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Career Center News

Graduate student job recruitment has never been more robust at Duke. This past fall, 62 employers attended the annual North Carolina Master’s & Ph.D. Career Fair, an event jointly sponsored by Duke University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, and Wake Forest University. This event is more than a decade old, and over the past few years it has grown significantly in both employer registration and student attendance, more than doubling in size from 2010 to 2012. The Graduate Support team at the Career Center has also worked diligently to build employer awareness of and interest in graduate students. This past fall, Duke hosted 15 graduate student focused employer information sessions and three employers whose aim at Duke was solely and explicitly to hire graduate students.

In addition to the growth in the volume of interest, we are also bringing in increasingly diverse employers, to better meet the wide range of career interests of the graduate student population. Historically, the Master’s & Ph.D. Career Fair has hosted a majority of employers who were seeking candidates in engineering and the medical sciences. This year, however, more than one third of the employers were explicitly seeking candidates in the social science and humanities, for roles ranging from higher education administration to policy think tanks.

Although the number of research and development opportunities for the sciences remains steady, employers also recognize the need for broad critical thinking and communication skills, thus the demand for humanities and social sciences is finding traction in the job market. With the volume of graduate level talent across disciplines having grown significantly, faculty positions in higher education have become increasingly competitive. As a result, industry leaders are looking at holders of advanced degrees as an available and underutilized talent pool and discerning new ways to harness that talent within their organizations.

Some of the biggest trends in hiring this year included highly quantitative skills for data scientists coming from physics, mathematics, engineering, and social sciences. These positions also range from fellowships with the Harvard Strategic Data Project to CoreCompete, a large new data company in the triangle. Opportunities at RAND, American Institutes for Research,and RTI were more focused on social science Ph.D.s. New companies looking for life scientists included Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, and Quintiles.

Along with the growth in employer need, there was also an uptick in student attendance. In 2011, 573 student and postdocs attended the career fair; in 2012, there were 699 attendees. Duke had the highest attendance, with 199 participants.

The need for talent coupled with the greater numbers of students that are expanding their career pursuits has led to the creation of a national virtual career fair taking place February 9, 2013. The fair is the product of the Graduate Career Consortium, a group of career professionals from highly selective schools who work specifically with Ph.D. and Master’s students. More than 25 schools are participating in the national fair, and Duke hopes to use this fair as a supplement to the annual North Carolina Master’s & Ph.D. career fair.

— Anna Maxfield, Assistant Director, Career Center