Duke PhD Students build Networks and Skills through Summer Internships

Duke Classical Studies believes in supporting our graduate students as they build valuable, transferable skills and work experience for careers in higher ed and beyond higher ed.
This past summer, Sinja Küppers worked as a provostial intern for the Curriculum Development Committee (CDC) at Duke. Here is what she writes about her experience: "With my research on best practices and peer institutions, I supported the faculty committee in a 2-3-years long process of revamping the undergraduate curriculum at Duke. By collecting data on the requirements for undergraduate education at peer institutions, I gained insight into trends in higher education. I summarized the most important differences between peer institutions and identified important research papers on key educational programs and high-impact practices. The committee chair, Dr. Scott Huettel, encouraged me to research topics aligned with my own interests in the philosophy and practice of undergraduate education. As a result, I learned about educational policies on grading and assessment, undergraduate research opportunities, critical thinking and habits of mind. My research was informed by questions about student demography and equity, such as: who participates in which college programs, what impacts major choice and demographic preferences, and how to promote student exploration. I discussed my results in weekly updates with the committee chair and with the relevant subcommittees whose follow-up questions would guide my further research. At the end, I produced summary papers and charts that provide input on the above topics and highlight the most important literature and points to discuss in the context of the future of the Duke curriculum with the full committee in the fall and spring semester. What was especially interesting to me was the challenge to create a balanced research report by identifying research papers and op-eds that speak for and against specific curricular interventions and to illuminate the effects of curricular changes from the perspective of different stakeholders in higher education. E.g., I researched the benefits and disadvantages of course-based vs. independent undergraduate research for different student populations while also considering the costs of undergraduate research to faculty in terms of workload, research budget, and tenure-and-promotion-policies. Overall, the CDC internship gave me the opportunity to gain insight into the process of curriculum design and engage with research trends and current practices at peer institutions. As an instructor, I gained a better understanding of why specific curriculum codes are used at Duke and what prompted curricular innovations in the past. I also learned navigating research in a field with which I was previously unfamiliar. Last but not least, I enjoyed the results-oriented work and my discussions with a great advisor who shared his own interests in the topics and inspired my curricular research."
PhD student Melissa Baroff applied for a Duke Graduate Training Enhancement Grant to create her own internship in partnership with the Women's Classical Caucus with an eye towards her plans for a career in k-12 education. This is what Melissa had to say about her experience: "I worked with WCC co-chair Suzanne Lye to plan and execute a panel on K-12 teaching. This panel covered a variety of topics, including the day-to-day life of a K-12 teacher and the sorts of K-12 teaching jobs available for Classics scholars. The panel attracted a number of Classics scholars from across the country, from undergraduate students to experienced teachers. The lengthy and productive discussion which followed was extremely beneficial for my career development, as I hope to become a K-12 teacher. The organization and execution of this panel gave me the opportunity to meet potential mentors and plan for my future career.
I also compiled a document of resources for K-12 teachers and aspiring K-12 teachers, which will be turned into a webpage on the WCC website. This webpage will also include video excerpts from the K-12 panel and summaries of the various presentations for future aspiring K-12 teachers. This will launch the WCC K-12 series, which will include mentorship and educational opportunities for current and aspiring K-12 teachers. My time with the WCC gave me the opportunity to develop a professional network and to learn event coordination skills. My excitement for my future career was invigorated by the passion and dedication of the educators I had the opportunity to work with and I look forward to continuing my work with the WCC’s K-12 programming."
For current and future PhD students, many opportunities are available - talk to the department's DGS today!