Serving the Hilltop, Now With a Salary
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 11:10
If you had told me a year ago that I would now be an administrator at Georgetown University, I probably would have laughed. As a former member of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and the 2012-2013 vice president of Georgetown University Student Association, let’s just say I was a bit of a rabble-rouser. Thus, it seemed unlikely that — unless I failed a class — I would be invited to stick around past my graduation date, much less get paid to do so.
But here I am, working as the administrator at Georgetown’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, a small center trying to tackle the big issue of economic injustice. Just try saying "Vail Kohnert-Yount from the Kalmanovitz Initiative" three times fast. When I try to explain my position, people generally stare blankly as they attempt to process the bizarre syllabic string I just barraged them with.
I’d have to say, however, that’s my only complaint as an employee. As many of my peers struggle to find meaning in their jobs — or to find a job at all — I feel deeply grateful for this opportunity to continue the work I loved as a student. Georgetown challenges us to be servants for the greater good, and it’s especially wonderful to keep serving and endeavoring to make both the Hilltop and the world beyond it a little more just.
Except now instead of paying Georgetown $50,000 per year for the privilege, they pay me, well ... not quite that much. And though I’m not making a fortune, working at Georgetown may be the best job I’ll ever land. This is awesome, I think, and then I wonder, does that mean life will be entirely downhill from here? I guess you’ll have to check back with me in a half century or so.
The point is that I encourage any Georgetown graduate to consider giving a year or few in service to our alma mater. I’ve found that even the perks they don’t include in the employee handbook, whose cover features a delightfully awkward photo of a well-coiffed woman doing yoga with Jack the Bulldog, are numerous.
First, the plentiful free food you enjoyed as a student is still available. Though I now receive a salary, I’m still not above pretending to be a freshman interested in your club to snag a free snow cone. Also, even if half-price Qdoba is now on Tuesday rather than Monday — the more things change, the more they stay the same — I appreciate it even more. A group of us young alumni who now work at Georgetown eat there every week. We call ourselves the "Q-team."
Second, Georgetown is committed to its employees’ educational advancement. In addition to free graduate school tuition, staff members can expect innumerable informal learning opportunities. For example, thanks to the mid-afternoon YouTube breaks enforced by my co-workers, who also happen to be fellow Georgetown grads, I am now an expert on the grooming habits of adorable otters.
Third, and you probably know this, but nowhere on earth has more solid human beings than Georgetown — and that includes its faculty and staff. You might already know how awesome the staff is at places like the Center for Student Engagement, the Georgetown Scholarship Program or Leo’s, but there are legions of unknown workers here who quietly perform small bureaucratic miracles that keep this place running.
Let me tell you truthfully that no Georgetown staff member is in this game for the money or the fame, except for probably Jack the Bulldog. Many go above and beyond the call of duty. As a brief example, I’d like to give a shout-out to Hoya Court employee Clyde for physically restraining me from freaking out when I found a spider in my hair last month.
That’s the magical thing about Georgetown: However many years you spend studying or working here, the people never cease to amaze you. And at the risk of being that awkward alum who never left and still hangs around campus all the time — I’m looking at you, President DeGioia — I think I’ll stick around for a while longer.
Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) is the administrator for the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.