Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Robinson Shares Experiences With Non-Profit Work

As the Executive Director of the MBNA Career Center, Sylvia Robinson directs Georgetown’s efforts to help students secure jobs and internships. Robinson attended Stanford University as an undergraduate and received a master’s degree in education from Occidental College. She has served as the director of various nonprofit organizations and also currently serves on the board of trustees for Johnson and Wales University.

What is the Executive Director responsible for?

As Executive Director, I am responsible for providing leadership and direction to the staff of the MBNA Career Education Center. The Center is charged with assisting undergraduates students in their job search efforts to secure internships and professional positions; teaching undergraduates and graduate students job search skills, including career planning and research, self assessment, resume writing and interview techniques; developing and expanding the base of employers interested in hiring Georgetown students and graduates and serving as the University’s resource on industry trends and employer expectations that should inform the curriculum and overall career planning for Georgetown’s undergraduate students.

Imagine you are a senior at Georgetown. What is your dream job, and what are you doing now to get there?

If I were a senior in the Class of 2005 at Georgetown, I would want to become a marine biologist and go on to pursue a “Jacques Cousteau-like” career sailing the far seas learning about marine life and seeing the world. If I weren’t going on to graduate school in marine biology right away, my dream job would be to work as a research assistant at a place like the arine Biology Laboratory at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod or the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. To make that happen, I would go to the Career Center and talk with an employment advisor to get help with my resume and learn more about job search strategies. I would also go to the websites for those companies and similar organizations. A Google search works wonders! And (I’d) check on their current job openings and application deadlines. In addition, I would network with professors, family and friends to see if they could provide advice and contacts to help with my job search.

In your opinion, what distinguishes Georgetown from its peer institutions in terms of graduates’ success in the job market?

Georgetown students have the advantages of studying with incredibly talented faculty at the oldest and most prestigious Catholic and Jesuit university in America, living and studying in one of the most vibrant cities in the world with many opportunities for internships and other experiences and enjoying the benefit of advice and support from a network of loyal and well placed alumni contacts in some of the best companies in America. All of those things, plus a fantastic staff at the Career Center, help Georgetown students have great success in the job market. By way of example, for the Class of 2004, 65 percent of Georgetown graduates reported having a job within three months of graduation, which is 14 percent higher than the national average.

Some people consider happiness to be essential to a purposeful life, and some say money is more important. Still others say that money can buy happiness. What do you think?

In my life, I have found that happiness is not a destination in life, but rather a stop along the way. It is wonderful to enjoy moments of happiness, joy and contentment, which I hope each of us experience with some regularity. I also think we all find many ways to bring happiness into our lives, through our work, our spiritual beliefs, our families, our friends and our sense of personal fulfillment and purpose in life. While I certainly don’t think that money brings happiness, I do think that the lack of basic needs and resources, such as food, clothing and shelter, can cause great unhappiness, and it does take a certain amount of money to ensure those needs are met.

What are the members of the Class of 2004 doing now? In terms of career fields, how do they compare to prior classes under your tenure at Georgetown?

In response to our Senior Survey as of September 30, 2004, members of the Class of 2004 reported that they were working (65 percent), attending graduate school (21 percent) and seeking employment (14 percent). These numbers reflect an improved job market, a much better market than students encountered in 2001 and 2002.

What kind of resources are available for GU students who are just beginning to think about life after graduation?

There are career counselors and employment advisors in the Career Center who are here to help students as they begin to contemplate life after graduation. We also have many books in our Career Library; many Career Spotlight programs that bring alumni back to campus to talk about their career paths; and many employers who come to campus to make presentations to students. I would strongly encourage students to come into the Center early in their college years to begin the conversation about life after graduation to allow enough time to learn about the many wonderful options that are available.

Prior to Georgetown, you served as executive director of various higher education committees for state agencies and non-profit organizations. What changes do you want to see happening to the current higher-educational system in America?

My primary concerns about higher education relate to access and opportunity for low-income students and students of color. In 1966 I was a first-generation college student from a low-income family who was fortunate to receive the benefits of the pioneering work done by civil rights activists and the U.S. government that brought passage and funding of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which allowed me to attend a wonderful school like Stanford University on a full scholarship. Total annual costs for tuition, room and board at that time were approximately $3,000. I completed undergraduate school with less than $2,000 of debt. While I know that was many years ago, I am not sure that a student today from a similar social and economic background would be able to attend a similar university without taking on an almost insurmountable debt. I would want any student who earns admission to a school like Georgetown or Stanford to be able to attend regardless of their financial circumstances. The program I directed in Rhode Island from 1989-1994, the Children’s Crusade for Higher Education, is devoted to helping those students and I applaud programs that continue such efforts.

In one sentence, what advice would you give to current GU students?

I would advise current students to take full advantage of the extraordinary opportunities that Georgetown University and Washington, DC provide for their intellectual, spiritual, social, physical and professional development because, if they work diligently in those aspects of their lives while they are in college, they will lay the foundation for rich and rewarding lives in the years ahead and will, hopefully, help a few other people and society as a whole along the way.

– Interview by Fred Lestina

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya