by Patrick Gordon

With an infectious laugh booming through the hallway, Darvin Martin exchanged pleasantries and sat down with a student majoring in philosophy to discuss the value of an internship.

"It's important, there's no doubt about it," Martin said, "Employers want to see that you've accomplished something outside the classroom."

Melded with the perfect combination of professionalism and affable swagger, Martin is the newest addition to the College of Liberal Arts's professional development team.

"To me, career work is soul work," he says. "People want to thrive, sure, but they also want to feel useful, productive and appreciated for the skills and products they contribute to the world. I like being able to help people find their success, or explore new career ideas. I think that feeling like you know your place in the world and understanding your skills, interests and strengths is an important part of our development into successful, fulfilled human beings."

Well-spoken and in-tune with the demands often put on college students, Martin employs a holistic coaching style that goes beyond the basic résumé critique. It's tough to argue with his results too, considering his appointments often morph from an ordinary résumé review into sessions of empowerment.

To me, career work is soul work.

"Once I started working with Darvin, all my nervousness dissipated," says Rebecca Winkler, a senior anthropology major gearing up for life after graduation. "He's given me a lot of helpful tips, like how to properly use LinkedIn and optimize my resume. He's also pointed me in the direction of a lot of really great resource avenues, allowing me to take advantage of some of the professional development resources Temple has that I didn't even know about before. He's really reassured me of my own professional capabilities."

Martin's own resume is impressive and includes stints with the Philadelphia Job Corps and Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation. He's worked with everyone — from high school students struggling to find their identity to seasoned professionals simply looking for tips on how to strengthen their LinkedIn profile.

"I’m always intrigued by how similar all of our concerns, challenges, stories and dreams are despite how different we may be as people," Martin says. "I’m also fascinated by how our professional and personal lives intersect and influence each other in subtle ways that we often don’t even recognize until later in life.

"While a student is working to succeed academically, they should also be thinking about what they want their life to look and feel like after graduation. For most of us, careers don’t just get dropped in our laps after we get handed a degree. There’s a lot of work, self-reflection and relationship-building that has to take place. If a student starts early, they can graduate having the confidence that they’re ready to step into a professional life that’s going to be fulfilling. It’s about small changes, and using the 80/20 rule: if students can just put 20 percent of their energy into their professional development every week, they will reap 80 percent of the rewards later on."

A writer in his spare time, Martin has a passion for building and creating. Already a published author of short stories, he recently inked a contract with Design Mechanism to develop a fantasy roleplaying game involving a noble, an evil cult leader and a panthotaur — a fictional creature with the head of a predatory cat and the body of a strong human.

"That's what I enjoy doing," Martin says with a chuckle. "It's geeky Dungeons & Dragons-type of stuff, but I love it."

It’s about small changes, and using the 80/20 rule: if students can just put 20 percent of their energy into their professional development every week, they will reap 80 percent of the rewards later on.

Martin's interest in gaming though isn't limited to just roleplaying. He incorporates a gamification mindset to his style of teaching in CLA 1002 — Professional Development for Liberal Arts Majors.

"It makes things fun and interesting, and taps into our natural tendency to want competition and rewards for progress," he says. "There are some dynamic ways that career counselors and educators can gamify professional development so that it’s not boring and routine: team competitions, leaderboards and small rewards for excellence are just a few of the ways professional development programs can be gamified to increase engagement and success. Finding ways to entertain, educate and energize students in the classroom has always been a challenge for educators; gamification is one of the best ways I’ve found to accomplish all of those things and more."

Martin's best piece of career advice to liberal arts students?

"Take risks. Experiment with your career, consider it an adventure, and never stop using every experience and opportunity as a learning experience that moves you forward."

(To schedule an appointment with Darvin, or any member of Liberal Arts Professional Development team, contact us at 215-204-7971).

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