In her new role as director of Baker University Career Services, Ashley (Snedeger) Kretzschmer, ’10, feels like her Baker experience has come full circle.
As a Baker student, Kretzschmer switched majors from English to psychology. Leading Career Services, she now gets to work with students to find the right career path for them—even if it means changing majors like she did.
“I spend a lot of time now normalizing the act of changing majors and panicking,” she said. “When I switched my major and went to Harlaxton, it forced me to take an extra semester because of the scheduling, and I cried in my advisor’s office. I love helping students come up with a plan, then change the plan, and change it all again. I love helping people start new endeavors, reinvent themselves, and cheer them on.”
The Small Community
Kretzschmer grew up in Baldwin City, which heavily influenced her decision to come to Baker and to return to work at Baker.
“Initially, I wanted to go far away,” she said. “But the further I got into my senior year, the more I preferred the familiar setting, and I love the beauty of this campus, the long history, the small community. It was just more my style when it came down to it—and still is.”
Kretzschmer was part of Alpha Chi Omega, served as chief copy editor for The Baker Orange, studied abroad at Harlaxton College, and did work study in the Student Services Office in the library. When she switched her major to psychology, she got involved with Psi Chi. She attended graduate school at Appalachian State University in North Carolina for clinical mental health counseling with an emphasis in expressive arts therapy.
“Baker prepared me so well for graduate school that I had it very easy in all of the classes where the subject matter overlapped with the classes I took at Baker,” she said. “I spent most of graduate school learning the art and practice of counseling because I already had the knowledge base for the rest.”
Kretzschmer said her Harlaxton experience gave her the courage to finally live outside of Kansas. “I lived in Boone, North Carolina, for five years going to graduate school and earning my clinical licensure, and then Louisville, Kentucky, for five years working as a mental health counselor at a high school.”
Practice What I Teach
It was while working at a high school that Kretzschmer discovered her passion for career services.
“School counseling never interested me, and when I worked in mental health at a high school, the school counselors’ roles still didn’t interest me—except for the college and career preparation part,” she said. “About five years into counseling, I realized that was the area of counseling I was truly passionate about.”
Kretzschmer moved back to Baldwin City and worked as a career coach at Johnson County Community College and then briefly at the University of Kansas.
“When the Baker position opened up, I was beyond thrilled,” she said. “Being in Career Services at my alma mater is a huge advantage because when I teach networking—which is my favorite—my ability to actually practice what I teach is immediately applicable to Baker students.”
One of the main overarching goals of her position is to prepare students for professional life beyond Baker.
“I take that very seriously,” Kretzschmer said. “I want students to leave Baker with work and internship experiences that look great on a resume—and a resume that looks great, too. I want Baker students to explore different fields and majors before they choose one and to know how to do career research and job searches. I want students to learn how to have a great interview and know what to wear—and actually have something professional to wear.”
To help ensure students have professional attire for interviews, Kretzschmer started a Career Closet through a clothing drive less than a month after she began her new role in November. The initiative was an opportunity for Career Services to work with alumni.
“We’re super excited about new opportunities to partner with Career Services,” Director of Alumni Relations Doug Barth, ’91, said. “We helped push the Career Closet information out to alumni through our social media platforms. Anytime the Alumni Office can collaborate with Career Services on career networking between our students and our alumni, it benefits Baker University.”
Kretzschmer said more than 100 clothing items have been donated to the Career Closet, many coming from alumni. But that’s not the only way she hopes to get alumni involved.
“Alumni networks are natural partners to Career Services because so often alumni reach out to Career Services to create opportunities for internships,” she said. “They’re also a built-in resource for students to learn networking and connect their college experience with life post-graduation. I’ll be tabling at alumni events this spring to start discussing ideas and events alumni might be interested in. In the fall, I’ll have alumni attend our Majors Fair and represent their major—and be able to talk to students about how choosing their major led them to their career now.”
Kretzschmer plans to teach workshops on how students can use LinkedIn and other social networks to create job opportunities.
“LinkedIn is a powerhouse for teaching students how to develop a personal brand for their professional life,” she said. “I would love to do a career-related interterm. One for underclassmen focused on job shadowing and getting hands-on career exploration, and another for upperclassmen—a crash course on preparing them to be a professional, including branding, networking, and taking their resume and interviewing to the next level.”
Kretzschmer serves on the Board of Directors for the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce and is looking forward to building more partnerships in Baldwin City.
“As someone from Baldwin who went to Baker, I will always seek to bring the two together,” she said. “The town and the university are great resources for one another, and I love them both.”
Written by Jenalea Myers, ’08