Internship leads to career
Even as a high school senior in Marlboro, Mass., Christina Barrett '03 knew that she wanted to attend a small college to help her reach her career goals.
"I really wanted to attend an institution that was somewhat of a community - something small. I wanted to connect with professors and with the administration and have them know my name," Barrett said. "While you might find that on a larger campus, it's much more difficult and not to the degree at a smaller campus."
At MCLA, she found what she was looking for.
"When I came to visit the College, I thought it was great. It was just so small and quaint," she said. "And, in every instance as a student, every professor knew my name. I don't think that would happen at UMass."
During the spring of her senior year at MCLA, Barrett landed an internship at Hoosac Bank in North Adams as a commercial credit analyst trainee, which she directly attributes to her staying in the Berkshires. At the bank, Barrett worked with Bill Wheelock, who asked if she might be interested in staying on to work as a credit analyst.
"I said no, but thought, why wouldn't I stay? The cost of living and community were great, and it was a good job," Barrett said. "The thought of that made moving from college to the real world made it easy."
So, right after graduating in 2003, Barrett moved a few streets over from where she had been living as a student and began her professional career.
"It was amazing," she said. "It was the best feeling ever to know I had a job waiting. I felt so lucky that I had something."
While at Hoosac Bank, Barrett was promoted twice. In addition to working in the commercial lending department where she did marketing from a sales perspective, Barrett also coordinated a sales and service program, which she went on to manage in less than a year.
Then, in the fall of 2005, Barrett left Hoosac Bank for Legacy Bank, to serve as a marketing technology coordinator. In that position, she dealt with direct mail, data base management, and oversaw a Web site redesign and implementation.
"It was a good experience," she said.
But the best job fit of all, Barrett said, came in August 2006 when she began work at the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce as the director of marketing and communications. There, she is responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing all of the marketing, communications and public relations for the organization.
The decision to stay in the Berkshires was a good one, Barrett said.
"I have never once regretted it. Right from the get-go, I wanted to be engaged in the community, involved, and find people to meet. It is crucial that young professionals find a network of acquaintances and friends to act as a support system.
"The Berkshires are now my home. I feel like I'm better connected here than if I were to go back to Marlboro," she said. "I'm really pleased with the way things have worked out."