Alumni Headline Student Networking Event with Pfizer
“Events such as this are crucial in giving our students a competitive edge in an increasingly challenging job market.”
Nearly 20 students, ranging from freshman to seniors, were in attendance on Thursday, December 8 when representatives from Pfizer’s nearby Andover campus traveled to Merrimack College to participate in a networking event organized by the O’Brien Center for Career Development. Of the five Pfizer employees in attendance, four are graduates of Merrimack: Kristen Eagleston ’91, Melanie Angelo ’97, Lauren Gomes ’03 and Sarah Wagner ’16. They were joined by colleague John Tucker, site leader.
“This was a great opportunity for our students to learn about careers in the pharmaceutical industry. Students were able to hear firsthand how current industry leaders forged their career path as well has their advice for aspiring researchers interested in breaking into the field,” said Dr. Jimmy Franco, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Events such as this are crucial in giving our students a competitive edge in an increasingly challenging job market.”
The event began with Tucker providing a brief overview of Pfizer’s focus with particular emphasis on the Andover location. Students were then given the opportunity to speak with three of the five representatives during three, 15-minutes speed networking sessions. The conversations varied in nature depending on each employee’s area of focus, but many touched on the applicability of undergraduate majors and minors, the varying roles within the field, and the importance of a strong culture within the workplace. The evening concluded with an informal networking opportunity, allowing students to further connect with the Pfizer employee in their specific area of interest.
“This was a fantastic event that brought together people in a variety of positions at Pfizer with Merrimack students exploring their career options,” said Charlotte Berkes, associate professor of biology. “Some of the students in attendance were seniors who have already decided to pursue careers in the pharma industry, and the contacts they made at this networking event are invaluable. Also in attendance were many freshmen who are just beginning to explore their career options; to have the opportunity to talk with Pfizer employees in a relatively low-stakes environment was a great experience for them.”
The Pfizer employees each encouraged Merrimack students to explore practical, hands-on internships; to take advantage of the numerous networking opportunities available at Merrimack; to rely on the advice of their upperclassmen peers; and to find employers who offer room for both personal and professional growth.
“I think it’s nice to reconnect and give back,” said Angelo. “It’s great meeting the young students and hearing what they are interested in and helping them focus on what they want to do. Being back at Merrimack has been a great experience.”
Also in attendance at the event were Dr. Alan Weatherwax, dean, school of science and engineering and Dr. Cynthia McGowan, senior vice provost for academic affairs and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Merrimack College’s relationship with Pfizer was initiated by Jack Pasini ’73, a 30-year veteran of the company who now serves on the College’s Board of Trustees, in 2013. This partnership serves as a successful model for future collaborations — and contributes to the College’s goal of developing distinctive learning opportunities for all students.
Pfizer’s Andover campus is a 70-acre site with 1,300 employees focusing on Pfizer’s WRD and Global Supply network.