Student Success Stories

At the Career Center we help our students achieve career success and we've got some great stories to prove it.

Sylvia Otieno, International Studies major and a Business, Communication and the Liberal Arts minor

TU student Sylvia Otieno standing holding a book to read elementary students

A student’s main goal is to be successful in the field of their dreams. Towson University senior, Sylvia Otieno, recently did just that. Sylvia, majoring in International Studies with a minor in Business Communication and the Liberal Arts, was able to take her first steps toward her aspirations of becoming a nonprofit professional over this past summer when she was accepted as a fellow in the Walter Sondheim Nonprofit Leadership Program (MSNLP).

“When I heard of the program, I was immediately drawn to it because I’ve always wanted to do nonprofit work,” said Sylvia of the opportunity.

Sylvia was one of 20 students chosen for the fellowship, which had only a 25 percent acceptance rate. “The application process for the fellowship did not hold any interviews, so it was really important to look good on paper. I had several people help me with my resume and answers to the questions they asked.”

In each case, the fellow was placed into a nonprofit program while given the opportunity to attend seminars on creating and running successful nonprofits. Sylvia was placed into the Summer READS program, an initiative to open libraries throughout Baltimore City during the summer to kids of varying ages to help improve literacy rates. “I learned how to run a nonprofit, not just volunteer for it,” said Sylvia. “It gave me realistic expectations of being a part of a nonprofit. The work done behind the scenes may not be shiny and fun, but it is important.”

Sylvia has big plans after leaving Towson. “I’m currently applying for the Fulbright grant to conduct a research project in Kenya.” She will also be looking to intern at an international nonprofit organization.

When asked what advice she would give to other students looking to break into their dream field, Sylvia revealed an age-old secret. “Use your networks. You can have a great resume, but it won’t set you apart from everyone else with great resumes. It’s all about who you know.” she exclaimed.

Learn more about the Walter Sondheim Nonprofit Leadership Program (MSNLP).

Allison Kerr, Business Administration Major with a Concentration in Marketing

One of the best ways to gain perspective on a desired career path or industry is through internships. Internships are always encouraged because of their ability to provide students with real-world experience, the networking opportunities they provide from colleagues, and their ability to give insight on what a student wants to do or, sometimes more importantly, not do in their future.

TU senior Allison Kerr was able to learn a lot through her three internships, each with their own special contribution to her experience. Allison took the initiative to begin her internship experience early on by becoming a marketing intern for Mystic Aquarium in her hometown of Mystic, Connecticut.

“This experience really helped me begin to develop my passion for working for nonprofit organizations,” said Allison of her first internship. “I really felt like the work that I was doing here was important and helped to further the organization’s mission and vision.”

After being set on the path to work for a nonprofit organization, Allison set her goals on gaining as much knowledge as she could. During her junior year, Allison learned of the Walter Sondheim Leadership Nonprofit program (WSLNP), became a fellow of the program and was placed at the South Baltimore Learning Center (SBLC), an adult literacy center that assisted adults in obtaining their GEDs in hopes of giving students opportunity for higher education and job opportunity.

In this fellowship, Allison was able to learn about the mechanics of a nonprofit organization while expanding her knowledge in the field of marketing. “It was a perfect match because while I was hired to learn the nonprofit side of things, the organization needed me to focus more on marketing, which was right up my alley,” said Allison. “I was treated as an equal and valuable employee – not just an ‘intern’ – and was given my own projects and responsibilities to manage.”

After her fellowship with WSNLP concluded, Allison found herself being more sought-out because of her experience gained from her two previous internships. Allison was able to choose a prestigious marketing internship at Johns Hopkins Medical with duties that include marketing research, large-scale event planning, and collateral marketing material.

“This is a different environment from SBLC in terms of size and the duties I am assigned to do, but each internship has its own value,” she said.

Allison has managed to be successful while working for organizations that align with her own values and beliefs. Through each of her experiences, Allison was able to expand on her industry knowledge and develop her personal career path. When asked what the best advice she could give to her fellow students trying to do the same, Allison had one major piece of advice.

“Try to gain as much experience as you can,” she said with fervor. “Whether it’s through internships, working on-campus, or even just talking to people that you know in the field that you’re interested in, it all helps!”