Extending the Network

April 1, 2007
Comparing notes: Junior Erica Perez sharesthoughts with fellow Career Week participant

Comparing notes: Junior Erica Perez sharesthoughts with fellow Career Week participant. Les Todd

Hundreds of alumni attended Career Week 2007 to offer—and, in some cases, to look for—jobs, internships, and career guidance. The week’s events, which ran from January 22 to January 27, attracted more than 2,000 students and young alumni, and included everything from panels on specific career tracks and discussions about balancing work and life issues to a wine-tasting and etiquette dinner for seniors. The Duke Alumni Association, along with the Duke Career Center, was the chief sponsor.

Among the goals, according to the sponsors, were to “build and support the Duke career community”; “introduce employers with internships, summer opportunities, and full-time jobs”; “encourage mentoring and networking”; “showcase the myriad career choices available”; “share strategies and suggestions for success”; “provide opportunities for reflection about complex career-related issues”; and, above all, to “make connections.”

Some alumni represented their employers at the week’s Career and Summer Opportunities Fair. Since many firms do their hiring in the fall, the fair traditionally attracts fewer employers than September’s Career Fair, but this year it set a record with ninety-five organizations—compared with eighty-two in 2006. “One of the things that is different this year is that the economy is very good,” said Sheila Curran, the Fannie Mitchell Executive Director of the Career Center. Curran noted that some alumni were lured back to campus by a pair of men’s basketball home games on January 25 and 28.

The final day of Career Week brought the Fannie Mitchell Career Conference. Panels of alumni spoke at workshops geared to career fields including advertising and public relations, biotechnology, finance, government and defense, investment banking, nonprofit and social responsibility, journalism, and scientific research. Many alumni counseled students not to worry too much about their first jobs out of college, pointing out that new college graduates can expect to wear more hats during their working lives than previous generations have.

One alumnus who has gone through his share of career changes is Wilson Adam Schooley J.D. ’80, who spoke on the “Public and Social Law” panel. After graduating from Duke Law School, he joined a large corporate law firm in California and moonlighted as a professional film, television, and theater actor. Finding his corporate work unsatisfying, Schooley resigned his high-salaried partnership at the firm to pursue indigent criminal defense at the appellate level and serve as an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego. “What I found is that I’m just as happy now as I was then,” Schooley told attendees. “I just had to spend a lot more money to be happy back then, because I was doing work I didn’t enjoy.”