Big Apple Break

(Photo by Duane Zehr)

January 8, 2018

By Matt Hawkins

Anitza Martins ’18 didn’t think she would last a semester when she moved from Texas to Peoria for college. Four years later, that once-nervous freshman will leave Bradley with a Big Apple-size adventure.

The suburban San Antonio native survived a rocky start on the Hilltop to find second home 1,000 miles away. She took advantage of opportunities to develop skills that eventually landed her a summer internship for IBM. She excelled and earned a job offer for IBM’s office near Union Square Park in Manhattan.

“Leaving home wasn’t easy, but it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” Martins said. “I came to Bradley a scared freshman who hadn’t seen snow. I’ll leave as a changed person excited for the future.”

Martins discovered Bradley online after taking her mother’s advice to look for colleges outside the Lone Star State. Academic programs with flexibility to double major, plus experiences like the NBC Olympics internship and Hollywood Semester enticed her to move north.

Homesickness made the first few weeks of school difficult, but Martins persisted. She found new friends through Greek life, student government and classes.

As classes progressed, her original dream of anchoring the “Today Show” shifted to a corporate communications and business focus. Through guidance from marketing instructor Brad Eskridge, she decided a double major in public relations and professional sales best fit her career hopes.

She also joined Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, a national organization that provides minority students career development and connections to major companies. SEO linked her to a 10-week IBM internship in New York City during the summer of 2017. The internship doubled as a job interview for a few permanent positions.

Martins enlisted Eskridge’s guidance to prepare for the internship and applauded his efforts to help her, even when that meant staying up late into the evening talking her through interview preparation.

“He genuinely cares about students and does anything to help them,” she said. “The way he supported and believed in me gave me confidence I could succeed. It’s huge having someone genuinely in my corner.”

Martins arrived in NYC nervous but determined to prove her worth in a group of interns mostly from elite East Coast universities. She became an asset to a digital marketing team as the only member with a sales and marketing communication background.

Martins excelled in the office while she adjusted to life as a stranger in the United States’ largest city. Though scary at first, she learned the city and hoped her career would someday wind through the Big Apple.

The wish came true, as Martins received a job offer before Labor Day.

“It was a battle to believe I belonged, so it was amazing to get the job,” she said. “I finally realized I did belong there. My education was just as good as anyone’s.”

Martins will start her career in July 2018 for IBM’s marketing and communication team working with third-party events such as the Super Bowl, U.S. Open and Tribeca Film Festival. This time, she welcomes the cross-country leap confident the past four years prepared her for success.

“I never thought I’d have a job before my senior year in New York City with an amazing company,” she said. “It’s a one in-a-million job, but Bradley prepared me for it because it pushed me out of my comfort zone so many times.”