Hiring Spotlight – Daniel Duncan

June 24, 2021

Daniel Duncan

Daniel Duncan joined Yale in May 2019 as a temporary Library Services Assistant. In March 2020, he was offered a regular Library Services Assistant III position at the Haas Arts Library. We spoke with Dan about his career journey, how to succeed in a new role, and his efforts to increase inclusivity within the community.

Tell us about your career journey?
My career journey is a long one to describe as I have shifted careers completely over the last several years.  I spent a long time as an independent working musician performing all over the U.S., teaching and doing genealogical freelance work.  I have spent the larger part of my life researching in libraries, so I made the leap to join one of the finest library systems in the country.

I had applied for various positions at Yale with no success after moving to Connecticut from Massachusetts. Trying to find an urban environment with diversity led my family and me to New Haven, and we love it here. I quickly learned of New Haven Works and signed up. This was the crucial first step. I quickly learned where my tenacity and writing skills paid off.  Working with a job coach at New Haven Works can only benefit you if you listen to their advice and take the recommended steps.  I signed up for a meet and greet, made myself available at the drop of a hat to work with my coach, meet with Yale representatives, and follow their advice. Speaking and presenting yourself well is a skill I would recommend getting good coaching on if that is a challenge for you.

Dan is a researcher at his core, which gives him an immediate connection to the students and faculty coming into the library. His empathy and curiosity are assets in his public-facing role as well as the behind-the-scenes part of the job, because he’s always thinking about what we do in terms of how we can get library patrons what they need. Lindsay King, Associate Director for Access and Research Services, Haas Art Library

Besides your regular role, you are involved with several committees at Yale. Can you tell us more about that?
I am engaged with Yale’s LGBTQ Affinity Group, support the trans subcommittee, and serve on the Library Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) advisory committee. My story can be summed up best by my recent article in the Daily Beast, where I spoke about the ongoing issues trans people face in the U.S.

Yale has committed to improving diversity and inclusion through affinity groups that serve various communities. Yet, we find ways to come together, such as our upcoming event viewing and discussing the film Kumu Hina co-hosted with ANY (Asian Network at Yale). In addition, we just had our yearly social event online, of course, that raised money for the New Haven Pride Center.  We’re also tackling large projects involving improving healthcare services for the LBGTQ community. I could not be more excited about being a member of this wonderful group of people!

What are your tips for New Haven jobseekers?
Success has many layers and isn’t something that stops when you get that job. The two big messages I have are getting your foot in the door and then showing your work habits. First, getting your foot in the door starts with finding the right person to help hone your resume that can uncover your true potential on paper. No matter what, your set of eyes are not enough. This is where my coach at New Haven Works made the difference because I listened and worked hard to outline what I had to offer and areas where I needed to improve.

Second, once you get an offer, especially as a temp employee, you must dig in, be reliable, learn quickly, and go the extra mile to get noticed.  A good example would be when something comes up (it always does, so pay attention) and a group of people are asked who would like to help. You should be the first to volunteer. Try very hard not to have to be asked to do anything twice. Go into work seeing what needs to be done, and doing it without being asked. Once you start applying for regular opportunities, this work ethic will follow you.  Just remember to continue this after you get that job. Moving into a new position or being promoted happens when you go the extra mile, even when it seems like no one is watching.