work with you to develop a career plan that’s right for you. We provide a wide range of resources, services, and events, designed to aid in career decision-making and preparation for a purposeful career.

A very small sample of the resources we provide are job and internship listings and databases. You can use these tools to explore, network and apply for opportunities. If you’re just starting your search and want to find an internship that interests you and that you would be excited to apply to, please start with the Career Development Process and perhaps, Know Yourself!

And, What Do Employers Want From You?

We asked employers who participated in recent career fairs what top skills (technical skills or soft skills) they are seeking from candidates.

The most mentioned skill was related to the ability to effectively communicate.
Top 5 are Communication, Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, Teamwork & Creativity.

  • Step One: Take a Quick Inventory

    A. Know What Your Career Center Offers and has Available to You Right Now.

    B. Know Yourself –this is the first step in any 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?

    C. Know What Professional Development Opportunities are Available to you

    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

    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?
    • Explore and join our career communities 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 LinkedInthe Alumni Directory or 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

  • 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.

    Use Duke-specific sites like Handshake

    • International students may want to also utilize sites like Interstridemyvisajobs and Redbus2us.
    • Check out your specific career community to explore industry specific internship/job search boards.
    • Participate in in-person & virtual career fairs and information sessions to introduce yourself and follow-up with recruiters.
    • Take some time to edit your resume, CV and cover letter for each and every position you apply to.
    • Other job boards indicate whether or not companies are hiring and offer other opportunities:

    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.

  • Step Six: Prepare for Interviews

    Write out the main skills and competencies required of the position in order to generate relevant examples from your own experiences. Prepare for online or over the phone interviews.

  • 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. 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 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.
    • Once you accept an offer you must stop searching and interviewing for other jobs.  Reneging on an internship/job offer is bad for your professional reputation and Duke’s.