Bob Martin: The Internship Guru Of The College Of Comm
Chances are if you ask any Penn State student aspiring to work in journalism, public relations, or advertising, they’re well aware of the impact Bob Martin has in the College of Communications and beyond. And if you haven’t, you’ve surely seen him in your inbox.
“I try to motivate the students,” said Martin, the Assistant Dean for Internships and Career Placement. “But you don’t want them to be fearful. I try to make it personal with kids because I know that’s what I would have wanted.”
Before his self-described role as a “connecter” for students, Martin graduated from Penn State in 1987 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. He had hopes of becoming the next Bob Costas, but after putting a demo tape together and hearing nothing back, Martin changed his original plan and took a job as a stockbroker.
“Within months I thought, ‘What am I doing?’” Martin said. “What drove me away from broadcasting? One word: Fear. I got scared.”
Martin soon left his job as a stockbroker and took an unpaid job at a small radio station in the Philadelphia area where he hosted his own show on Tuesday mornings. Despite struggling on-air at first, Martin gradually improved and become more comfortable. He landed his first paid gig at a radio station in Central Pennsylvania a year later, where he worked his way up through the company, transitioning from an on-air host to an account executive, eventually becoming the general manager of Citadel Communications Corporation. Martin also began to teach at Penn State while at Citadel.
“I started teaching part-time while I was general manager of the station and I loved it,” Martin said. “I just got a taste for working with students and I watched how excited they were and that inspired me.”
After a couple of years as a lecturer, Martin was offered a position as an assistant dean to start up the Internship and Career Placement program by Associate Dean Robert Richards. The program helps College of Communications students find internships, build connections, and strengthen resumes to work in whatever field they are interested in.
Martin was one of the central architects of the Office of Internships and Career Placement. Turning an idea in 1999 to now hosting 138 recruiters from 70 companies at JobExpo.Comm’s career fair in the HUB on March 18, the office is now an invaluable resource for the students. While he knew he would enjoy the role, he never expected to have the job 16 years later.
“I made a commitment to this place,” Martin said. “I said I’d at least give it two years and see what happens. See if I could get this thing off the ground and then hand it over to somebody else. But it just kept rolling…I didn’t realize how passionate I’d be about it. I thought this was going to be a stopgap job. I was already looking into jobs in New York — had interviews with Comedy Central and MTV and came close to jumping onboard with them, but my wife talked me out of it. Here I am 16 years later, and I think I have the greatest job in the world.”
Of course, he’s not alone in working with more than 2,600 students. Julie Miller works as the Manager of Internships, while Stephanie Girouard works as a Staff Assistant. Together, the three-person staff looks to continue the progress they have made since the program’s inception.
“It just keeps growing,” Martin said. “Our responsibilities keep growing and our successes keep growing. We’re always trying to think of the next big thing that we can do…We have a lot of fun. A lot of success stories, but we’re not perfect, and we know that. But we always try to stay ahead of our competition.”
For a career that has had a number of twists and turns, Martin is happy at Penn State helping students reach their goals.
“You watch somebody grow professionally,” Martin said. “And they say things like, ‘Wow, you changed my life.’ I think I have the most gratifying job in the world.”