Class of 2018 Professional Development Retreat wraps up after successful two-day event
More than 60 members of Merrimack College’s Class of 2018 recently wrapped up a two-day retreat focused on developing and polishing professional networking skills.
The Professional Development Retreat, first offered in the spring of 2016 and now designed as a biannual event for juniors and seniors, was held in Boston’s flourishing Seaport district. During the two-day event, attendees heard from distinguished speakers, participated in interactive learning sessions, and perhaps most important, were engaged in numerous opportunities to put their networking and public speaking skills to the test with alumni and other attendees on hand. After two successful retreats (spring 2016 and fall 2016) held for soon-to-be graduates, this was the first event designed specifically for members of the junior class.
In addition to career advisors from the O’Brien Center for Career Development, and representatives from the College Leadership Council and Board of Trustees, 10 additional campus partners served as small group facilitators, including Marie Doyle ’78, manager of parent programs; Peter Ellard, dean of student success and academic support; Dr. Jimmy Franco, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry; Allison Gill, associate vice president for student affairs/dean of students; Tricia Williamson Pineda, associate vice president for program development and retention; Allison Pukala ’06, associate dean of students for student engagement; Maureen Sakakeeny, director of science and engineering programs; Pat Sendell, special assistant to the president and chief international officer; Stephanie Sullivan ’11, program manager of graduate and professional studies; and Jake Turner, associate professor and chair, department of communications. The inclusion of a larger network of administrators, faculty and staff was a change praised by both the Retreat organizers and the partners and aligns with the College’s mission to develop a strategy to enhance student career preparation, experiential learning opportunities and job placements upon graduation.
“For so long professors have seen their jobs as to be in the classroom teaching and to be doing research,” Turner reflected. “But now, more than ever, it is so important that we are stepping outside of the classroom, collaborating with our partners on campus, and helping to prepare students for their career path. Our participation in events like this is so important in helping to do that. I just had a student come up and ask me for a business card. And now the door is open. I am able to give something to him, and hopefully in return, he will be able to give something back to me. It’s about creating that network.”
Robert (Bob) Zatta ’71 served as this year’s keynote speaker. Zatta, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, is the Director of Innophos Holdings, Inc. He was previously a longtime Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Rockwood Holdings, Inc. and also held significant financial positions with Campbell Soup Company, General Foods Corporation and Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.
“I’d like to suggest to you that there’s an alternative way to thinking about the future you’re about to create, especially when thinking about success in life,” Zatta began, before he used his story from childhood to present day to highlight the importance of mentors, leadership, and honesty and integrity. “Remember, some concepts, some truths, are never changing, and being honest, and acting ethically and being trustworthy are, in my opinion, at the top of the list of things you want your career and your life to be based on,” he impressed upon the students.
Other speakers and sessions included:
- A welcome from Anthony Preston ’16, a participant in the spring 2016 retreat
- Understanding & Communicating Your Strengths – using Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0
- Learning from Experience: An Alumni Panel moderated by David Morgan ’92, president, information technology and engineering at Addison Group and featuring MaryRose Mazzola ’12, executive director, Boston Women’s Workforce Council; Tara Bartley ’12, senior program manager, Harvard University; Allison Farrell ’02, founder, Insight Educational Consulting; Michael Rando ’12, legal associate, Citizens Disability; and Cameron Bellao ’06, associate/lead electrical project engineer
- Team Problem Solving, an engaging puzzle-driven activity that focused on communication, leadership, negotiation and collaboration
- The Art of Networking activity, a Networking Reception hosted by President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D., and an Etiquette Dinner
- An Industry Networking Breakfast with Merrimack College alumni
- Telling Your Story – a deep dive into developing individual elevator pitches
The winter 2017 Professional Development Retreat was sponsored by Advocator Group, Huron, ProCon, Patriot Energy Group, State Street Foundation, the James W. O’Brien Foundation, Karen Cambray ’88 and John W. Piekos, Jr., Dennis ’77 and Norma Leonard, Michael ’80 and Maura ’82 Shunney and Robert ’71 and Kathleen Zatta.
The Professional Development Retreat is a collaboration between the Office of the President and the O’Brien Center for Career Development.
To view photos from the event, click here.
ContactO’Brien Center for Career Development