April 2015 Member Spotlight - Mary Beth Snell

1.       Why have you chosen to join and stay involved in OCDA?

I am originally from Philadelphia and I moved to Portland in 2007, leaving the majority of my contacts. I was in the process of making a career transition and I knew it would be important to find a strong network of professionals in the area. After joining a variety of professional associations and attending a few events, I found that really valued the time I spent with OCDA. The scope and quality of the events, from the annual PDI to the Industry Tours, help me to stay current in the field. In addition, I have been able to find a phenomenal network of people to go to for ideas and advice.


2.       What do you most enjoy about career development work?

The variety – I love that every day and every client are different! I really appreciate having clients tell me their stories and working with them to identify their interests and skills, as well as how that information can translate to their majors and careers. I like to say that the best part of my job is helping clients to figure out what they want to be when they grow up, knowing that the question and answer are constantly evolving. It’s really gratifying when clients figure out that career development is an ongoing process, that it is okay to change their minds, and that not having all of the answers right now isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve worked in higher education throughout my career and I enjoy seeing students grow throughout their time on campus. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a young alumna to return to campus to sit on a networking panel. I was so impressed to hear her talk about how her career has not gone exactly as planned, but that she has been able to find success by building on previous experiences and utilizing her network.  


3.       Tell us about your organization and practice.

I am a career counselor in Career Services at the University of Portland, an independent, four-year Catholic institution affiliated with the Congregation of Holy Cross. Career Services is a centralized office and serves a student body of about 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences, the Pamplin School of Business, the School of Education, the Shiley School of Engineering, and the School of Nursing. There are five full-time professional staff members in Career Services, including the Director, Internship & Engagement Manager, Career Counselor, Career & Program Advisor and Program Assistant.

I spend a lot of time meeting individually with clients, working with students and alumni on their academic and career plans, and presenting to various groups on campus. I was a first-generation college student, as well as a student-athlete, so I make it a point to reach out to those populations by partnering with the Athletic Department and the First Generation Student Committee to plan events that expose students to targeted resources. And I majored in marketing as an undergrad, so I have always enjoyed incorporating those concepts into my role in Career Services. As a social media enthusiast, I supervise our marketing and social media student staff, helping to manage our online presence and social media efforts.  

4.       If you had to pick a favorite tool or resource you use regularly in your work, what would it be?

I can’t pick just one, but I use the LinkedIn Alumni page and the Occupational Outlook Handbook on a daily basis. In working with college students and alumni, I find it’s essential to be able to show them resources for exploring options and researching occupations on their own, while helping them to build relationships with the greater UP community. And LinkedIn has been very useful in identifying alumni to invite to events.    


5.       What is one thing most people might not know about you?

I love sports! I played basketball in college and, prior to moving to Portland, I was an assistant college basketball coach at Villanova for six years. It was working with student-athletes at Villanova that led me to consider counseling as a career. My athletic endeavors now consist of chasing around my almost three year old and playing on a coed summer softball team, but my team has won the league championship three of the last four years.     


Oregon Career Development Association

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