Four graduates of Duke’s East Asian Studies Master’s degree program, Helen Wu, Vivian Wang, Huijuan Li, and Veronica Zhao, participated in a dynamic alumni panel at the John Hope Franklin Center on November 19, 2016. Reconnecting for the first time since their graduation, our alumni reflected on what it was like to live and study at Duke and offered essential career advice to current students.
Mian Wu (Helen), who is working toward a PhD in the Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development program at NC State University, told current students that it is important to balance academic life with a healthy social life. She advised students that a good way to develop a social network is to volunteer.
Wu spent a summer volunteering with the Catawba College Center for the Environment during her time at Duke. When she started applying for jobs, she approached her volunteer advisor and asked him to give a recommendation for a position she was interested in at the nursing school at Duke. Because of her advisor’s high recommendation, she landed the job.
Vivian Wang talked candidly about the challenges she faced while writing her final capstone research project. Although she enjoyed research, she decided that she wanted to apply for jobs instead of a PhD program. She soon landed an internship with UPS and later started teaching Chinese language with the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department at Duke, having the unique opportunity to do both at the same time.
Huijuan Li offered words of encouragement to students who continued to feel the pressures of graduate school while coping with a new environment and academic life. After a tough first year, Li decided to start working at Perkins library and also as a student assistant with APSI. Meanwhile, she took courses from different departments and gradually located her research interests in the histories of women and Christianity in China. In the spring of 2016, Li was accepted to the history PhD program at Duke.
Veronica Zhao talked about job hunting after graduation and her experience doing interviews before she landed her current position at New Mind Education, a company that provides educational programs and support to international students at American colleges and universities.
Zhao noted that the interview process goes both ways—it is important to also ask the company questions during the interview because it provides insight into whether you are a good fit for the company. Zhao encouraged students to not get discouraged, but to persevere until they find the right opportunities.
After our alumni spoke, current students had the opportunity to ask questions about the search process for internships and jobs.