M. Cristina Fernández
Assistant Director, Career Advising; School of Health Sciences
Cristina joined Merrimack in the Fall of 2020 and serves as the Career Advisor in the O’Brien Center for Career Development. Her goal when working with students is to support them to cultivate and achieve their professional goals so that they take the next steps in their career journeys with confidence.
Before Merrimack, Cristina enjoyed a career in Human Services, supporting adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities to obtain and retain competitive employment. Cristina holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Community Social Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She is a Certified Employment Support Specialist (CESP) through APSE and insists that she cannot get through her day without a cup of café con leche.
What does Cristina wish she knew about career development when she was in undergrad?
“In short – anything. I was an excellent student, but when it came to skill marketing and job search basics, I was a disaster. Accessibility of university services looked much different back then; not everything had migrated online, and FIU was a massive school whose two main campuses were separated by the entirety of Greater Miami. We were registering for classes on paper and then waiting in line at the registrar. It seemed like too much of a hassle to so much as figure out where the Career Services department was located, much less utilize any of their services. Besides, I was about to enter the working world with a Bachelor’s degree from a top-rated university, which I assumed would be sufficient enough to launch me toward a lucrative career. Doors would swing open, the red carpet would roll out, and I’d waltz right into the job of my choice.
Spoiler alert: That’s not how it works.
The lack of vocational guidance meant that I made a lot of foolish, preventable mistakes early on in my job search. I had a resume, but it was poorly formatted and didn’t highlight my skills and education adequately. I landed interviews, but I was routinely late for them (“Cuban Time” does not apply to interviews – who knew?), wasn’t dressed for the part, and didn’t give effective answers. I wasted a lot of time before finally being offered an opportunity. I wish I had taken advantage of Career Services as an undergrad, even if it was just a single mock interview or resume review.”
Assistant Director, Career Advising; Girard School of Business
Joe joined Merrimack in 2015. Prior to Merrimack, Joe started his career in Higher Education with the University of New England, then moved to Southern New Hampshire University where he assisted in the growth of the Military Career Advising department.
Joe earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Plymouth State University in NH and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Keene State College. Joe is also a Certified Career Development Facilitator through Lengel Vocational Services, Inc. and holds a Graduate Certificate in the Human Side of Enterprise (HR).
What does Joe wish he knew about career development when he was in college?
“I didn’t realize how important internships and related work experience is as students transition from college into the work force. The more experiences a student has the more opportunities there will be after graduation.”
Assistant Director, Career Advising; Winston School of Education and Social Policy
Sarah joined Merrimack in 2011 and is the Special Internship & Co-op Programs. Prior to working in the O’Brien Center for Career Development, Sarah worked as an Admission Counselor at the University of Hartford and then as an Assistant Director of Admission at Merrimack College. After starting her masters degree she realized she wanted to work more closely with students, and transitioned to focus on career advising.
Sarah received a Master of Education in Higher Education from Merrimack College and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Hartford.
What does Sarah wish she knew about career development when she was in college?
“I wished I had utilized my career center much earlier! I didn’t even think to do an internship until right before my senior year. I ended up not liking the career field I thought I would end up working in. This caused me to reevaluate my personal skills, values, and strengths. Ultimately, this led me to a career that I love, but I wish I had explored this earlier in my college career, so I could have gotten even more experience and internships before I graduated.”
Assistant Director, Career Advising; School of Science and Engineering
Laura joined Merrimack in the Spring of 2013 and provides comprehensive career guidance and support to students. Prior to joining Merrimack, Laura worked as a Student Services Coordinator at a private college planning company guiding high school students and families through the college application and admissions process. Laura earned her BA in Human Development from Boston College and an MS in Counseling from Fitchburg State University. Laura is also a CCE credentialed Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) and licensed School Counselor.
What does Laura wish she knew about career development when she was in college?
I wished that I had learned about the power of networking and how helpful informational interviews can be. Had I known, I think I would have been able to make much more informed career decisions for myself. I try to impart this knowledge to my students and stress the importance of career exploration early on and throughout the four years so that when they graduate they feel confident and ready to take the next steps towards their future career.