Skip to main content

More than a decade of data shows us that DukeEngage participants return from their summers of service with stronger teamwork, communication and critical thinking skills. We also know the experience strengthens their sense of self and increases their confidence and adaptability. They report a greater sense of personal and social responsibility and an increased global awareness. But does any of that boost their chances of landing a job after graduation — and thriving?

In a nutshell, yes. We are seeing evidence that DukeEngage participants will graduate with more employability skills desired by business executives as a result of having applied and used knowledge in their summer experiences. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Employers and hiring managers are more confident in higher education than the public, generally, according to data from the AAC&U and Gallup. However, employers still note significant skill gaps in recent college graduates. The gaps, it turns out, don’t seem to affect initial employment offers, but they do affect the graduates’ likelihood of promotion.

Skill gaps that affect likelihood of promotion are greatest in a number of top-tier skill areas sought by employers, including:

  • Working effectively on and with culturally diverse teams
  • Applying knowledge/skills to real world situations
  • Thinking critically/reasoning analytically
  • Making ethical judgments and decisions

That’s where graduates with significant experiential or “real-world” education appear to have a leg up. We call it the “DukeEngage Difference.”

How DukeEngage May Help Close the Gap: Working on Diverse Teams

  • 94% of DukeEngage participants work on teams, which may include fellow students, program leadership, and community members.
  • 97% of participants report DukeEngage improves teamwork skills — and that those gains are amplified over time, particularly with respect to responding cultural differences, advocating for their own ideas or opinions, and ability to negotiate.

How DukeEngage May Help Close the Gap: Applying Knowledge

  • 75% of participants intend to be more involved in the intellectual life of campus following their summer experience.
  • 60% integrate DukeEngage into academic plans.
  • 11% say DukeEngage influenced their research at Duke (such as a Senior Thesis).
  • 45% write about their DukeEngage experience in coursework, blogs, job materials and scholarship/fellowship essays.

How DukeEngage May Help Close the Gap: Critical & Ethical Thinking

  • Through programs and projects, students gain insights about the characteristics and diversity of the world around them.
  • Students report being more aware of their own level of privilege compared to others.
  • About 20% of students say their worldview or understanding of global/social issues had evolved during/through DukeEngage.



  1. AAC&U (2018): Fulfilling the American Dream: Liberal Education and the Future of Work
  2. Gallup (2018): Confidence in Institutions
  3. DukeEngage, Immersive Service & Pre-Professional Experiences: Findings on the Employability of DukeEngage Participants (2018)