What’s next?

 January 13, 2014

You may have begun graduate school for a variety of reasons—a love of research, a passion to make an impact through your work on a particular topic, the chance to study with an inspiring scholar among our faculty, a career aspiration that requires a master’s or doctoral degree, or simply a recognition that a graduate degree opens many more professional doors than a bachelor’s degree does. And if you’re a Duke graduate student, you probably had the chance to choose Duke over several other competitive options. You’re a goal-driven, ambitious, forward-looking person.

After Duke, what’s next?

No matter what your career plans include, Duke can give you a competitive advantage. Whether you’ll be seeking a position in academia, business, government, or nonprofit, or creating your own job as an entrepreneur, Duke provides a uniquely rich array of resources, programs, and people who can help you achieve your goals. Duke’s significant investment in career and professional development for graduate students makes us a leader among our peer institutions. What does this mean for you? While you’ll be competing on the job market with others who’ve earned similar degrees, it’s the experiences and resources we offer beyond your degree program that will help you stand apart from other candidates—if you take advantage of them. Here’s a sampling of what we offer:

If you’re interested in faculty careers, the Graduate School offers a Certificate in College Teaching, the Bass Instructional Fellowships, and the Preparing Future Faculty program, as well as courses on college teaching and a teaching workshop series. In addition, the Graduate School co-sponsors a bi-annual Academic Job Search Series with the Duke Career Center and Office of Postdoctoral Services, addressing the faculty job search as well as options beyond the tenure-track.

For those interested in exploring careers beyond academia including business, government and non-profit opportunities, we sponsor a rotating schedule of talks and workshops as part of the Professional Development Series, including a series on Ph.D. Career Paths. And you can seek support from the Duke Career Center in tailoring your application materials and making the contacts you need through workshops on creating résumés and cover letters, networking, interviewing, and searching for jobs outside the academy, as well as career fairs.

If you’re still considering your options, the Core Competencies topics in the Professional Development Series help you identify and develop skills useful in many employment sectors. Complementing those workshops, the graduate student-focused staff of the Duke Career Center can meet with you in one-on-one conversations to help you match your career interests with your skills and values. They offer tools and resources that can help you assess the best choices.

All graduate students, regardless of career goals, can participate in the new Emerging Leaders Institute, an annual leadership development program offered in the spring. This personal and professional development opportunity is designed to increase participants’ communication, self-awareness, professional adaptability, interdisciplinary teamwork, and leadership skills. (Although the 2014 application deadline has passed, you can watch for details on the spring 2015 program on the ELI website.)

These are just some of the career and professional development opportunities you can take advantage of during your time at Duke. To see a chronological listing of all workshops, talks, and events for graduate students sponsored by the Graduate School and Duke Career Center, visit the Events Calendar tab at the top of this page.

The drive, ambition, and passion that brought you to Duke can help you reach graduation day. Professional development at Duke can help you achieve what’s next.

Have a question or idea about professional development here at Duke? Contact Melissa Bostrom, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development, at