As Courtney Reggiannini, Class of 2020, majoring in human development and human services, enters her final semester at Merrimack College this spring, she prepares to enter the working world equipped with an increased understanding of her career trajectory and the skills necessary for her to stand out and succeed in her intended field. Driven by a desire to satisfy her diverse interests in the healthcare industry as well as in human development and human services, Reggiannini thrives in her ability to combine her varied passions daily in her position as a Human Resources Intern at Massachusetts General Hospital. Despite her current career success, the development of Reggiannini’s career began long before the discovery of her current internship position with Massachusetts General Hospital; in fact, Reggiannini’s journey began within her junior year, after she made the vital decision to take advantage of the resources available to her both on- and off-campus.
As her senior year loomed ever nearer, the necessity to provide herself with essential experience and to explore the realities of her major became increasingly pressing to Reggiannini. While she understood her interests within her major, Reggiannini realized she needed to formulate a plan to set herself up for success in the working world following her graduation. After discerning through her career interests, Reggiannini began to consider her desire to pursue positions in Human Resources. She resolved to meet regularly with her career advisor, Sarah Mackler, for guidance in developing her course of action to further develop her career. “I knew I was a unique major for a position in Human Resources, so I wanted to know what I needed to do to explore the reality of a position in Human Resources and make that [career possible],” Reggiannini recalls of her career exploration advising appointments. “I started visiting Sarah Mackler, my career advisor, and I just sat down with her and said, ‘what can I do right now that will help me land a job in Human Resources after I graduate?’ Sarah told me that the best thing I could do was find an internship to help me stand out in the job pool, and I should start by looking at positions that interested me.”With her career advisor’s advice in mind, Reggiannini headed to Handshake to begin the search for an experiential learning opportunity in a Human Resources department. “I realized I was really interested in the healthcare side of Human Resources,” Reggiannini explains of her searching process, “so I started from there, went on Handshake, and I found a few positions, one of them being for Massachusetts General Hospital.” Intrigued by the posted job description, Reggiannini headed back to meet with Sarah Mackler to touch up her resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills before applying externally for the position. “I really want to stress that it’s so important to meet with your career advisor to find out what’s important and what you need to do to really help you excel in what you want to do as a career, and what your next steps should be’ Reggiannini conveys in reference to one of the key components to discovering and landing her current internship. “[Sarah] really helped to guide me through that process of taking the necessary steps [towards furthering my career]. Taking advantage of having that one-on-one, face-to-face connection to help guide you through the career development process and being able to discuss your interests to figure out what you can do beyond what you already think you want to do is really just so helpful.”
Soon after submitting her application, Massachusetts General Hospital offered Reggiannini a phone interview, followed by an in-person interview shortly thereafter. Reggiannini notes that her attendance to the Junior Professional Development Retreat (PDR) played a significant role in her ability to perform well in the interviewing process and allowing her to develop essential skills in professional etiquette. “Taking advantage of [the PDR] is so important, especially in getting comfortable with going outside of your comfort zone and putting yourself in an unfamiliar professional setting,” Reggiannini reflects of her personal experience with the PDR. She continues that, “putting myself outside of my comfort zone was really the most vital thing for me to learn and get used to. [At the PDR,] you get to expand your knowledge in so many things through different scenarios and situations that you’re put in that you just couldn’t learn or experience in class, which especially helps in handling [the unpredictable] aspects of interviews and networking.” Reggiannini maintains that attending the PDR especially aided in her ability to understand and discuss the skill sets she possessed, and how those skills would serve the needs of the positions she applied for when prompted about her capabilities in her interviews.
Now, as Reggiannini progresses through her internship experience in the Human Resources department of Massachusetts General Hospital, she recognizes the immense significance of gaining hands-on experience in the working world through an experiential learning opportunity. “I’m learning that, there’s so much more you can do in the professional world beyond just the title of the major on your degree,” Reggiannini reveals from her current internship experience. “In my internship [and career development process], I’ve been able to dig even deeper into my major and the deeper components that make up my [field of study and its application to the working world].” She further expresses the hands-on learning and internship opportunities present. “Definitely just being in that professional setting where I’m exposed to those different aspects of the [Human Resources] department in such a large company, and getting to witness and participate in everything that goes on behind the scenes has been so eye-opening,” Reggiannini details of the value of an internship experience. “In a class you can talk about it, but being able to learn about it and expose yourself to it at the same time and put yourself in that position is something you wouldn’t get to do if you weren’t getting that hands-on opportunity in a real-world setting.” As Reggiannini prepares for life after graduation, she feels she’s affirmed her chosen career path and looks forward to entering the workforce with the knowledge and experience to excel in any position she chooses.
As apparent within Reggiannini’s own internship experience, securing an experiential learning opportunity as soon as possible within your desired career path proves absolutely essential in advancing your own path to career success and preparing yourself for your professional future upon graduation. The resources you need to take the next step in your career development journey exist all around you throughout the various opportunities that arise both on- and off-campus. It’s never too soon to begin advancing your career development into your career success – book an appointment with your career advisor on Handshake and attend any upcoming events, such as the Spring Internship and Career Fair on February 26th, to take the next step in your career development journey today!
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021