By Kayla Regan ’17
From Nov. 3 to 5, 60 Merrimack seniors participated in a professional development retreat. After applicants were carefully selected, the most qualified individuals were hand-picked and shipped off to Boston to the Seaport Hotel.
At the retreat, students learned the rules and etiquette of networking and were able to build connections with recent and long-term Merrimack College alumni that attended the event.
“The professional development retreat provided us an opportunity to fine-tune the soft skills necessary to succeed in the working world. We also learned how to maximize our strengths, network with success, and conduct ourselves properly at a formal dinner,” said senior Caroline Urbanek.
Director of Operations at the O’Brien Center for Career Development Samantha Medina explained the purpose of the retreat.
“It began last April, and exists today, to build emotional intelligence and ‘soft skill’ – skills to assist in professional development and preparation for landing and succeeding at your first job after graduation,” said Medina.
This year’s retreat was designed for seniors. There will be another in February 2017 for juniors. Applicants for the February retreat have already been accepted. There were 228 applicants total for these 120 spots, demonstrating the competitiveness of the event.
“It was an absolutely amazing experience. I highly recommend it to anybody that has the opportunity to participate. It really helped to develop my professional skills and strengths,” said Zach Hesketh.
To apply, students had to fill out an online application and answer questions about their post-graduation plans, interest in the event, and how they feel they would benefit from a retreat like this one. Those with the best responses and interest in the event were invited to attend.
Seniors who attended the event seemed to have nothing but positive feedback.
“My favorite part was the elevator speeches. It was so exciting to hear everyone’s unique stories and what they plan to tell their future employers,” said Marisa Rainey.
According to Medina, future seniors can look forward to a similar retreat in their future.
“We expect this event to continue into the foreseeable future. While there is always a bit of an unknown, we hope to offer this opportunity to more students too,” Medina said.