Advising the advisers: DSG Senate discusses Career Center improvements

The Duke Student Government Senate got to give input to Duke’s career advising center at its Wednesday meeting. 

The Senate heard a presentation from Gregory Victory, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and Fannie Mitchell executive director of the Duke Career Center, and discussed how the Career Center can improve to meet students’ needs and expectations.

DSG Senators had the opportunity to hear from Victory about the Career Center’s recent effort to advise and guide students of all majors. Victory arrived from Tufts University in July and said he is excited to join the University, and wants to make sure that the Career Center provides necessary services for students. 

Victory is working to ensure that students of diverse backgrounds and career paths get the support they need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Career Center realized how virtual appointments can eliminate some of the logistical problems, and Victory said he wants to continue supporting students virtually after the pandemic ends. His job during the first few months, however, is to listen to students’ concerns.

After the presentation, Victory took questions and advice from the senators. 

Senator Dan King, a sophomore, raised questions about how the Career Center advises students of various financial backgrounds.

“There are concerns among students who want to find a job that is marketable and pays well, but that also reflects what they’re passionate about. What steps can the Career Center take to promote employment opportunities for students that strike a balance between these two issues and allow students and alumni to get the most out of their Duke experience?” King asked.

Victory responded that although the Career Center always wants students to pursue their passion, there is the truth to the “marketability” of specific fields. He said he wants to have conversations with students to understand the financial aspects of their choice and how to tailor their interests in a financially feasible way. Right now, he said he wants to focus on increasing unpaid internship funding so more students can take advantage of those opportunities.

Senator Hana Hendi, a sophomore, asked how the Career Center has been working toward building an extensive alumni network. Victory acknowledged that, historically, the Career Center has not done a good job connecting students to such a network. He is working to connect the two resources and ensure that students can easily access both. His general advice in the meantime was to get familiar with LinkedIn and reach out to Duke alumni there.

Junior Senator Nehal Jain said the Career Center was not helpful regarding concrete counseling for students’ resumes. 

Junior Ramya Ginjupalli, vice president for campus life, and sophomore Senator Sawyer O’Keefe voiced their concerns that students often do not know that they have access to the resources provided by the Career Center. Senator Alex Leo-Guerra, a sophomore, said he intends to create more opportunities for students to get acquainted with the Center.

In other business:

The Senate heard updates from the Academic Affairs and Campus Life committees.

In Academic Affairs, senators are working on several projects focused on academics. Among these are creating DukeHub 2.0, fixing e-printing through Duke’s Office of Information Technology, working on a mentorship program that strengthens the student-alumni process and offering part-time enrollment for spring 2021. 

The Campus Life Committee is working on projects to promote students’ quality of life during the pandemic. These projects include extending dining hours, creating more outdoor seating and having a food-point exchange program.

The Senate approved the charter of McKids, which provides volunteers for Ronald McDonald restaurants around Durham, and Duke Cyber, which offers students training on cybersecurity.

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