Finding the perfect fit: How do Duke students pick their on-campus jobs?

Hundreds of Duke students take advantage of the opportunity to work on-campus jobs, but what distinguishes certain jobs as the ideal choice for students?

Duke offers a wide variety of student work opportunities, with jobs that span from conducting research in labs to selling jerseys to Duke fans at the University Store. The specific criteria that students seek for their jobs are just as varied as the jobs themselves. Some look for roles that align with their academic interests, whereas others pursue work that they simply find enjoyable.

For some students, the perfect job is one that relates to their academic and extracurricular passions. In order to gain hands-on experience, students may work within an academic department or aid in a research project that they find interesting. Other students cater their jobs to their hobbies — a student who has an interest in fitness may gravitate towards opportunities at the Wilson Fitness Center. 

First-year Sare Koruk decided to pursue a job as an undergraduate research assistant in the neuroscience department because it allows her to get “hands-on experience in a lab” and learn alongside graduate students.

Graduate students have access to even more specialized opportunities. Language corridor advisors such as Syed Habeeb Tehseen, a doctoral student in the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies, are tasked with organizing events and promoting programs such as the Duke in Berlin program. 

“I have interest in German cinema, and I get to show German films to the undergraduate students, so that’s something I’m excited [about],” said Habeeb.

One of the more popular student employers on campus is Duke University Libraries, which employs over 250 students for a variety of jobs.

Junior Andrew Huang, who is employed at the Link in Perkins Library, emphasized the comparatively “chill” nature of his job assisting people in checking out laptops and chargers from the library. He added that knowing his coworkers helped entice him to apply.

“It's not as hectic as doing lab research or something like that,” Huang said. Even though he has only been working at the Link for a few days, he finds the job “really fun.”

Flexibility is another sought-after aspect of undergraduate work. Students often juggle many commitments, including classes, organizations and other extracurricular activities. Flexible work-study jobs allow students to integrate work more easily into their hectic schedules.

Sophomore Valentina Garbelotto, an employee of the Gothic Bookshop, explained that she chose her job because she is able to pick her own hours and construct her schedule around her classes. 

During the interview process, Garboletto appreciated how understanding the Gothic Bookshop was about common conflicts such as classes and meetings. 

“I just wanted a place that would understand that I'm a student and that my job is secondary,” she said.

Freshman Samia Evans chose her job in the mailroom for similar reasons. According to Evans, work in the mailroom is convenient because of flexible hours and the fact that they are closed on weekends.

In addition to flexibility, some students are drawn to relaxed work environments. The rigor of classes often leaves students with a desire for casual jobs that do not impose extensive mental strain. 

Some students, like freshman Derek Zhang, house a desire to serve the Duke community while making “spare change” through their on-campus jobs.

In 2022, Duke increased the minimum wage for student job postings to $15 per hour, a jump from the previous $10.50. For "general positions," the current approved pay range is $15.75 to $20.25, according to an email from Duke Student Employment. For "more specialized positions," the range is $16.75 to $23.25.

As an employee for the Duke Annual Fund Phonathon, Zhang connects with alums and solicits donations for the University.

“It's a great way to give back to the Duke community, as well as help fund programs that I might in the future use,” Zhang said.

Editor's note: Andrew Huang is a contributing reporter.

Lara Kendall

Lara Kendall is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.   


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