At the year’s first Graduate and Professional Student Council meeting, members addressed a growing challenge—a bleak job market.
GPSC members reflected on the past academic year and discussed this year’s goals and upcoming events for the nine graduate and professional schools Tuesday. In particular, the executive members focused on ways to prepare graduate students to enter an increasingly competitive job market.
GPSC Vice President Bill Hunt, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in English, introduced a new position on the GPSC executive board—the Career Development Chair, held by Liz Bloomhardt, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering and material science. The new position was created in an attempt to expand effective practices being used in career counseling across Duke’s post-graduate programs.
In an interview after the meeting, GPSC President Felicia Hawthorne, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in genetics and genomics, said the addition of a Career Development Chair to GPSC will help to unify the many strengths of the different graduate and professional schools.
She said she is optimistic about this continuing effort to improve GPSC’s career development sector because she believes that the Graduate School currently has fewer career services than the other professional schools.
“In past years, Duke’s Graduate School was excluded from many career services [afforded to] students in [the professional schools],” Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne also serves on a panel currently searching for a third associate director for the Duke Career Center that will specifically assist graduate students.
Additionally, Hawthorne mentioned two challenges that graduate and professional programs continue to face—being overshadowed by undergraduate programs and relative unawareness about academic and social resources.
“It is easy for us to be forgotten, even though Duke has fewer [undergraduates] than [post-graduate] students,” Hawthorne said. “But ultimately, the biggest problem is communication. I’m in my fifth year, and I am still learning about the many resources available to me.”
Hawthorne hopes that through these new initiatives, GPSC can effectively spread awareness of the career resources Duke has to offer to its graduate students.
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Former GPSC president Dan Griffin, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in classics, also spoke to the council about issues that will continue over from the previous year, including Duke’s financial standing. He said he believes that Duke survived the 2008 financial crisis well, but the graduate and professional schools continue to be forced to make difficult financial decisions like many of their peer institutions.
“Although Duke did well comparatively, we had to roll back some [budget] cuts in addition to supporting the new Duke campus in China, so we will be facing the repercussions,” Griffin said.
The GPSC executive board also discussed the upcoming annual GPSC Campout—the graduate and professional schools’ largest event of the year, scheduled to take place Sept. 16. At the Campout, graduate students vie for men’s basketball season tickets, similar to an abridged Krzyzewskiville tenting process.
Basketball Committee co-chairs, Jonathan Kotula, fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in molecular genetics and microbiology, and Kristin McDonald, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in genetics and genomics, said the Campout will feature a new silent auction to raise money for the Emily K Center. Winners will have the opportunity to attend a closed men’s basketball practice and a small group dinner with men’s head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Other top prizes will include jerseys signed by Krzyzewski and men’s and women’s basketball players.