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Career Center Expands Services to Graduate Students

December 8, 2010

This year brings opportunities for graduate students to explore new avenues in career and professional development. With the support of the Provost’s office, the Graduate School and the Office of Student Affairs, two new counselors have been added to the Career Center staff. This new counseling and programming team will function in partnership with the Graduate School, directors of graduate study, faculty advisors, the offices of Student Affairs, graduate student groups, alumni, and employers to assist graduate students in expanding their professional skills and exploring career options. Patricia Callaway and Annie Maxfield join Director of Graduate Student Career Services Virginia Steinmetz to support the professional development and transition to the workplace of Graduate School master’s and doctoral students. This new team of counselors, dedicated to Graduate students, has the dual mission of providing direct services (career counseling, programs, and education-related activities) and building relationships with external and internal stakeholders to expand academic and alternative professional opportunities. This team, under the leadership of William Wright-Swadel, Fannie Mitchell Executive Director of the Career Center, is a counterpart to Career Center staff who already provide career services to students in the Master of Engineering Management and Master of Engineering programs at the Pratt School of Engineering.

Virginia Steinmetz, who earned a Ph.D. in English at Duke University, has been the Career Center’s Assistant Director and Director of Graduate Student Career Services since 1991. She is a certified career facilitator and a member of the Graduate Career Consortium, a professional association of counselors who serve graduate students at the member schools of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Virginia is also the founder and employer recruitment coordinator for the annual N.C. Master’s & Ph.D. Career Fair, which is a collaboration with six university and two postdoctoral career service offices in the N.C. piedmont region. Dr. Steinmetz has a long-standing commitment to improved career services for graduate students and a deep appreciation of their needs gleaned through many years of service. Her enthusiasm for working with graduate students has not dimmed over the years:

I enjoy counseling graduate students, not merely to offer the standard sage advice, but to encourage them from the start of their graduate careers at Duke to understand and negotiate the labor system of all sectors where their specialized knowledge, creativity and organizational skills are valued. I strongly urge students planning internships, interim or full-time employment to make a realistic assessment of market conditions through careful research and the cultivation of reciprocal professional relationships.”

Patricia Callaway joins the team with a diverse career background, which includes teaching at the elementary and middle school levels, business ownership, management, and counseling experience in the public and private sectors. She holds a doctorate in Instruction and Administration from the University of Kentucky. Prior to assuming her new counseling responsibilities, she served as a Literacy Coach supporting teachers of the Wake County Public School System. Dr. Callaway relishes her new role and the possibilities for interaction it affords: “My new role provides me with a means to support individuals preparing to find employment and transition into their dream career. It also creates an opportunity for me to assist students in exploring careers beyond what they may have initially thought was an option for them. I am especially eager to work closely with students in preparing or further enhancing their CVs, resume writing, and interviewing skills. Being a life-long learner, I will interact daily with some of the brightest minds in the world and be informed of their cutting edge research, which will stimulate me personally and, most importantly, professionally.” Patricia’s impressive skill set and varied educational expertise enables her to be a resource on many levels to the graduate student population.

Annie Maxfield comes to the Duke University Career Center after graduate work at the University of Utah and professional experience in university teaching, communications consulting, and nonprofit program management. Annie holds a master’s in communication from the University of Utah. “My motivation for working with graduate students is really drawn from my passion for the role academics play in communities in and outside of academia. Ph.D. and master’s students have a lot to offer the world as critical and innovative thinkers. Often the entirety of their skills are overshadowed by their specialization, and I think one of our key roles is to help them and us understand and value their intellectual diversity in ways that they can contribute across academic, non-profit, government and corporate platforms.” Annie’s teaching and work experiences—from working with homeless youth and university students to advising low-income single mothers and local nonprofits—give her a unique set of skills and professional networks that help her in advising and connecting with graduate students and employers. The final report of the task force indicated a critical need for additional Career Center staff resources to provide job search and career support to graduate students, and emphasized the importance of increased communication among departments, the Graduate School, and Career Center staff. At a recent meeting of key collaborators, it was clear that a chief aim of the career counseling team will be to provide open, focused, and clear communication to the graduate community about available career development programs, and to establish more comprehensive and individualized services to Duke’s graduate community. Dean Looney expressed that “It is truly heartening to see both the task force’s recommendations come to fruition and this formal recognition that, as the 2007 task force report said, ‘To invest in enhancing career and professional development services for graduate students is to invest in Duke’s future.’”