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Local professionals share career opportunities with Jarvis students

Photo of two students looking at tiny technology component

Jarvis Middle School students learned about career opportunities from more than 40 local professionals during the Journeys Beyond Jarvis Career Exploration Day on Friday, Sept. 30 at Jarvis. The professionals spoke candidly about their jobs and answered questions about their personal career paths.

“Today was a big success,” said Jarvis guidance counselor Shannon Buttacaroli.

“Our students were exposed to real people from our area talking about real jobs. Exposing students to these careers helps them narrow down the things they like and don’t like. That helps us to make certain their educations align with their interests and plans. This is especially important as New York continues to broaden its Pathways to Graduation.”

Mrs. Buttacaroli said Jarvis staff worked with the Herkimer BOCES School To Careers (STC) program to organize the day. STC staff arranged the speakers and set the day’s agenda.

Students attended five 20-minute sessions based on STC career interest surveys they took prior to the event. In addition to the five sessions with local professionals, students participated in welcoming assemblies and a reflection period at the end of the day in their advisory classrooms.

Each session reflected one of 16 nationally recognized career clusters—groupings of occupations and broad industries based shared features. These include:

  • Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  • Architecture & Construction
  • Arts, A/V Technology & Communications
  • Business Management & Administration
  • Education & Training
  • Finance
  • Government & Public Administration
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Human Services
  • Information Technology
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Depending on the sessions they chose, students heard from an aerospace engineer, firefighters, election commissioners, an author, a veterinarian, a physical therapist, a retailer or many others.

Central Valley Superintendent Richard Hughes was impressed that the event captured the middle-schoolers’ enthusiasm enough to generate ongoing conversations among students about their experience on a Friday, when they could easily be talking about the weekend or anything else.

“You can tell the kids are interested if they’re walking down the hallway after a session and they’re still talking about it,” Hughes said.

Group photo of presentersImpactful presenters

Students from the Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School at Herkimer BOCES also were among the presenters. The VP-TECH students told Jarvis students what VP-TECH is like and about some of the technology they get to use.

Brooke Newtown, a second-year VP-TECH student from Central Valley, said that when she first joined, she never would have thought she would enjoy presenting about VP-TECH.

“Now, I love going places and talking about it,” she said. “It’s really cool to see how excited the kids get.”

During the career day, Brooke showed Central Valley fifth-grader Tyler Izzo how to use littleBits kits, which are like electrical circuits.

“I always like technology, and I love playing around with it and seeing what I can do with it,” Tyler said. “I think it’s cool.”

Debora Van Slyke, director of curriculum and instruction at Central Valley Academy, asked students in one of her sessions to turn to someone near them and discuss something they’ve taught to another person. Afterward, she asked who learned more during those experiences, pointing out that sometimes a teacher learns even more than the person being taught.

Photo of man speaking to class of students “So if you like to learn a lot, teaching is a great career to do that,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jim McCoy, Talent Acquisition Coordinator for Indium Corp., was explaining to students that parts for video game systems are made right at Indium Corp., and he showed them pieces of nearly pure metal used for various products.

“That’s why your electronics are expensive because we use expensive stuff to make them,” McCoy said.

McCoy also passed around indium, the metal the company is named after, and allowed students to bend it. He showed a product called NanoFoil, which is 700,000 layers of metal, each one atom thick, so that the NanoFoil is thinner than a piece of paper. He demonstrated that the NanoFoil can bond instantly with a charge and go from 1,500 degrees Celsius to cool within seconds.

McCoy also explained that Indium Corp. offers a variety of jobs – with some available right out of high school and others requiring an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate or even more years of school.

Utica Zoo Executive Director Andria Heath spoke to students about her job and other jobs at the zoo, and she shared the zoo’s message.

“Animals and people can live together safely and harmoniously,” she said. “That message is for the whole world.”

School To Careers

Group photo of students chatting at desksPhoto of police officer speaking to classroom of students

MaryBeth Napolitano, School To Careers liaison and work-based learning coordinator, introduced students to the 16 career clusters during one of the welcoming assemblies and asked them what they thought the day was about.

“Today is about learning – learning about careers,” she said. “Today is about learning about yourself.”

During a later interview, Napolitano said the event meets STC goals of exposing students to careers and continuing to fill the native pipeline.

“It starts that conversation about careers,” she said. “It also builds awareness not just of the 16 career clusters but also exposes students to what we have right here in the wonderful Mohawk Valley.”

STC also provided feedback forms, so students could share their thoughts on the presenters and the overall event. Feedback all around has been positive, Janelle D’Aoust, STC educational specialist said.

“I thought that it went really well,” D’Aoust said.

STC has increased its focus on middle school students this school year based on feedback from Herkimer BOCES component school districts, STC Director Christopher Groves said.

“This is early intervention in terms of career planning and education,” he said, noting that the goal is to change the conversation at the dinner table to more talk about career interests. “We provided exposure and hands-on experience to middle school students as they continued to think about their life journey.”

The event relied on dynamic presenters who were able to reach a variety of ages and interests, Groves said. The career interest surveys helped STC select presenters – including adding extra presenters in fields where interest was particularly high – so students were able to meet local professionals doing jobs that interest the students.

“Despite the size of it, this was really tailored uniquely to them,” Groves said.

School To Careers would like to thank all of the volunteers, and STC is always looking for more business partners. Any local businesses or professionals interested in partnering with STC, may contact Janelle D’Aoust at 315-867-2216 or

Slideshow from the day

School To Careers shared this slideshow of photos