With significant changes to the established norms of working, accelerated by technology and the pandemic, a similar shift is required in the ways the next generation of workers are prepared.
Merrimack College’s O’Brien Center for Career Development has quickly responded to the evolution of work, refocusing its efforts to ensure students are empowered to enter the workforce after their time at Merrimack.
“Any student now can go online and find countless resume templates they can use,” explained Samantha Medina, assistant vice president and director of the O’Brien Center. “The main thing now is differentiating what they are putting on that resume, which is where Merrimack offers customized support.”
A key aspect of the O’Brien Center’s renewed focus was in fall 2022 establishing advising centers in each of the College’s five schools, providing students with more resources to map out their own personalized career paths. This has allowed the O’Brien Center team to shift its programming to skills development, working to help students better understand post-college life and facilitating connections with corporate partners, explained Medina.
“We work closely with the school-based advising centers on plans that best support students and take into account the different ways academics are run at each school,” she added.
Another change students will soon take advantage of is the new physical location of the O’Brien Center on the second floor of the McQuade Library. Slated to open in February 2023, the modernized, multipurpose space will allow for more workshops, smaller networking events, areas for interviews and more.
“Our new space will certainly help with our shift from being a career services center where students go for the nuts and bolts, to a place of content creation and career development,” Medina said.
Despite the changes, there remains familiar programming including the College’s signature career services program, the Professional Development Retreat (PDR). Held once a semester, the PDR is a career development initiative for students that assists in cultivating professional growth and making connections with members of the Merrimack community, as well as corporate partners.
Among those partners is Boston-based WinnCompanies, a leading real estate development firm that builds and manages properties nationwide including affordable housing and military housing. Michael Reardon, director of talent acquisition, noted that WinnCompanies’ work with Merrimack College has helped bring a number of student interns and full-time staff to offices and teams across the company.
“WinnCompanies is so much more than building and managing properties,” Reardon explained. “We are a full operation with accounting, marketing and communications, finance and engineering, and that is the relationship we want to build with Merrimack College.”
Reardon will be on-hand for PDR, Tuesday, Feb. 14 and Wednesday, 15, and said when networking with employers, student participants should especially highlight their passions.
“I’m looking for folks that present well and articulate what they are passionate about and what drives them to get out of bed every day,” Reardon said.