Paolo Terrasi, Class of 2020, certainly holds an admirable record of transforming his ambition into action to attain even the greatest of his career aspirations throughout his undergraduate career at Merrimack College. Graduating in May of 2020 after studying computer science and business administration, Terrasi enters the working world with the confidence and an abundance of experience to allow him to truly stand out as a professional and exceed the expectations of employers throughout his respective field. Throughout his time at Merrimack, Terrasi has worked to acquire as much experience as possible through a multitude of experiential learning opportunities, and has held positions as an IT Intern at Merrimack College, a Corporate IT Intern for The Vertex Companies, Inc., an IT Intern for Griffith College Dublin during a study abroad program, and, currently, as a Technical Operations Intern with Formlabs, a 3D printing technology developer and manufacturer headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts. Particularly with Formlabs, Terrasi develops crucial technical and transformational skills to carry throughout his future career endeavors; perhaps in ways he least expects.
Terrasi began the search for his latest experiential learning opportunity over a year ago, almost 3,000 miles away across the North Atlantic Ocean. “I actually found the position [with Formlabs] in April of last year on Indeed, while I was studying abroad in Dublin, [Ireland,]” Terrasi recounts of his internship search. “I just searched on Indeed for IT internships in the greater Boston area, set up alerts for new postings, and I came across Formlabs. I looked into and researched the company and their website, and the company just looked really cool and interesting in regards to their mission and culture, and what my career interests were.” Enthralled with his discovery of Formlabs, Terrasi wasted no time in applying for the position. “Applying to the position is the easy part,” Terrasi jokes, “but navigating the time difference definitely complicates things. When I was lucky enough to have a recruiter reach out to me, I knew that I had to be diligent if I really wanted the position, and I had to find time to virtually interview in a way that would work conveniently with [the Formlabs representative] and still allow me to perform at my best. I just had to be upfront and honest.”Even after enduring the interview and application process for internships several times throughout his academic career, Terrasi still understood the immense necessity to prepare beforehand with his tried-and-true strategy. “I always use LinkedIn to follow companies and find out more about their culture, mission, and values to see how they align with what I’m looking for,” Terrasi reveals, and Formlabs was no exception. To Terrasi’s surprise, he would come to discover two Merrimack College alumni employed at Formlabs who, upon Terrasi’s request, kindly and happily shared their experiences with the company to help Terrasi gain increased insight to the culture of the firm. “Hear[ing] about the company from an internal perspective definitely helped me to really get a better feel for the company culture and mission, and it was just great to be able to talk to someone who has been there with the company for some time, even right from the beginning,” Terrasi shares of his conversation with the Formlabs employees. When inquired about any apprehension before reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn for guidance, Terrasi shakes his head. “Reaching out to people on LinkedIn is much more common than [students] think,” Terrasi explains, sharing, “even as an intern, I get lots of people who will reach out to me. If you’re just looking for some advice, or you’re trying to learn more about a company, there’s nothing wrong with sending someone a quick message.” For Terrasi, reaching out to fellow Merrimack graduates and alumni can provide students with some of the best e-networking experiences. “If you’re able to find someone who’s an alumni, you’ll have this shared connection and foundation [with one another through] Merrimack, and it’s just more likely for you to get a meaningful response.”
Coupled with his own preparation and research prior to his interview with Formlabs, Terrasi credits his career advisor, Laura Thibodeau, in providing him with irreplicable guidance throughout the hiring process. Even remotely, over 2,000 miles away, Thibodeau stayed in contact with Terrasi to help in any manner she could. “The entire time, I was in-touch with Laura,” Terrasi details. “This is my fifth internship, and Laura [has] review[ed] my resume and cover letters before I appl[ied] for any job. I showed her the job listing, and she’d go over my resume for keywords, and even abroad, her and I would email back and forth.” Terrasi values the unique and personalized experience of working with his career advisor. “It’s nice to have someone who will keep you updated and encourage you, and keep your morale high,” Terrasi continues, “and, career advisors, [navigating the career development process] is literally their job. They can provide career insights, advice, and answers that the Internet just can’t do, because they’re trained to know exactly what they’re talking about. They’re the most reliable source you have, instead of relying on just googling answers, because everything is subjective and unique to you and the situation you’re in.” For Terrasi, communicating with his career advisor served as an essential component in his overall ability to land the position he so desired with Formlabs. With Laura’s guidance, conversations with Merrimack alumni and current Formlabs employees, and his preparatory research, it certainly comes as no shock that Terrasi secured his current position on the spot.
As with most companies, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have rippled through Formlabs and the firm’s operations and daily functions. Terrasi notes that the company and its employees are hard at work developing and printing products relevant to the pandemic, including NP test kit swabs, ventilator splitters, and personal protection equipment, such as face shields, to address the growing concerns and needs of the rise in cases of the virus. Now as a fully remote intern, Terrasi considers his adjustment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in a positive light, as his time management and communication skills have sharpened now more than ever. Terrasi empathizes with his fellow working Warriors, who, while incredibly grateful for their positions, have additionally grappled with the complications of shifting their work to an entirely remote set up. “[Since working at Formlabs], I’ve been able to develop really interpersonal relationships, and I talk with my peers both as my co-workers and also as friends, so I definitely miss being able to see my team everyday and experience the environment and the culture of the company,” Terrasi shares, as most students and interns alike can attest. Terrasi advises other student interns who find themselves in a similar position amidst a remote transition, “keep up with your co-workers. Depending on your relationship with them, there’s lots of ways for you to keep in touch and strengthen those friendships; for example, [my co-workers and I] play virtual games or we’ll have a virtual happy hour, or you can even just make a friendly group chat. It’s just important to initiate and maintain communication.” Even with your fellow students at Merrimack College, staying in touch with one another can play a key role during such a difficult situation and aid in creating a smoother transition.
As the college transitions to remote operations as well, know that the O’Brien Center for Career Development will always be available to help you through your unique career development journey, when you feel ready and at your own pace. If your career development remains as a preoccupation for you amidst this difficult transition, the O’Brien Center is here always to help reduce any anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed. Schedule a virtual appointment with your career advisor to discuss your career concerns, or take advantage of your LinkedIn Learning account to begin working towards mastering a number of professional skills at your own pace.
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021