Juniors Hone Networking, Public-Speaking Skills

More than 60 Merrimack juniors recently attended a two-day retreat in Boston focused on developing and polishing their professional-networking skills.

Attendees heard from distinguished speakers, participated in interactive learning sessions and put their networking and public-speaking skills to the test in front of alumni and others on hand. After two successful retreats held for soon-to-be graduates, this was the first event tailored to members of the Class of 2018. 

In addition to career advisers from the O’Brien Center for Career Development and representatives of Merrimack’s college leadership council and board of trustees, 10 additional campus partners served as small-group facilitators for the event. The inclusion of a larger network of administrators, faculty and staff was a change praised by event organizers and conference attendees.

“For so long, professors have seen their jobs as teaching in the classroom teaching and doing research,” said Jake Turner, associate professor and chair of communications. “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,” he added, “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.” 

This year’s keynote speaker, trustee Robert Zatta ’71, director of Innophos Holdings, stressed to students the importance of honesty and integrity in any business.

“Some concepts, some truths, are never-changing,” he said, “and being honest, and acting ethically and being trustworthy are at the top of the list of things you want your career and your life to be based on.”

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 of information technology and engineering at Addison Group, and featuring MaryRose Mazzola ’12, executive director at Boston Women’s Workforce Council; Tara Bartley ’12, senior program manager at Harvard University; Allison Farrell ’02, founder of Insight Educational Consulting; Michael Rando ’12, legal associate at Citizens Disability; and Cameron Bellao ’06, associate/lead electrical project engineer.
  • “Team Problem-Solving,” a puzzle activity that focused on communication, leadership, negotiation and collaboration.
  • A networking reception hosted by Merrimack President Christopher E. Hopey, and an etiquette dinner.
  • An industry networking breakfast with Merrimack College alumni.
  • “Telling Your Story,” a deep dive into developing individual elevator pitches.

The retreat is a collaboration between the Office of the President and the O’Brien Center for Career Development. The winter event was sponsored by the Advocator Group; Huron Consulting Group; ProCon; Patriot Energy Group; State Street Foundation; the James W. O’Brien Foundation; Karen Cambray ’88 and John W. Piekos Jr.; Brian J. Downer ’87; Dennis ’77 and Norma Leonard; Vincent J. Ragucci III ’86 and Stacy Ragucci; Michael ’80 and Maura ’82 Shunney; and Robert ’71 and Kathleen Zatta.


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