Soon-to-be Graduates Hone Their Job-Hunting Skills

More than 60 members of Merrimack College's Class of 2017 recently wrapped up a two-day retreat focused on developing and polishing professional networking skills.

The Professional Development Retreat, first offered in the spring of 2016 and now designed as a biannual event for juniors and seniors, was held in Boston’s growing Seaport district.  During the two-day event, attendees learned from distinguished speakers, engaged in interactive learning sessions, and perhaps most important, put their networking and public speaking skills to the test.           

“I was encouraged to apply to the Professional Development Retreat because I knew that I needed a better impression of what interviewing, elevator pitches, and real-world professional things were going to be,” said senior Nora Whouley, a communications and media major who hopes to land a job in the music industry.  “I was recommended to it from a friend on campus and I am really glad I came.  At first I was really nervous, but I’ve had a lot of fun, it was brilliantly organized and there were very beneficial activities.”

Michael Shunney ’80 served as this year’s keynote address. The current President and Chief Operating Officer of the Advocator Group used humor to tell the story of his untraditional route to a Merrimack College diploma, which interestingly began with a rejection letter from the college in 1976.  Shunney eventually transferred to Merrimack in 1977 and graduated from the College three years later.  He joined the Board in 2011 and acknowledges that today, Warrior Nation runs through his veins.

Other speakers and sessions included:

  • A welcome from Anthony Preston ’16, a participant in the inaugural retreat
  • Understanding & Communicating Your Strengths – using Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0
  • Your Connections, Your Future: A Lunch & Learn with Alumni
  • Team Problem Solving
  • The Art of Networking activity, a Networking Reception hosted by President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D., and an Etiquette Dinner
  • Networking Breakfast with Merrimack College alumni
  • Telling Your Story – a deep dive into developing individual elevator pitches
  • Building Your Network – Closing luncheon remarks from Joanna Catalucci ’88

More than 91 professional partners, many serving as members of the College Leadership Council or Board of Trustees, were on hand throughout the event to participate in several networking events and to help facilitate small group sessions.

The fall 2016 Professional Development Retreat was sponsored by Advocator Group, Huron, Patriot Energy Group, State Street Foundation, and the James W. O’Brien Foundation.  The second and final Professional Development Retreat of the 2016-17 year will be held in February 2017 and is focused on members of the Class of 2018.  This event is specifically designed to give juniors a jumpstart on the same skills.


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