By: Rebecca Cope, TCS Duke University Chapter President
On March 5th, the Duke University Chapter of The Coastal Society hosted the first North Carolina Coastal Career Day at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort. The event attracted undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from many North Carolina universities, including Duke, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and East Carolina University (ECU), as well as new professionals in coastal environmental fields. The day started with casual networking over morning coffee. Attendees were able to chat with representatives from each of the event’s sponsors, which spanned a diverse range of sectors, such as non-profits, consulting firms, engineering companies, and both state and federal government agencies.
Master of ceremonies, Siddartha Mitra of ECU, kicked off the day with welcoming remarks and then a rapid-fire session of presentations and Q&A about how each coastal professional began their careers. These conversations allowed attendees to ask their most burning questions about job searching, the hiring process and possible career paths in an informal and relaxed setting. We got to know each other a bit better during the speed-networking session, which allowed attendees to visit each prospective employer at their table and chat for a few minutes. This really helped break the ice and got the conversations flowing, just in time to enjoy lunch with some new members of our professional network. After lunch, we heard from more coastal professionals who gave us excellent advice on everything from resume writing to negotiating salaries. We finished the day by practicing interview skills with questions picked from a hat. Attendees were able to get instant feedback from professionals experienced in the hiring process.
The Coastal Society’s Coastal Career Days provide an opportunity for students to connect with potential employers and learn about the diverse range of paths that can lead to a successful career, including some paths that aren’t so obvious. At the same time, it provides an avenue for Coastal Career Day sponsors to reach out to talented new or soon-to-be professionals with valuable skills and knowledge. Marianne Ferguson of the Duke Marine Lab said, “I appreciated learning about the federal contracting process from Jill Meyer [representative from CSS-Dynamac]. As someone who is interested in working for NOAA in fisheries management, her advice on when and where to look for contracting jobs and what the hiring process is like was really helpful.” Marianne recently followed up on a lead she heard about at Coastal Career Day and applied for a contract job with NOAA.
The first North Carolina Coastal Career Day was a huge success thanks to our planning committee members, sponsors, and attendees. We hope to continue this tradition and provide young professionals and employers the opportunity to connect. After all, we need to work together to solve the problems facing North Carolina’s coast!
Editors’ Note: Read about TCS’s pilot Coastal Career Day in Virginia in November 2015. TCS Blog Article “9 Tips for a Successful Start to Your Coastal Career”.