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Faculty Focus: Bob Martin

by on October 10, 2012 6:00 AM

The Faculty Focus feature is a new, weekly question-and-answer spotlight on the administrators, instructors and all Penn State employees who keep the university running. 

It its inaugural week, reporter Laura Nichols sat down with Bob Martin, Assistant Dean for the College of Communications Internship and Career Placement Program. He's not only a Penn State alumnus but the man to go to when it's time to start the internship or career search. 

Below is a an excerpt of Martin's interview, and the

Tell me a little bit about yourself. How long have you been working at Penn State? What led you here?

"I started here at Penn State in 1989. I'm a graduate of the College of Communications from 1987 with a degree in journalism.

"I came bck to the college because I was teaching, actually, part time in '98 and '99 and really enjoyed working with students, [I] was working as a general manger of four radio stations at that point and had the opportunity to come on full-time, and the career and internship placement side of our college was missing when I was a student and I really felt there was an opportunity here to make some great gains for our college and help students.

"And I really enjoyed working with students so I really thought this would be a perfect fit for me in making a big difference in lives of our students."

So what is your official role now? 

"I am Assistant Dean for the College of Communications Internship and Career Placement Program. Started off as the Director of Internships and Careers in 1999 and we've really had some great gains here in the college in terms of careers and internships.

"One of the things I really wanted to focus on was not only developing that progression of not only having our students do one internship during their college career, but i'm proud to say a lot of our students are now doing multiple internships and really refining what they want to do, so by the time they get out of here with that diploma in hand they really have a good clear vision of where they're going with their career. 

"We've really focused on taking it to the next level as well by providing career opportunities for our students. Something we're really proud of is that we have not one, but two job fairs for our students at the College of Communications. These aren't on the coattails of the university's career initiatives or career placement programs, which are incredibly important for all of our students in the entire Penn State system. 

"But these two job fairs are specifically for College of Communications students. They occur every spring semester in March and April."

OK, so is there a general piece of information that you impart upon students coming up looking for jobs, looking for internships, or does it vary based on their needs? 

"It definitely varies by the needs of each student. Some students get it. They want to be involved in internships at a very early time in their college career.

"We have students doing internships by the end of their freshman year, and the approach we really recommend to our students is getting involved on campus as early as possible with things that are relevant to them and relate to their career interests.

"So if they're interested in becoming a print journalist, get involved with The Daily Collegian. If they're interested in radio, get involved with ComRadio. If they're interested in TV, get involved with PSN-TV.

"These are really, we believe, the opportunities they can get here at penn state that are really value-added to their college career and really aren't of any charge to them other than the time and effort they put into those on-campus student media opportunities. And they are a perfect transition into internships.

"Now you've got something to speak about when going to those internship interviews and you can provide some substance to those interviews about what you're learning at those on-campus media outlets."

Bob, what have you learned about yourself working at Penn State and working with students?

"What have I learned about myself? Oh, boy. This job keeps me young. That's the one thing, for sure, it does. I've gotta keep myself current with what's going on in the industry at all times because students' needs change, day in and day out and everyday is different here. 

"I deal with different challenges and different challenges and different interests from students everyday so I've got to keep myself current withwhat's going on in the media world but I've learned that I've got to keep students motivated and the best way to do that is to show them a natural progression of what happens here. 

"I always say to our students, 'It's not a hundred-yard dash to your career, it's a journey, and enjoy that ride.' And I try to embody that philosophy as well." 

What makes you 'Penn State Proud?'

"I think the thing that really makes me most proud is that our students get it. They truly understand what it means to be successful. You can't rest on your laurels and you've got to keep striving to be the very best. That's not only in the classroom but that's in these internships and on-campus experiences and that's truly what's going to make our students marketable and well-prepared when they get out of here, by doing those things effectively. 

"I think that's what I'm most proud of, we've taken this program from a fledgling internship program and have the majority of our students doing at least one internship if not multiple internships throughout their college career, making themselves marketable by the time they get that diploma in hand."


Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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