Spotlight – Donna Jackson-Robertson, Seton Hall University
Associate Director, Seton Hall University
Donna received a BA from the University of Delaware and MPA from American University. She has been with Seton Hall for 6 years and in her current role 4 years.
What was your career path to get your current role? I was hired initially as the Senior Assistant Director at Seton Hall. Prior to Seton Hall, I held multiple positions with INROADS including Manager, Manager/Team Lead, National Accounts Manager and Strategic Accounts Manager. I began my academic career path as a Career Planning Coordinator at American University.
What was your first job? My first professional position after college was working in the public affairs office of a local non-profit.
Why did you choose this career? I completed my undergraduate degree in communication and public relations. I was also very interested in “saving the world” so I focused my job search on the non-profit and government sectors.
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? Building and sustaining relationships has been key. Whether it’s with students, faculty, employers or other administrators, developing a connection with people helps the Career Center to collaborate across a broad spectrum of audiences.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? I started my career in PR which required constant interaction with the media. I had to build credibility with them so that when I pitched a story, they would at least consider covering it. My work with the Career Center at American University and later INROADS also required extensive employer engagement. I continue to fine-tune it by broadening my network both on and off campus.
Did you have a mentor? I was fortunate to have many managers who also served in mentoring capacities. I learned to be more confident in my abilities and provided opportunities to grow.
Did you hold any EACE leadership roles? I’ve had the privilege of serving on several committees – Diversity, Membership and the Professional Exchange. The chance to work with colleagues from a variety of institutions and organizations has been a tremendous learning opportunity. I have been able to apply ideas and insights to my own organization which has certainly helped by career development.
What is your biggest career accomplishment? Like many in this field, helping students find their path and land their dream job or post graduate program is the best reward. After nearly 20 years, I am fortunate that I can say I’ve personally helped nearly a thousand students reach their goals. I am also still learning and developing so the biggest career accomplishment is yet to come!
What is your advice to students looking for their first job? Balance passion with practicality. I believe students should be sincerely interested and motivated to pursue their chosen fields. At the same time, the economic realities may require a more indirect approach. I encourage to consider every job as a learning opportunity that help them get to the next step. It’s the journey, not the destination that’s key.
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? Network, network, network! The degrees of separation between professionals in higher education are very small. Join organizations like EACE and volunteer to help out with events. They can start with their own alma mater. As alumni, they are a valuable resource to their home institutions. They can leverage that relationship into creating professional connections.
What was the best career advice you have ever received? Love your work! At least most of the time. You don’t have to be happy every single day but being miserable for 40 hours per week is not healthy.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization? I am very fortunate to work with an amazing group of people at Seton Hall. They are very professional and really care about our students. Our university has been ranked as having one of the top 5 internship programs by International Business Times. We have been collecting first destination outcomes for over a decade. Our data is highly respected and sought-after by the university’s leadership.