Lessons Learned from MMS and the Job Search

The past 6 months were the longest half-year I’ve ever had. It was filled with hopes and let-downs and hopes again. It seemed as if I had entered an endless cycle, starting with job applications, then on-site interviews, ending with rejection calls. There are a ton of different trajectories to landing a job, and I’m sure mine is very much different from what yours will be. I wish to share the lessons I learned, and I hope some of these lessons can be of help, or at least entertainment.

LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn

Quite frankly, I got my current job through LinkedIn, which I found is the most useful online resource I could get my hands on. Duke’s eRecruiting is decent, but it is more geared toward undergrad Dukies. Fuqua’s internal career services website includes a lot of information, but the job openings are not always aimed at international students. LinkedIn, however, is a one-size-fits-all type of service. Regardless of whether I need sponsorship, LinkedIn was my best bet in terms of applying for positions online. I usually spent 30 minutes a day clicking around on LinkedIn, checking out people’s and companies’ profiles and applying to positions that fit me. Sniffing around LinkedIn everyday allowed me to quickly pinpoint opportunities, whether it was a new job posting or a networking opportunity. I also found LinkedIn was the best way to keep up with industry specific news, which was super handy during phone interviews.

Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up

This is by far the most important job-hunting skill I learned. Had I not done it well, I would still be unemployed. The reason to follow up is really simple. HR departments come across resume after resume, email after email, face after face … The only way to put myself on their radar was to keep showing up on their radar. Once, twice, 3 times, 4 times, 5 times, and 6 times. If you have read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, you know the importance of “stickiness.” Following up with HR 5 or 6 times might seem redundant or inefficient, but it worked for me. I started the interview process with my current company back in early April, and half way through the interview process, things came to a halt. I kept following up and eventually, 3 months later, I was offered an on-site interview. The point is that I didn’t make assumptions about what was going on inside the company and I didn’t give up when they stopped responding. The best thing I could do was to keep blinking on their radar.

Faith, Faith, Faith

I proudly graduated from the MMS program and became a product support engineer at a software company in California. Looking back, MMS was my most fruitful academic year. In all honesty, it is not the technical skills I gained in the classroom that stand out to me (although I learned a lot). It is the bonds with fellow MMSers and my personal growth that matter the most. Yes, for me, landing a job was tough, exhausting, and seemed never ending. But over the past 6 months, I learned to seize hope and have faith. And that is what I consider the best takeaway from MMS.

James Chen

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MMS, Class of 2013. Find out more about me...

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