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Making a Strong First Impression and Impact in Your Work this Summer

by the Duke Engineering Master’s Career Services & Professional Development Team


As we transition to summer, many students are taking on new roles.  Regardless of whether your summer includes work, internships, projects, lab, classes, or any combination, it is a good time to refine your approach to making a strong first impression and a lasting impact.


Below are five tips with some reference material to help you dive deeper. We’ve posted this here so that you can access over the next few months: what you need at the middle or end of the summer may be different than what you expect right now. In fact, don’t presume that the advice expires at the end of the summer; you may find this to be helpful throughout your career.


  1. First things first.

Quickly build a reputation for being a top performer by getting the little things right and remaining focused on the tasks you’re asked to do. To paraphrase some direct advice from a Hollywood producer, “If I can’t trust you to show up on time, how can I trust you with a client or a contract?” Your access to more advanced responsibilities or relationships tends to be determined by your current performance.


  1. Remember the Seven Indicators for Search Success.

Before you start this new endeavor, take a design-based approach and consider the experiences you want to gain and the relationships you want to build. Use the next months to purposefully seek out opportunities to build your strengths and show your motivation.


  1. Meet alumni and other locals.

Take full advantage of in-person relationship-building while you are able. For example, Duke has regional alumni networks all around the world. As a student, you are welcome as part of the “Forever Duke” network.  We encourage you to reach out to introduce yourself and learn the best ways to participate. Beyond Duke, you can also search Meetup, EventBrite, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any relevant professional organizations for local opportunities that are open to the public. Use a common personal or professional interest as a natural way to meet others.


  1. Continue using Career Services.

We are available to help current Duke Engineering Master’s students navigate your career successes or challenges throughout the summer and for four years after graduation. It can be about search strategy, navigating a difficult work or internship situation, or any other career-related situation.


  1. Have Fun.

Take a breath, enjoy your new colleagues, explore your environment, notice how you’re growing. Be both spontaneous and planful. Right-size your life so that you try new things and follow through on your commitments.


Finally, if you want an extensive list of ideas for workplace success, this Business Insider piece has many good ideas. Just don’t get carried away and follow their recommendation to do them all in your first day!

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