August Mao

This edition of Career Corner features Maverick Shuck (‘25 Political Science and Peace Studies & Justice Studies major; Leadership Studies and Honors Program minor). Shuck attended the From California to the White House event which featured August Mao, who shared how he utilized networking to get where he works today – The White House. 

As summer quickly approaches, students are once again entangled in the vast, complex, erratic, and unpredictable process of trying to find an internship or even a job. Whether it is a high school student looking for their first internship, an undergraduate student looking for their next summer internship, or a graduating senior looking for their first full-time job outside of the education sphere, finding opportunities can prove to be difficult.

The From California to the White House event, featuring August Mao, offered a different perspective on internships and job hunting. Hosted by Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and the Political Science Department, Mao, Lead Product Manager overseeing the Campus Operations Portfolio and Head Liaison to the White House, discussed his career journey from being a Duke University alumni that no recruiters wanted to hire, to his “dream job” at the White House.

What was Mao’s secret to landing the jobs and internships that got him to his dream job? Networking.

“As an undergraduate student, I sent out hundreds of emails every month to different people in search of opportunities. Slowly but surely, I built a network,” he said. 

Mao went on to describe how during his time at Duke he built a large and robust network with professionals and classmates. Throughout that time, whenever he would get an internship or a new job, he would email or text his network and give them an update. He stayed in touch.

According to Mao, although he believed his resume wasn’t enough to land him a job at Booz Allen Hamilton, a tech company he applied to, his connection was enough to get him an interview. Ultimately, he got the job. He vividly recounts that at a meet-and-greet for new hires he ran into his fellow Duke classmates, and none of them could believe he got the job. He was even asked if he forged his work I.D. card.

Mao explained that networking (LinkedIn specifically) really helped take his network to the next level. Following that first job at Booz Allen Hamilton he went on to become a Principal at Salesforce, which eventually led him to the White House.

“Having a robust network has given me the ability to just reach out and ask if anyone he knows is hiring, skipping the normal application process,” Mao said. 

Now, I have a better understanding that having a wide and diverse network will help me and others advance and succeed, and I am motivated to do whatever I can to build and develop my network so I can take my goals and aspirations to the next level.

(Photo in header: Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash)