Recruiting at Duke MBA (Fuqua)

With my MBA journey at Duke Fuqua coming to an end, I thought it'd be a great time to wrap up and reflect upon my experiences in the past 2 years. In an effort to write things that my readers care the most about, a while back I reached out to GMATClub and sought out questions. I plan to answer one of these questions per post over the next couple of months. So stay tuned for more content that have been decided by you, the reader.

That brings us to the first post. The #1 question that readers were most curious about was my recruiting experience in the Duke MBA. This is understandable, as unless you're going to sponsored or plan to start your own company, getting hired after graduating is likely the most tangible goal for most MBA students. This is no exception at Duke Fuqua, as recruiting takes up a big chunk of time in the first year of the MBA, and can in the second year as well.

MBA Recruiting - First Year

Here's a rough timeline of how first year recruiting works in the Duke MBA, which is also roughly the same across all MBA schools in the US. Most firms that hire MBAs follow the same schedule. (click image to enlarge)

MBA Recruiting Timeline
First Year MBA Recruiting Timeline - Click Image to Enlarge
Recruiting in the first year of the Duke MBA begins in the summer when students revise their resumes to the Fuqua format and also works with the Career Management Center (CMC) to refine resume and cover letter content. CMC staff are divided by industry sector (health care, consulting, marketing, finance, etc) and I worked very closely with the health care sector and marketing staff during the process.

The CMC also provides basic information on reaching out to Fuqua alumni working at target companies and also helps students build their networking list. This is important as most recruiting activities in the first 2 terms in the fall revolve around heavy networking. Setting up informational interviews with managers at target firms is key to learning about companies and building the foundation to convince recruiters on why you want to work there later on. It also helps students narrow down industry and firm choices. You can read more about my advice for informational interviews here.

The Career Fellow

One aspect about the recruiting at the Duke MBA is the career fellow - second year MBA students that are each assigned to 5 first years. Career fellows are matched to first years who have similar career interests and help first years with their resumes, cover letters, and interview prep. It's a lot of work for the second year students but the concept makes sense - second years just returned from the battlefield of first year recruiting and know what works and doesn't work in the trenches. 

Another valuable service that career fellows provide is that they help keep first years meeting their deliverables by deadlines set by the CMC. This allows students to keep up with industries where recruiting happens fast, such as banking, consulting, and corporate roles such as finance and marketing. 

I know this is mentioned frequently on my blog, but having career fellows is another example of excellent student engagement at Fuqua.

Company Presentations and On Campus Networking Events

Starting in September/October, companies that recruit on campus will send their representatives (oftentimes Fuqua alumni) on campus to meet with students in person. Companies send both recent grads and very senior people so it's a great way to gain multiple perspectives from different people who work for the same company. Events that companies hold include presentations, receptions, happy hours, and coffee chats. Big companies like Johnson &Johnson with diverse businesses will also have break out sessions for different subsidiaries or functions.

A lot of companies also hold educational events for students that combine networking with learning. I've attended educational events hosted by Amgen, Genentech, Deloitte, and Mckinsey. Usually food and beer is served, and managers at these companies may review a case with students or talk about industry trends in a casual setting.

I really enjoyed networking with the companies that came on campus. Not just to learn about the company, but also to simply make friends and just to get to meet some really smart people. I've mentioned multiple times that a company's people are the key factor when choosing a summer internship, so you may find people who you genuinely admire and can serve as role models. These folks are often very passionate about the same industry/function that you're interesting, so chatting an evening away with beer in hand is just a lot of fun.

Week in Cities

Week in Cities is a week-long event that happens between the Fall 1 & Fall 2 terms where students travel to industry hubs in the US to visit companies. This complements informational interviews and company events well and show recruiters that you're genuinely interested in the company. I've written about this here.

Resume and Cover Letter Drop

December is the month for most resume drop deadlines for companies, especially ones that recruit on campus. After that it's just a waiting game. During winter break at Fuqua, students start hearing back from companies on whether or not students made it to the closed interview list. It's a nerve-wracking time, as Fall 2 finals also are around the same time for Duke MBA students. Fall 2 is notorious for being the hardest term of the entire Fuqua MBA - a rite of passage for all Duke first year MBA students.


Interview prep should begin as early as October/November if you're doing consulting as casing takes a lot of time to conquer. For corporate roles that have minimal cases, most interview prep would begin in December during winter break. A lot of it is reaching out to your career fellow and other second year students for mock interviews. As a first year I mocked with maybe 10 or so second years, and they were all very responsive and actively made themselves available to help out. These are second years that did their internship at the same company and/or for the same function that I was interviewing for. 

Another resource for first year MBAs are case books and actual interview questions from the past few years. Some of them are company-specific as every company has their own unique style in interviews. This was helpful in saving time and feeling prepared for the actual interview. The CMC also provides stylistic advice for interviewing and makes sure your S.T.A.R (situation, task, action, result) stories are solid and polished. 

I cannot stress how important mock interviewing with second years and the CMC was to my recruiting. These are people that want you to succeed and will be honest with you and tell you point blank why your response sucks and how to improve it. It's critical to hear this early on and not after the interview season is over.

MBA Recruiting - Second Year

A lot of second year MBA students need to recruit again after they return from the summer - including students who have received return offers. It's essentially the same process as the first year, except everything happens in a compressed timeline. Recruiting for on campus opportunities usually end by Fall 1 or Fall 2 in the second year of the Duke MBA, and off campus opportunities can still be pursued even after graduation. Students tend to be a little more picky with second year recruiting as this is where people have to go after the Duke MBA. 

Recruiting, Stressful and FUN

Thinking back, recruiting is a very stressful experience until you get your first offer. The anxiety affects a lot of students as there's so many variables outside of your control, unlike with your grades. This is all normal and is just part of the complete MBA experience. This is why it's important to be surrounded by supportive and engaging classmates, as Duke MBA students really bond together during this time and support one another. In addition, students get to meet really cool people during the recruiting season, and is another great way to build and expand your MBA network while having fun at the same time.

This post is part of my Duke MBA Insights Series where I answer frequently asked questions about Fuqua. These are questions that I've received from readers throughout the 2 years and also sourced from GMATClub. Check out the page here to read the other posts in the series. Also feel free to ask questions about the Duke MBA anywhere on this site, which I may include in the series in the future.

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