When Jonathan Woodward, Duke MBA Class of 2019 and Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Scholar, sent out the initial Fuqua First Jobs Newsletter, he thought no one would sign up. In a mere 48 hours, however, all of that changed. Over 300 people signed up almost instantly and dozens of Fuqua alumni, staff and faculty reached out to offer support – helping Woodward realize that he could have a real positive impact during COVID-19 through something as simple as a newsletter.
“I started the newsletter because I saw it as an easy way that I could use what I am good at, like marketing and finding jobs, to reach and help a large number of people during COVID-19,” said Woodward. “It has not only allowed me to fulfill my desire to do more to give back, but it has also shown me just how strong Team Fuqua is and how everyone goes out of their way to help each other out.”
Started on a Sunday in mid-April, the initial Fuqua First Jobs Newsletter included a wide-range of jobs for recent MBA graduates that Woodward gathered by scouring the internet. However, after talking with several people who received his newsletter, he identified that its real value could be fostering connections within the Fuqua community. As a result, every Sunday, Woodward sends out a list of jobs that he crowdsourced from alumni who are hiring, or who know someone that is hiring, and are willing to help connect Fuqua students to internships or employment, or provide general career advice.
“We always talk about how strong Team Fuqua is and how people are always willing to help and I guess I knew that, but this is one of the first times that I have seen tangible evidence of how strong our network is,” said Woodward. “I have been amazed and humbled that chief executive officers and vice presidents of prominent organizations who graduated years and years ago are willing to sit down and have a virtual cup of coffee with a recent graduate to talk about their career – there really is no cap to Team Fuqua’s potential to support anyone and everyone in our community.”
While the newsletter is still relatively new, Woodward has seen instances of its positive impact from the two to three emails he gets from individuals each day saying that they are benefiting from informational interviews, job leads and just general hope that they get from the newsletter. There is not yet a plan for the future of the newsletter, but Woodward is hoping that it will continue to grow and expand to include more international opportunities, among other things. In the meantime, he said, “Even if this newsletter just helps one person out, I am motivated to continue doing it.”
He continued, “There are a lot of problems out there and I believe that even the smallest impact repeated over time can create meaningful change and so that is what I am setting out to do.”
For those who are looking for jobs, Woodward has three parting pieces of advice:
1. Segmentation is important.
Certain industries are impacted more by COVID-19 than others – despite the job market being hit, some industries like e-commerce are seeing growth, so don’t be afraid to explore them.
2. Be open.
Remain flexible about what type of job you are willing to take – an open mind offers an opportunity for growth.
3. Leverage the alumni database.
Reach out to as many people as possible to cultivate relationships and ask advice. Do not be afraid of putting yourself out there, as people are generally very willing to help. Additionally, pay specific attention to your weak ties, as they can present the opportunity to network with a wider circle outside of your comfort zone.