Pamela Princiotta ‘19
Merrimack College is holding a free Professional Development Retreat for seniors on Nov. 1 to cultivate their professional development and networking skills. The Professional Development Retreat (PDR) occurs twice a year for upperclassmen. Seniors are able to attend around November each year, while juniors get an opportunity to attend around February or March of each spring semester.
Stacey Phelps, Career Development Associate, explained how this networking event has 104 registered Board of Trustees, alumni, corporate partners and faculty attending. This year there was 130 applicants, but only 60 were selected. Each major is represented based on percentage of students enrolled in the school. Phelps explained how this keeps an equal representation among all majors.
This event is designed to help college students build a professional network as well as discover their unique strengths. Phelps says the PDR focuses on “CliftonStrengths Assessment helping students to better understand themselves and how to create and sell their personal brand to employers.” With this assessment, there are also activities involving soft-skills development, a networking workshop and an etiquette dinner. Phelps sees a visible change in students confidence as they grow to understand more about themselves through this two-day retreat.
Jill McNamara, a senior who attended last spring, explained, “I was not sure what to expect going into the Professional Development Retreat. What I liked most about the PDR was how each group was assigned faculty members from Merrimack to facilitate the group discussions and activities.” McNamara thought this process helped her form closer connections. McNamara explained after this retreat she felt more confidence going to future job interviews. McNamara had a positive experience at the PDR, “I am really grateful that Merrimack provides this opportunity and at free of charge.”
Nicole Amalfitano, a senior at Merrimack, describes her experience as nerve wracking at first, but as she continued through the retreat her confidence grew. Amalfitano’s favorite activity was writing her elevator pitch. At the end of the activity there were volunteers who read their elevator pitches to the whole group, and she decided to be one of those select few “being confident in myself.” The only thing that Amalfitano wishes was done a bit differently was having more educators at the PDR to hear their perspective as well.
Katrina Agnitti, a senior attending the event this fall, is looking forward to the PDR. After speaking to a friend who encouraged her to apply she was told that she would be “able to get more insight into the professional world through this retreat.” Agnitti is excited to network and make connections.
Jill Blanco is senior attending this fall, she is also excited to grow her network and learn how to make “concrete connections with industry leaders.” Blanco has also heard about this event through friends that have also given “nothing but positive experiences and outcomes from this event.” Blanco is hoping to sharpen her skill set of networking and interpersonal communication that will help her post graduation.
As Phelps describes, Merrimack is committed to a student career success and growing a students professional network. This is a unique opportunity, the PDR is a “game-changer that can polish and launch students to the professional world ahead of their peers.”