Photos By: Robb Frederick
Jeremiah Hassel, Features Editor
In the realm of professional careers, Penn State Behrend alumni can be found in almost every nook and cranny of the world. Some have made their way to business positions in China, while others have chosen to stay local, working in the engineering districts in Erie. Some made their way back to their alma mater to pursue careers at the collegiate level, most landing at Behrend after pursuing careers in their field of choice before using their experience to aid others.
Robb Frederick, the assistant director for news and information within the department of strategic communications here at Behrend, held several intense positions at various media outlets before finally settling into his current career.
Frederick’s impressive journey began right here at Behrend, where he majored in marketing for a couple of years before switching to pursue a major in communication and graduating in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in the field.
Around sophomore year, Frederick began writing for what was then known as the Collegian, the school newspaper that has since been renamed the Behrend Beacon. At the end of that year, Frederick became an orientation leader for the campus, providing incoming students with aid as they moved in on Move-in Day and began their new lives as Behrend students.
“The experience at the Collegian, it pretty much started my career… It allowed me to see a possibility that I hadn’t seen before and I wouldn’t be here today had I not done that, had I not taken that path,” said Frederick.
After graduating from Behrend, Frederick pursued higher education at Northwestern University, graduating a year later in 1993 with a master’s in journalism. During his time earning both of his degrees, Frederick was able to intern at the Erie Times News, an experience that would later land him a job writing for the same media outlet.
From there, Frederick’s career only lengthened, beginning at a small news bureau in Union County, Pennsylvania, where he worked as the sole reporter for two years before accepting a promotion within the company, moving to D.C. to work for Ottaway News Service, a company no longer in business today. He worked there for two years before pursuing careers at three newspapers in Pennsylvania and one in the state of Kentucky, where he served as the publications’ Washington correspondent.
“It was a terrific experience. I was young. I was in the capital. It allowed me to get into the White House, to see arguments in the Supreme Court. It was a good opportunity. It was a lot of fun,” said Frederick.
However, Frederick began to question his career path when he was laid off after working those jobs for two years. “That was my first taste of what the business of news was becoming,” said Frederick. “That was my first experience [thinking], ‘this could be a difficult long-term path.’”
Despite the instability Frederick faced in his career, he decided to continue on his chosen path, landing a career at the Pittsburgh Tribune for six to seven years, then, after leaving his job there, at the Erie Times News for another nine years with the help of the connections he made during his internship.
“[My career] taught me a lot about how to interact with people, how to be civil with people, how to not… make a bad situation worse,” said Frederick.
It was only after having children that the instability and cutthroat competitiveness of the field began to lose its appeal for Frederick. Leaving the Erie Times, Frederick was able to land his current job at Behrend, working as the assistant director for news and information within the department of strategic communications.
Looking forward, Frederick hopes to maintain his current career at Behrend, believing his position to be much more rewarding than his previous careers in media outlets, though he believes himself to be better in those roles. “It’s opened a different skill set. It’s encouraged me to work in very different ways,” said Frederick.
Frederick attributes the majority of his success to becoming involved in the Collegian during his time here at Behrend and encourages students to get as involved as possible on campus. He emphasizes the importance of creating a portfolio and taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
“Any of those experiences enrich you. I think the bad ones, or the experiences that don’t quite pan out the way you hope they would are beneficial because they maybe steer you away from something. I think there’s value in trying something and seeing that it’s not your thing and moving on to something else,” said Frederick.
Frederick currently lives with his wife and two sons and works in an office in the Glenhill Farmhouse on the Behrend campus. “I believe in the place. I really believe in this place… I wouldn’t be happy in a communications role at a place I don’t buy in on,” said Frederick.