Take baby steps on the road to success | Duke Kunshan University

Take baby steps on the road to success

By Momoko Mandare ’22
Contributing writer

Brand consultant Alison Rose, who graduated from Duke in 2014

Thinking about how to navigate a successful career after graduation? Be guided by your future goals and present needs, but be prepared for your definition of success to change along the way.

That was the message from marketing consultant Allison Rose when she spoke to students as part of DKU’s alumni speaker series, which connects undergraduates with members of the Duke Alumni Network. Rose is a 2014 graduate of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

Figuring out a successful career path depends largely on a person’s values and aspirations, but success is an ever-changing construct, said Rose, who worked as a senior brand consultant at Labbrand in Shanghai until March.

How accomplished a person feels is relative to their needs and goals, she said, explaining that someone may have a goal to travel around the world while also needing to land a decent salary to pay off a student loan. Our present situation and future aspirations determine success, she said.

Rose, who is now working toward an MBA at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, also emphasized the importance of students exploring the many options available to them while at school.

From taking classes in computer science to teaching in Vietnam, she explained that experimenting allowed her to learn useful skills and figure out what she enjoyed. While she did not end up majoring in computer science or working as a teacher overseas, the experiences gave her clarity on what she wanted to do with her life.

She also stressed that it’s important to start small.

When it comes time to consider a career path or decide on that next big step, Rose said that it can feel like every decision is monumental or unchangeable, but “you don't have to have a complete goal or a world-class resume yet.”

A career isn’t built in a single move; it takes many baby steps in a particular direction, she said, explaining that students should break down their goals in parts rather than shoot for the moon.

“Simple is good enough. Start slow, but do start,” Rose said, adding that the path we choose in life will shift as our priorities change, especially in times like these, when there is much uncertainty. It’s important to be flexible.

"What’s important to me has changed a lot along the way,” she said. “What I define as success today is different from my definition before. It’s important to constantly reflect on these changes.”