Staff writer ‘21
The semi-annual Professional Development Retreat was held November 14-15 at the Commonwealth Hotel in Boston, where 60 Merrimack College seniors were given the opportunity to prepare themselves for post-grad life in the workplace. The retreat focuses on getting students ready for their future in the workforce by developing professional skills that are valued by employers, like building their collaboration skills, their ability to problem solve, and promoting leadership skills.
Paige Proto, an Environmental Sciences and Sustainability major, was thankful for the opportunity to attend the retreat. “I think it’s awesome that Merrimack offers an opportunity that will really help prepare students for life beyond graduation,” Proto mentioned. “This retreat gives you a true taste of what the ‘real world’ is like and I was fortunate enough to actually make really meaningful connections with some of the business representatives who attended.”
Each day of the retreat had a different focus, day one emphasizing the personal strengths of each student. The seniors spent the day focusing on building their own brand, working on problem solving techniques within a group, and networking techniques with an etiquette dinner to follow. Day two was composed of sessions teaching students how to pitch to employers as well as network on social media. Students then were able to use their strengths and skills to lead them to opportunities through a skills-based career fair.
“There was a large range of people who attended and it was helpful to connect with people that were fully into their career, and people who had just started,” Megan Snow, a Public Health major mentioned. “I connected with a current Merrimack grad student and it has led me to a potential job offer.”
The application process for the PDR consists of extensive explanations on what students hope to get out of the retreat, the professional goals of each student, and the advice they would give to the freshman version of themselves. Names are not linked to applications, so the selection process remains entirely anonymous.
Although many students may feel nervous for the retreat and be hesitant to apply, the opportunity is one of a kind and something students should take advantage of. “I think I am definitely more of an introvert, but I figured that was even more of a reason why I should challenge myself and at least apply,” Proto explains. “My career advisor, Katie Fell, thought that going on this retreat could really help me feel more comfortable with things like networking and giving an elevator pitch to a potential employer.” Registration for the spring professional development retreat will open in mid-to-late January. This retreat will be open to juniors only and will take place March 26-27. For more information about the retreat, contact the O’Brien Center for Career Development through their email, firstname.lastname@example.org.