Jack Rich ’22 Credits Merrimack’s Professional Development Retreat with Giving Him the Edge He Needed to Score His Dream Job!

Jack Rich ’22, a Merrimack College senior majoring in Civil Engineering with a minor in Mathematics, attended the Professional Development Retreat (PDR) in the fall, 2021. Thanks to the PDR’s “Tell Me About Yourself” session, he was able to successfully land his dream job as a Highway Design Engineer at McFarland Johnson. Jack has previously worked as a Civil engineering intern at Weston Solutions, Inc., a Loon Center Summer Volunteer at Loon Preservation Committee, and interned with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation as an Engineering Aide 1. Jack is involved on campus as the President of Merrimack’s Engineering Honors Society, and Vice President of the American Society of Civil Engineers Merrimack College Chapter.

Congratulations on your new position. Thank you for meeting with me. Before we talk about your new position, can you tell me about your experience at the Professional Development Retreat?

There were various speakers and professionals talking about their experiences with interviewing and career development. They talked about the whole purpose of the event, which was teaching us to be better career professionals. We spent our time doing various team building activities and learned to find ways to engage ourselves in the interview process. The whole event was designed to get acclimated to talk to professionals about career-related skills.

What would you say to any student who is debating whether or not to attend the PDR?

Go! As I’ve learned, embrace any opportunity you can. The PDR puts you off campus and with professionals and is a great experience all around!

What would you say was the best part about the PDR?

It was great to connect with peers and professionals and start building further upon career development skills, and of course the Tell Me About Yourself session was so integral to getting my dream job. With the sessions at the PDR, you developed your own elevator pitch, bridged your background and learned how it relates to the job you’re looking for and how to sell yourself.

What were some highlights of the event for you and your fellow attendees? What did you ultimately take away from the experience?

Highlights for me were being able to have some insightful discussion about career skills and learning how to sell yourself to a potential employer. I learned more about advancing career development and a great deal of information that gets you more confident for executive functioning or conducting yourself in a professional world.  A great event all around! Career development is so important in college, and the PDR is a great opportunity to learn how to advance yourself post grad!

Thank you. Transitioning now to your new position, how did you find this it? Can you tell us a little bit about what you do there? And is there any advice you’d give to other students looking to break into this company?

I found it on Indeed.com and applied through there. As a Highway Design Engineer, I’ll be working closely with transportation groups on projects like contract documents, field work, pavement design, utilities, storm water design, and alignments. I just landed this position, so I have no advice as of yet.

Can you talk us through the process of finding and applying for your internship?

The HR director at McFarland Johnson personally reached out to me on Indeed before the job posting was even listed to offer discussing this opportunity further with a senior level engineer. I responded, applied through Indeed, and shortly after connecting with a senior level engineer, an interview was scheduled within a day.

How did you prepare for the interview? What was it like, and do you have any tips on interview techniques or questions?

I researched the company and what projects were happening, I reviewed typical interview questions, and I made a list of questions for the interviewer. I had an in-person interview with three senior level engineers, and it was very engaging. In terms of advice, I would say treat an interview like a conversation and research and practice beforehand.

How did the O’Brien Center help with getting prepared to apply, with the interview or with the job search?

While they didn’t help with this particular process, I’ve used them in previous job searches. Laura Thibodeau helped with the interview process last summer for the New Hampshire DOT. The O’Brien Center as a whole has provided me with valuable guidance along the way and has given me the confidence needed to land my dream job this time around.

In general, how did Merrimack contribute to your career development? What resources did you use? Did you use resources like Quinncia or maybe an in-person Mock Interview?

I’ve used O’Brien Center early on in my college career and often. They taught me about cover letter and resume writing, conducting interviews, and gave me a general interview question list. Of course, the PDR helped with a recent interview. We used Quinncia at the PDR, as one of the activities was doing a Quinncia Mock Interview.

Any campus shout-outs to folks who have helped you along the way in getting you to this point?

I would like to thank Laura Thibodeau, my career advisor, for giving me all the support I could ever ask for over these past two years. Whenever I needed advice on anything career related, she was the go-to person and always willing to meet. And without the O’Brien Center, landing my dream job would not have been possible.

Speaking of your time at Merrimack, how did you grow in your time here? Were there any influential clubs, jobs, professors, or moments for you?

I grew so much during my time at Merrimack. It especially allowed me to step out of my comfort zone time and time again, such as getting involved in different clubs. Merrimack gave me the opportunity to establish lifelong relationships with my peers.



By Casey Stevenson
Casey Stevenson Communication & Copywriting Intern