Grant Jackson ’23 didn’t fully realize the benefits of being yourself when searching for a job until he attended Merrimack College’s Professional Development Retreat during the spring 2022 semester.
The two-day event, held twice during the academic year, is designed to prepare students for entering the job market through interactive learning sessions, team-building and public speaking exercises and problem-solving activities.
Jackson is majoring in marketing and hopes to one day own his own business – either a restaurant or a barbershop.
“I feel like marketing is an essential part of business and what every business needs,” Jackson said. “(The Girard School of Business) gives us a good foundation in all aspects of business and not just the one sector that you choose to concentrate on.”
In addition to his studies, Jackson plays cornerback on the Merrimack College football team. An unfortunate injury inadvertently led him to the PDR.
“I had injured my knee so I wasn’t able to practice,” he explained. “Upon knowing this, (Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rebecca Jimenez) reached out to me. She really wanted me to pursue my internships in marketing and my career outside of football.”
At PDR, Jackson and his student colleagues attended a number of seminars at The Westin Waltham Boston hosted by local business professionals and CEOs.
“They talked to us about ethics in the workplace, how to be authentic and create a story for yourself in interviews and how to be personable,” he said. “I think my main takeaway, which really was enlightening to me, was to be yourself…show people your personality and people will want you to work for them. You can be able to do X, Y and Z on paper or you can be the smartest person in the room but if people want to work with you, it makes it so much easier to (get hired).”
Jackson put these newly-learned skills during one of the PDR’s networking events. There, he met Nora Whouley ’17, who now works as a development associate at Rockport Music at the Shalin Liu Performance Center.
“He approached me as a confident, responsible and willing person,” she said. “When he told me what he was currently studying and what he wanted to do, I then realized Rockport Music has a marketing internship opportunity and he would be a good fit. With his confidence and willingness, I could tell right away he was a hard-working individual and that is what we look for at Rockport Music.”
A couple weeks later, Whouley helped Jackson secure an interview over Zoom with members of Rockport Music, including Director of Marketing Karen Herlitz.
“When we first interviewed Grant for a marketing internship at Rockport Music, we found him to be incredibly intelligent, thoughtful and engaging in the interview,” she recalled. “He presented himself with confidence but with an ease that made us feel like he could handle any situation that may occur at a concert hall and festival.”
During his summer internship, Jackson kept the digital marquees updated, developed weekly promotional posters, updated event listings, sized photos for marketing materials and prepared social media postings.
“Everyone in our organization enjoyed working with Grant and hope he will consider returning to work with us again this summer,” Herlitz added.
Jackson said his summer at Rockport Music couldn’t have been better.
“Rockport is like a hidden gem in Massachusetts,” he explained. “It gave me a lot of experience in door-to-door and online marketing,”
During his final year on campus, Jackson has been recommending the PDR to his friends.
“I think a lot of them would benefit from it just from what they were teaching us about interview skills, what companies are really looking for when we’re interviewing and what we should be looking for in companies,” he stated.