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‘Dream job’ empowers Oregon State grad to make an instant impact

Aerial photo of Portland, Oregon, overlooking the Willamette River, bridges and buildings.

Changing careers and working with a career advisor led natural resources alumna to achieve her goals

Editor’s note: A version of this story was originally published on the Horizons blog by Oregon State’s Career Development Center.

By Jennifer Rouse

Marty Marrs knew she had more to offer.

Oregon State University helped her find it.

When Marrs started thinking about changing careers, she knew one thing: This time, she wanted to do something that mattered to her.

Marrs graduated from Oregon State after earning a B.S. in Natural Resources online through OSU Ecampus. Prior to that, she spent 18 years raising a family, which she loved, and also working in administrative jobs, which she wasn’t as passionate about.

“I just knew I had so much more to offer, and so much more to give,” she said.

That’s where Oregon State came in.

A web search led Marrs, who was living in Georgia, to OSU Ecampus, where programs offered by the College of Forestry caught her eye. But she wasn’t sure how to turn an interest in the natural world into an actual career. A combination of resources helped her connect the dots.

Headshot of Marty Marrs, Oregon State University graduate

Marty Marrs is an impact assessment scientist who examines how humans interact with natural resources.

“I was not your typical student,” Marrs said. “I was making a complete career change, and I was also coming off of 18 years of staying at home with my kids. There is a lot of value and wisdom that comes with that, but I didn’t know how to show that value.”

So Marrs made an appointment with Britt Hoskins, the career advisor for students in the College of Forestry.

“Britt helped me completely redesign my résumé,” Marrs said. “She took the time to talk to me, to find out where I did have experience, and she taught me how to put that in a résumé form. She showed me how to incorporate my OSU classes, and the projects I did in my classes, to build up my résumé.”

Meanwhile, Marrs continued to take a full load of classes online through OSU Ecampus and also moved cross-country from Georgia to Oregon, to be closer to her daughter and closer to more companies in the environmental consulting field.

Zeroing in on a new career

As graduation approached, Marrs began to zero in on jobs and companies she was interested in. When she saw a position open up with Environmental Resources Management, a sustainability consultancy in Portland, Oregon, she was interested but apprehensive.

“I had that typical concern, where I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t check all the boxes for all the qualifications, so I don’t know if this is going to work.’ But I applied anyway,” she said.

She also scoured LinkedIn for potential connections at ERM, and found one — an acquaintance she’d made through mountain biking who was happy to chat with her about working at the company.

Putting knowledge to work out in the world

Marrs went through two rounds of interviews with the company. Even with all the networking, research, and preparation she’d done, graduation was looming and Marrs still wasn’t sure whether she would land the job — until she got the news she’d been dreaming of.

“Oh my gosh!” Marrs said. “I followed Britt’s steps, I did everything she said to do, and I got a job offer four weeks before graduating!”

Marrs now works in what she describes as her “dream job” — a position that makes a difference. She’s an impact assessment scientist with ERM, studying the ways that natural resources and human dimensions intersect in the environment.

“I love being able to play a role in keeping natural resources available and safe for everyone. That was my goal and drive for going back to school.”

She’s part of a team that creates a variety of resource reports for clients within the oil and gas sector. The work involves coding and sorting public comments made to the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Energy Resource Commission. This enables Marrs to help “make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and comments are addressed.”

She also works with a stormwater runoff team that conducts on-site inspections to look for pollutants that could possibly contaminate Portland’s waters. In this role, she helps ensure that communities in industrial locations have access to safe water. More recently, she began a project related to a new solar farm.

It’s the multifaceted work Marrs was meant to do in this new phase of her career. Even though it suits her well, she says “there are still obstacles to maneuver and learn.” But true to her nature, she embraces the job’s challenges, especially because so much is at stake.

“I love being able to play a role in keeping natural resources available and safe for everyone. That was my goal and drive for going back to school,” Marrs said. “My work allows that goal to be reached.

“And OSU Ecampus gave me access to the knowledge I needed to pursue my passion and goals of making an impact on human dimensions within our natural resources.”

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