#IncomingElliott: Hank Robinson


#IE H Robinson

Hank Robinson will be a first-year Masters’s candidate in the Asian Studies program at the Elliott School of International Affairs this spring. Prior to attending the Elliott School, he received a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Georgia in 2012, where he was a lightweight rower. He also received a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2016 and practiced securities law at a law firm in New York City. His interests are Sino-American relations, Taiwan, and how the former impacts the latter. Hank enjoys film, video games, trivia, and was once a Jeopardy! Teen Tournament semi-finalist.

What has been your most rewarding academic experience so far?

In my second year of law school, I took a class called Comparative Venture Capital Law—China. The class had a field study component where we spent one week in Beijing. From the second we landed, we were fortunate—the skies were completely clear—apparently, the government ordered a temporary reduction in factory output. Our first full day there, we met with regulators from the China Securities Regulatory Commission. We toured Baidu headquarters; had dinner with Charles Chan, one of the co-founders of Tencent; and met with Tencent’s general counsel, who is an alumnus of my law school. We had a lively discussion with officials from the U.S. Embassy about Sino-American relations and we visited Chinese law firms that do a lot of work in the venture capital space.  In addition to the above, we also visited the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall (where we took the toboggan down the wall, naturally), went to performances, and even had the time to “get lost” in Beijing and wander through the hutongs. All-in-all, it was a fantastic week, especially considering that it was my first time in China.

What made you interested in your MA program of choice?

After law school, I started working at a large law firm in New York City. As time went on, I grew increasingly dissatisfied with the type of work I was doing. As I was trying to figure out my next steps, I started thinking about what I enjoyed doing in undergrad and what I did in my spare time. I studied history in undergrad, focusing primarily on Asian history, and additionally, I took every class related to China that fit in my schedule. I recalled a time when I told my Chinese teacher that I wanted to be a sinologist—somewhere along my life path, I lost my way. After law school, I told myself that I would never go to school again—but as I began looking for opportunities in the space of China & Taiwan studies, I realized that a master’s degree would be invaluable. The Elliott School’s M.A. in Asian Studies would allow me to gain qualitative and quantitative skills to be truly successful in the field.

What would be your dream job after completing your program?

I used to think of my dream job as a certain title or position. However, as I’ve been learning more and more about the different aspects of international affairs, I’ve realized that there’s really a whole world of possibilities out there that I had never even considered! The path of a corporate lawyer is relatively straight-forward, comparatively. Honestly, the wide range of career opportunities coming out of the Elliott School is super exciting. Now, for me, instead of thinking about a certain position as a dream job, I think that a dream job for me would be any job that allowed me to analyze problems related to Sino-American relations and/or the cross-strait relationship between Taiwan and the mainland.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Several people have said that I look like Arjay Smith, of The Day After Tomorrow fame, though I don’t really see it. Honestly, I’d probably pick Michael B. Jordan, because Creed is one of my favorite movies, and it would mean that the film version of me would be mad good-looking.

The #IncomingElliott series highlights incoming Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective and current students. The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. Find out more about this program by creating a CustomViewbook!

For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.