On Tuesday, February 4th of 2020, the O’Brien Center for Career Development hosted its annual Marketing Networking Breakfast in Crowe Hall at Merrimack College. The annual networking event enjoyed a 64% increase in student participation, with the Executive Room filled to capacity with avid students eager to expand their connections with distinguished professionals and inquire about various positions in the business world. Students in attendance received the opportunity to network in small groups with several Merrimack alumni in a diverse range of positions in the marketing field, as well as with their fellow undergraduate students. Alumni in attendance held prominent positions among firms such as IBM, ALKU, PROCON, and a multitude of other companies of various industries.
The annual Marketing Networking Breakfast serves as an essential opportunity for students and alumni alike to establish mutually beneficial relationships with one another, and for students to receive crucial insight regarding the transition of career development. Students rotating throughout the room showcase their foundational skills and discover more intimate depictions of the various positions available to them upon their graduation, while alumni offer valuable advice for students to refine their skill sets and how they may stand as top candidates in the working world. The event further allows for students to meet potential mentors, probe about available positions within the marketing field and increase their visibility among professionals in positions they seek to achieve upon graduation.
Vice President of Marketing for IBM, James Gerace, Class of 1985 from Merrimack College, especially expressed interest in learning about students’ various internship and extracurricular opportunities, and imparted critical guidance for students regarding the navigation of their career development process. “When you’re applying for or starting any new internship position, don’t get too caught up in or discouraged about not knowing how to do a certain task or having a specific skill,” Gerace expressed to the attentive students around his table. “What really stands out to employers, and what we look for in students at events like this is, you have to come in like a sponge. Be eager and ready to learn, and most importantly, have modesty.” Gerace continued to stress the importance of mentorship to students, urging those around him to, “walk into any room, look around, and think to yourself, ‘there are so many people here that I can learn from’, and find those people.”
Among those undergraduate students that spoke with Gerace included Daniel Hansen, Class of 2020 and majoring in business administration with a double concentration in marketing and corporate finance and a minor in communication and media. Hansen demonstrated his impressive initiative in establishing a connection with Gerace and other alumni in attendance, and stressed the value of the insight he received from professionals at the event. “The Marketing Networking Brunch was a superb way for me to meet and speak with Merrimack alumni in sales and marketing, as well as learn about high demand skills in the job market,” Hansen expressed following his conversation with Gerace about the importance of incorporating leadership into one’s skill set. Hansen, like several other students in attendance, most appreciated the guidance he received from alumni in reference to the best steps to take towards advancing career development. “I was fortunate to hear advice and wisdom that some of these professionals wish they had when they were my age,” Hansen explains, “which made it a great event to attend while I’m just getting my career started.”
Alexandra Wolf, Class of 2020 and majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in communication, too found the advice and guidance delivered by the alumni in attendance a significant part of attending networking events on-campus. “It was extremely insightful to hear from marketing professionals on their work experiences and industry knowledge”, Wolf began regarding her greatest takeaway. “It’s important to go to networking events, such as the Marketing Networking Breakfast, because of the advice alumni give on how to advance in the professional world. This will help to assist us in our pursuit of professional achievement and development.” Wolf encourages all students to recognize the importance of attending networking events and to proactively work towards the advancement of one’s career as early as possible, stating, “my advice to underclassmen is to network as much as you possibly can; you never know where it can lead you. Connections make all the difference between landing a job or internship.”
The Marketing Networking Breakfast presents an optimal opportunity for students and alumni to learn from one another and create beneficial and meaningful connections to advance the development of students’ careers. As Merrimack Warriors broaden their network through events such as the Marketing Networking Breakfast, the connections they foster may develop into potential referrals, experiential learning or job leads, and serve as sources for incredibly valuable information and industry insight. Opportunities to broaden and develop connections within personal and professional networks are always readily available. If you missed the opportunity to attend the Marketing Networking Breakfast, your next networking opportunity awaits – attend the Spring Internship & Career Fair on Wednesday, February 26, 2-4:30 PM in the Sakowich Campus Center!
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021