Seven alumni return to recruit interns and employees at UMF’s annual Career Fair

Story and photos by Marc Glass, March 2019

For many students, the UMF Career Fair is where handshakes and resumes are exchanged, interviewing skills are honed, and summer and post-graduate plans are solidified.

Held annually in March and organized by the career services arm of the University’s Center for Student Development, the event always draws a throng of students — more than 100 this year — seeking internships, summer employment, or the first job out of college.

Among the 42 recruiters searching for talent on campus this year were seven alumni, who gave generously of their advice and career opportunities. Here’s what they had to say about why they chose to devote the better part of Wednesday, March 6, to meeting with UMF students.

“I wanted to come because I want to create more business-focused opportunities for UMF students,” said Jennifer McKenney ’18, who at this time last year was finishing up her degree in Business-Economics with a concentration in marketing management.

Jennifer McKenney

Jennifer McKenney ’18 of Sherwin-Williams.

Now an assistant manager of Sherwin-Williams in Damariscotta, McKenney was recruiting for the Fortune 500 company’s manager training program. “Having participated in the Career Fair as a student last year, I was really interested to see what it was like to be on the other side of the recruiting table,” she said.

Josh Rose ’14, an impact manager overseeing eight City Year Americorps members at McDonough Elementary School in Manchester, N.H., was recruiting for graduating seniors interested in implementing school-based programs that support students’ academic and social-emotional development.

Josh Rose ’14 of City Year.

“It’s great to be back,” said Rose, who majored in Philosophy and Religious Studies at UMF before providing instructional support for McDonough students as a City Year Americorps member. “Both UMF and City Year were such positive experiences in my life. Being here is a wonderful merging of two worlds. It’s the chance to connect with UMF students and share with them the terrific experience I’m having with City Year.”

Hammond Lumber Company had Jessica McKenna ’18 and Alyssa Tironati ’17 double-teaming its table in the Student Center hallway.

Jessica McKenna and Alyssa Tironati

Jessica McKenna ’18 and Alyssa Tironati ’17 of Hammond Lumber Company.

McKenna, who was an Outdoor Recreation Business Administration major at UMF, completed a digital marketing internship at Hammond in the second semester of her senior year. She now oversees Hammond’s social media channels and helps with brand and content management on the company’s website.

“Having been a student so recently, I think I’m in a good position to engage students and understand where they are now in their lives in terms of exploring career options and understanding their interests,” McKenna said.

Tironati majored in Environmental Science at UMF, but said she “went a different way” with the degree. Now in millwork and estimating for Hammond, she develops material lists for construction projects and generates quotes for window and door production. Living proof that one’s academic focus needn’t determine one’s work, Tironati said that her roles at Hammond are “not what I expected to be doing after graduation, but I’m very happy doing it.”

Dawnelle Batchelder Sullivan ’97, a senior supervisor of rehabilitative and community support services for children with cognitive impairments at Pathways of Maine, was recruiting for behavioral health professionals, clinicians, and Ed-Tech IIIs to work at the community-based counseling and behavioral health services agency.

Dawnelle Sullivan

Dawnelle Sullivan ’97 of Pathways of Maine.

“It’s invigorating to talk to students who are about to graduate and embark on a new path, and to help provide some insight into what is out there for opportunities,” she said. “I’m passionate about my program and the many others that Pathways provides throughout the state. If can interest just one person to pursue that path as well, I call that a success.”

While some recruiters drove from afar to participate in the career fair, Elyse Pratt-Ronco’s commute involved only crossing South Street. As assistant director of Upward Bound at UMF, she came seeking residential staff and teachers for the federally funded summer program that helps students succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits.

Elyse Pratt-Ronco

Elyse Pratt-Ronco ’02 of Upward Bound.

 “UMF has the best education programs. That’s why we recruit here,” said Pratt-Ronco ’02, who began working with Upward Bound the summer after her sophomore year while majoring in Elementary Education.

“What Upward Bound can offer pre-service teachers is an amazing professional experience,” she said. “It changed the course of my professional life.”

Jayci Fournier ’15, Youth & Teen Coordinator and Assistant Director of the Bangor Region YMCA’s Camp Jordan summer overnight program, came seeking the same applicants — and for the same reason.

Jayci Fournier

Jayci Fournier of the Bangor Region YMCA.

“Farmington is where the teachers are. It’s where the best of the best are,” she said.

For Fournier, who oversees the Bangor Y’s teen center programming — focusing on helping students with college applications and essays, as well as career readiness — there is an additional bonus to her annual recruiting visits to Farmington.

“It’s great to see familiar faces, the Bangor kids I have worked with who are now enrolled at UMF,” she said.

Cyndi Woodworth McShane ’07, who coordinates the event with the help of Center for Student Development Director Bob Pederson and staffers Steve Davis and Lori Soucie ’08, said alumni involvement in the annual event is vital for students’ career development.

“I’m especially honored to see alumni return to UMF to recruit younger generations. I think this speaks well to the kind of citizens the University produces and the quality of experience we receive at this institution,” McShane said. “It’s especially helpful to current UMF students, who learn to see alumni as potential mentors and connections in the workforce. Their presence also gives our students an opportunity to see a potential future and the limitless possibility that hard work and a UMF education can provide.”

Alumni who are interested in recruiting at UMF career events are encouraged to contact McShane at 207-778-7035 or