NORTH ADAMS -- It’s never too early to plan for the future.

That was a recurring theme during Friday’s Northern Berkshire Career Fair, where 410 eighth-grade students descended on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Associate Director of Admission Joshua Mendel said the third annual fair, an initiative funded by the Berkshire Compact, helps students start thinking about a potential career.

"We also want them to understand it takes a college education to reach a lot of these careers," he said.

Eighth-graders from Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School, Clarksburg Elementary, Drury High School, Gabriel Abbott Memorial School, Hoosac Valley Middle and High School, and Mount Greylock Regional School each chose two 30-minute workshops. Each were led by local professionals in fields including banking and finance, engineering, the arts, and social services.

In an opening presentation, MCLA Executive Vice President Denise Richardello, a Monroe Bridge native and graduate of North Adams State College, told students she was unsure what she wanted to study once she got to college. That changed during a work study position in the admission’s office, she said, an office where she would eventually work.

"Hopefully after you meet with these folks and hear a little bit about the different occupations, you’ll go home and say, ‘maybe I want to work in education,’ or, ‘maybe I want to work in the health field,’ " she said.


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In a session on advanced manufacturing, Scott Botto, a machine technology instructor and engineering at McCann Technical High School, told students the field offers a stable, well-paying and exciting job. For example, Morrison Berkshire in North Adams built components for the retractable roof in the Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium, he noted.

Plastic injections molding is a major trade in Southern Berkshire, he said. The field produces everything from plastic water bottle caps to protective cases for cell phones.

"There’s over 25 to 40 companies in Pittsfield alone that build all these components, and make molds that mold these parts," he said.

In a session on law enforcement, MCLA Public Safety Director Joseph Charon and North Adams Public Safety Director Michael Cozzaglio stressed education and fitness are important to the field.

"You have to be a good person," Cozzaglio added. "We’re not looking for criminals, wise-guys or know-it-alls ... If you have a good education and you are a good person, you have a good foundation to be a good cop."

Cozzaglio said that jobs include everything from uniformed officers to support staff who deal with handwriting analysis, evidence, and forensics.

"Maybe you like where you live and want to serve your community, so you may be a local officer," Charon said. "Maybe you want to be a state officer, or travel the country or the world and be a federal officer."

In addition to hearing from local professionals, every student was given a "passport to college" that outlines high school milestones students should make before graduation.

"We’re hoping [students] take away that motivation from today’s speakers to want to become that profession -- to want to become a culinary chef, a theater director, or a TV producer," Mendel said.

To reach Edward Damon, email edamon@thetranscript.com.