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10 Duke Career Tips for 2020

Make the new year your best yet with these learning ideas from colleagues

Top row, left to right: Amanda Frederick, Fateria Johnson and Erin Hull. Bottom row, left to right: Ron Evans, Anne Marie Adiletta and Anand Chowdhury. Illustrations by Chris Williams. Photography by Alex Boerner
Top row, left to right: Amanda Frederick, Fateria Johnson and Erin Hull. Bottom row, left to right: Ron Evans, Anne Marie Adiletta and Anand Chowdhury. Illustrations by Chris Williams. Photography by Alex Boerner

1. Mix It Up

Amanda Frederick visited much of Taiwan during a whirlwind work trip several years ago.

Amanda Frederick visited Taiwan through the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminars Grant.She visited 16 educational institutions, networked with dozens of university and government administrators and learned about the country’s culture as part of the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminars Grant.

The Fulbright opportunity is among the ways Frederick keeps her skills and career fresh. She also enrolls in professional courses, attends conferences and presents on international education.

“These experiences build confidence,” said Frederick, assistant director for the Duke University Center for International & Global Studies. “They make you a better employee for your current role and future aspirations.”  

Keisha Williams, assistant vice president of Duke’s Learning & Organization Development, agrees, saying developing hard and soft skills is essential in professional development. Hard skills are abilities such as technical skills; soft skills are attributes such as communication and time management.

“When you’re looking to hire someone, you want to know they have the knowledge of the field and the ability to build relationships,” Williams said.

2. Write Your Own Development Plan

Shortly after starting as a data administration analyst for the Office of the University Registrar, Anna Kourouniotis wrote a professional development plan. She listed goals such as learning the business analytics software “Power BI” and checked off objectives as she achieved them. She keeps the plan as a memento from her start at Duke several years ago. 

SuccessFactors, a human resources management system, offers a development plan template with prompts for identifying long and short-term goals and activities to reach them. 

Since creating her plan, Kourouniotis joined the Higher Education User Group, an international organization for schools that use Oracle software. She leads webinars on data solutions and social media practices for nearly 300 other Higher Education User Group members.

“I took the time to learn more about my profession,” Kourouniotis said.  

Get a development plan template at

3. Learn On the Go

Meet Anand Chowdhury. His 2005 Toyota Camry is a mobile classroom. 

Anand Chowdhury listens to a podcast or audiobook each day during his two-hour round-trip commute.Chowdhury, a clinical informatics fellow for Duke University Health System, listens to a podcast or audiobook each day during his two-hour round-trip commute from Greensboro to Durham. His playlist includes the American Thoracic Society’s “Out of the Blue” for critical care news. 

He uses OverDrive, provided for free by Duke University Libraries, for audiobooks.

According to LinkedIn’s latest “Workplace Learning Report,” learners are more social and mobile than ever.

“That uninterrupted time in the car gives me a moment to catch up on professional news and learn some valuable skills,” Chowdhury said. 

Find out about Overdrive:

4. Take a Class Online

Fateria Johnson pulls up LinkedIn Learning on her desk computer. 

Among her favorite topics from the training library are “PowerPoint: Designing Better Slides” for ways to use white space and “Strategic Thinking” for problem solving. 

Johnson, a medical records coder at Duke’s Patient Revenue Management Organization, has completed 30 courses on LinkedIn Learning. The platform, available to Duke employees at no charge, offers 13,000 courses covering business, technology and creative topics taught by industry experts in five languages.

Fateria Johnson takes classes on LinkedIn Learning.Professional development continues to shift to online learning, according to LinkedIn’s “Workplace Learning Report,” which found that 74 percent of employees want to learn during spare time at work.

“Survey data shows that employees want self-directed learning opportunities accessible in the flow of work,” the 2019 report says. “One way to accomplish that is through online learning, which enables employees to learn in the moment of need.”

In the new year, Johnson wants to become a certified professional medical auditor.

“I’ve seen previous jobs become obsolete because automated technology develops and replaces the human,” Johnson said. “I promised myself to keep learning to ensure I’m always ahead.”

Employees also have free access to Coursera, an online platform with 72 courses.

Access LinkedIn Learning and Coursera at

5. Join a Professional Group

Lisa Keister, professor of sociology and public policy, chairs the provost’s committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure, serves on the University Priorities Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee of Duke’s Academic Council. 

In these positions, an understanding of administrative processes at Duke and peer universities is helpful.

Keister deepened her understanding of higher education administration after Provost Sally Kornbluth and Valerie Ashby, Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, sponsored her participation in HERS – Higher Education Resource Services, a leadership development and research institute for women in higher education.

Keister spent two weeks with the HERS leadership development program learning and networking with peers. She said that her time at HERS left her with a better understanding of how Duke and similar universities function. 

“The university leadership supported my interests,” she said. “I came away with a greater understanding of higher ed leadership.”

6. Take an Undergrad Class  

Erin Hull, a videographer for Duke University Health System, wanted to create medical animations for videos for patients about complicated health conditions. 

Erin Hull audited a class on animations using the Special Employee Tuition Rate Program.She used Duke’s “Special Employee Tuition Rate Program” to audit “3D Modeling and Animation” at Duke. Through the program, employees can take most Duke undergraduate courses starting at $975 or audit them for $100. 

With lessons from “3D Modeling and Animation,” Hull made simulations for a video on hernias of the diaphragm.    

“There’s a lot of talented people at Duke,” Hull said. “I want to discover what others are doing for inspiration and new ideas.” 

Get more info:

7. Get Certified 

In her role at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, Tammy Day monitors clinical trials by communicating with companies and visiting research sites across the country. 

“I deal in customer service every day,” said Day, senior clinical research associate. “It requires me to hone my soft skills.”

Most talent development professionals say soft skills such as creativity, collaboration, persuasion and time management are increasingly important because they can’t be automated.

Day sharpened these skills by earning a certificate in Customer Service Excellence from Duke’s Learning & Organization Development, a unit in Duke Human Resources. The program offers certificates in seven disciplines, including Training, Customer Service, Leadership and others. 

“One of my mottos is ‘you are never too old to learn,’” said Day, 56, who has worked at Duke for 34 years. 

Find out about certificates at

8. Be a Boss at Leadership 

Active listening – the technique of fully concentrating, reflecting, clarifying, summarizing, sharing and withholding judgment – is a skill Ron Evans, major for Duke University Police Department, learned in the Duke Leadership Academy.  

Ron Evans holds a glass globe he received for graduating from the Duke Leadership Academy.The academy is a year-long Duke Human Resources program in which participants analyze work and personality styles. They also collaborate on projects offering solutions to real-world concepts. 

Bill Wright-Swadel, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Executive Director for the Duke Career Center, said collaborative learning provides exposure to experiences and personalities. 

“As the workforce becomes more diverse, gaining experience communicating with people from different backgrounds is key to professional development,” he said.

One of Evans’ professional goals for 2020 is to create a program that spotlights colleagues who work behind the scenes in the Duke University Police Department.

“The leadership academy taught me to consider every relationship I have at work,” Evans said. 

Learn more on the Duke Leadership Academy by watching this video.

9. Align Your Passions 

Shortly after starting as a project manager at Duke Health Technology Solutions, Barry Grauel took the “CliftonStrengths” assessment through Duke’s Learning & Organization Development

Some of his strengths involve learning, analytical thinking and relationship building.

Using that information, Grauel is pursuing training in “Design Thinking,” a method of problem solving that uses empathy and observation to teach new technologies at Duke University Health System.

“I’ve always been a curious person. I love learning about people and solving complicated puzzles,” Grauel said. “The more interested you are in it, the more likely you’ll leverage what is learned.”

10. Go Back to School 

Anne Marie Adiletta was ready to rest after earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing Administration and three certifications. But after joining Duke in 2017, she returned to school for an advanced degree.

Anne Marie Adiletta used the Duke Employee Tuition Assistance Program to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice.“I am a lifelong learner, and I want to use education to make a positive impact on nursing that lives on beyond me” said Adiletta, clinical manager for Duke Homecare and Hospice.

Adiletta is enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and uses the Duke Employee Tuition Assistance Program toward tuition. The program provides up to $5,250 per year for eligible classes, including degrees at Duke such as the master's degree in Liberal Studies. 

“I want to be a better nurse, a better leader, a better person,” Adiletta said. “You have to commit to lifelong learning to achieve all of those things.”

Learn more:

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