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Merrimack Alums & Friends Ready Graduate Students for Landing Jobs

May 07, 2013
Alums and experienced business managers hone students’ interview and networking skills with one-on-one coaching

Students are eager to practice their interviewing and networking skills with professionals.

            And the Executive Development II workshop offered those opportunities for 21 Master of Science in Management students early in their second semester.

            “I found this event to be very helpful. It gave us an opportunity to get some real-scenario interview experience with people other than our peers and faculty,” said Nicholas O’Brien ’12, a fifth-year business student concentrating in marketing. “There were people there who really conduct interviews for their jobs, so this gave us some real firsthand experience.”

            “I really feel that I got a lot out of this event. I had never done a formal interview before, so just getting that experience was helpful,” said Kelsey Mason ’12, a fifth-year student in management.

            Twelve Merrimack alumni and friends gathered to participate in the workshop that began with mock interviews. To practice and improve their interviewing skills, each student sat for two 20-minute interviews.

            Then students rotated around the room to meet people in a speed networking exercise. Two to three students joined two alumni or hiring managers at a table.

            The workshop ended with a social reception at the Merrimack Club, allowing students more time to meet alumni and make networking connections.

            Susan Pereira ’12 said she was nervous before the mock interviews.

            “I really enjoyed the coaching tips that the alums were able to give me. I truthfully wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and I am happy that we were actually made to do this,” said Pereira, a fifth-year student in management and a member service representative at CPCU Credit Union. “I enjoyed the one-on-one interviews. I know that most of the alums really enjoyed it. They were very helpful and hopefully are good future connections.”

            Jordan Jean ’12 has a job – as an office assistant at the Annis and Mulligan law firm – but she was glad to gain more experience in interviewing.

            The mock interviews “made me a little more comfortable with the whole process,” said Jean, who’s concentrating in management. “I also liked that all the people we met with gave us good advice about interviewing and about jobs that may be of interest to us.”

            Girard staff encouraged the students to use the questions they were asked as a prompt to expand on their experience and accomplishments in school. For instance, even if they had not managed people in a work setting, they could say how managing a school project team provides a similar experience.

            The alums concentrated on providing constructive criticism and tips for the students.

            “I thought the mock interviews and the feedback were very helpful and I was able to take away a number of useful pointers,” said Michael Patrick, a 2011 graduate of the University of Illinois and a bookkeeper at Lawrence Catholic Academy.

            Mason, who works part time at UMG Bulk Energy providing IT and administrative support in a virtual business environment, appreciated what the workshop provided: “My interviewer and the two alumni I networked with all gave me great advice about interviewing, networking, applying for jobs and my resume. I have since heard from one of the alumni, who is a recruiter, about a potential job opportunity.”

            Caitlin Nash ’03, a customer support supervisor at Curaspan Health Group, came back to Girard School for her master’s. She thought the workshop might have been aimed at recent graduates who need the first experience of interviewing.

            “To my surprise, I actually got more out of it than I thought. Practice is always good, and feedback and positive reinforcement are always a good boost to get,” said Nash. And, at the reception, “the food was delicious as well.”

            This workshop followed the Executive Development I session in fall semester that focused on job searching tools, in conjunction with the O’Brien Center for Student Success.

            “I would recommend that the Girard School make this a regular thing for both the graduates and the undergraduates,” said Alyssa Wertz ’12, a fifth-year management student. “We can only benefit from it.”


Job Interview Tips

            Krista Olsen, a Girard School instructor and the Business Internship Program coordinator, offers these tips for a job interview:

  • Learn about the employer and industry by researching the company before the interview.
  • Bring copies of your resume and cover letter, a pen and a professional notepad or folio for note taking.
  • Dress professionally and conservatively. Even if dress will be casual for the job, an interview is a professional meeting and a dark suit is appropriate.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early and know the name of the person you are to meet.
  • Offer a firm handshake, look the interviewer in the eye and display self-confidence.
  • Have questions prepared about the employer and position.
  • After the interview, send a thank-you note.


Executive Development II attendees

            These Merrimack College alumni and friends served as the interviewers:

  • Matthew Boyle ’88 – marketing
  • Shaun Davies – Jaffarian Automotive Group
  • Frank Ford ’64
  • Pat Lee – Horseshoe Grille owner
  • Hugh Mackenzie ’78  – HM Associates, principal, financial management
  • Paul McNulty ’77 – marketing 
  • Jarrod Pelletier ’05 – Putnam Investments
  • Bryan Perry ’01  – Crowe Paradis Services, data analyst
  • Linsey Pimentel ’07 – Talent Retriever
  • Jeffrey Rogers ‘06 - Feely & Driscoll, tax manager
  • Joseph Russo ’88  – Atlantic Charter Insurance Company
  • Justin St. Hilaire ’03 – Harvey Building Products


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  • Alum Joseph Russo '88 coaches graduate students Monique Gosselin and Sarah Stone
    Alum Joseph Russo '88 coaches graduate students Monique Gosselin and Sarah Stone

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