HHS Hosts Freshman and Sophomore Career Day on November 22nd


Patrick Sweeney, Editor-in-Chief

On November 21st, Holyoke High School hosted a Freshman and Sophomore “You can Be Anything you Want to Be” Career Day in conjunction with local and state organizations, including attorneys, Holyoke Credit Union, and Holyoke Gas and Electric, among others. The event was aimed at sparking student interest in future careers and featured various speakers. Presentations lasted roughly 10 minutes and students “rotated” to their next classroom.

The morning began with all speakers reporting to the cafeteria for a welcome breakfast. The cafeteria was filled with lively chatter as student chaperones mingled with guests. Holyoke Police Department Captain Matt Moriarty was present and expressed excitement about talking to HHS students, saying, in part, “any time to talk to the youth is a great day.” Moriarty added that he “always likes coming to HHS” and enjoys “opening [the] eyes of students to a potential career in law enforcement.” 

Ashley Feliciano, a colleague of Moriarty, was ecstatic about the opportunity to speak with students, saying that she “did not have [the] opportunity in high school [to meet with local professionals].” Feliciano also gave a small window into the world of a police officer, saying that there are both “cool and sad” aspects of her job.  

After the breakfast reception, speakers were guided to their classrooms where they presented to students. Shortly thereafter, the day began. The event was widely praised by Holyoke High School administrators. Lori McKenna, the executive principal of HHS, expressed the true scale of the Career Day, stating that it is the “largest-scale job event” the school has ever seen. 

The Holyoke High Herald was granted special access to the event as well as various classrooms with guest speakers.

Among the organizations represented was the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Representatives shared their mission statement with students, saying, in part, that they “work with others to protect and enhance fish [and] wildlife for the benefit of the American people.” One also added that they began the job after obtaining a “wildlife and fisheries management degree.”

Various individuals from the Attorney’s Office were also present. Each spoke about their work with the organization, referencing hate crime investigations as well as various cases from the Department of Justice that “trickle down to the District Attorney.” An example of such a case is local robberies. 

Lawyers also informed students of their work, saying that they “work in conjunction with the FBI” and are often in court for sentencing hearings. Representatives referenced the skills that are necessary for the job, including the ability to be understanding and empathetic when it comes to defendants. One lawyer intern encouraged students to reach for the stars, noting that she entered the profession because she “did not see lawyers that looked like her” in the profession.  

The Herald followed up with the Holyoke Police Department later in the day, with officers giving students examples of their job benefits. Moriarty stated that they have “paid vacation and sick time,” adding that the time “builds up if you do not use [it].” Additionally, officers have access to an EAP program, a group of counselors that speak with police about the more trying portions of their job. Despite this, all officers agreed that their career is “very fulfilling.”

Another local organization present at HHS was Holyoke Gas and Electric, with representatives detailing a typical day at work. Additionally, they encouraged interested students to pursue a career with the company, citing an uptick in “demand for renewable energy.” One HG&E representative described how he has to travel around the country for work. For example, he traveled to Florida “with 50,000 lineman for 2 weeks” to provide assistance after the most recent hurricane.    

In another classroom, a local artist shared her experience with students as well as the obstacles she had to overcome. She detailed that she began her career with an internship. Shortly thereafter, she set up her first studio in her parent’s basement, which “had no windows.” After much determination, she secured the “Assets for Artists” grant and is now using those funds to fuel her work. 

A team of architects were present at the event as well, and were not afraid to share job skills with students. Both representatives stated that the job involves “using creativity to help others” and “learning new things.” They went on to say that communication skills are key, adding that they collaborate with “construction crews” on a regular basis. 

A local restaurant was also present at the event. Two representatives from Tandem Bagel shared their story with students, saying that they built their business from the ground up. Upon originally opening their doors, they had 25 employees. Today, they have grown into an $8 million company with 140 employees.The Freshman Career Day was a success in the eyes of speakers, with representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service telling The Herald that they were “excited to see the number of students listening to the presentations.” One went on to add that their main goal was to showcase “the idea of teamwork and bring it to the forefront,” noting that making collaborative efforts will lead to great success.