Merrimack College holds inaugural Professional Development Retreat for seniors

Merrimack College's O'Brien Center for Career Development recently launched its first-ever Professional Development Retreat for college seniors. On April 7-8 at the Seaport Boston Hotel sixty students spent an intensive two days immersed in emotional intelligence growth and awareness activities.

“The purpose is to continue to give our students a competitive advantage,” said Vice President for Corporate and Foundation Engagement Jay Caporale. “Recognizing the importance of soft skills and how crucial it is from the employer’s point of view for the students to be well-rounded.”

Enhancing the retreat was the collaboration of the College Leadership Council, a group of highly accomplished alumni, parents and donors who are investing their time and expertise in the future of the College. Council-members worked side-by-side with students to prepare them for the practical aspects of the workforce, illustrating Merrimack’s commitment to its students’ success and the influence of the Merrimack network.

Deonte Dunn ’16, a sociology major, plans to pursue a career in business and found the retreat a great way to understand the nuances of the business world from members of the College Leadership Council. He appreciated the opportunity to learn from successful professionals within the Merrimack community.

“Just to know they were in our shoes once and they are here now when we need them,” Dunn said.

The retreat began with a keynote address by alumnus Dave McGillivray ’76, longtime race director of the Boston Marathon and member of the College Leadership Council. Through personal stories and amusing anecdotes he encouraged students to pursue their dreams and choose their own destinies. A networking reception and etiquette dinner followed rounding out the first day.

The second day included small group sessions designed to encourage self-reflection, awareness while communicating, collaborative team problem solving, and self-conviction during a job search and interview. Kevin Rhodes ’91, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Boston-based Brightcove, and member of the College Leadership Council, delivered the luncheon presentation on the power of networking. Rhodes took part because of his desire to help students with their professional development growth. “The students are really learning some very valuable lessons,” he said.

Likewise, the students recognized the unique and powerful opportunity they were given.

“The skills that we’re learning now can be used in all types of work environments,” said Jenna Perry ’16, a criminology major who hopes to work for the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI. “It’ll resonate in all career paths.”

Dr. Christopher E. Hopey, president of Merrimack College, acknowledged the important role the retreat’s sponsors and donors played in making the vision a reality.

“The investment we received from our corporate partners, as well as members of the College Leadership Council and Board of Trustees, truly illustrates the impact philanthropy and partnership can have on the student experience,” he said. “The retreat was possible because of this generosity.”

Sponsors included The Advocator Group, Fidelity Investments, People’s United Bank, The James W. O’Brien Foundation, and two members of the alumni community, in addition to multiple gifts from corporate partners and individuals.


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