AYER -- Zipped up in a body-length red suit, fifth-grader Amy Esielionis experienced what work is like for sailor Doug Patten.

Her classmates giggled as she wriggled into the attire. Patten, who works with a sailing team that will compete in the Volvo Ocean Race this year, told Esielionis she was now protected from all the elements at sea.

"But guess what?" he said. "You better not have to go to the bathroom."

Patten was one of many visitors at the school's "Cool Careers Day" on Friday, when students got a glimpse of interesting jobs.

Patten showed students a life vest equipped with a clip so the crew can hook themselves onto the boat. Sometimes, he said, you might see a wave that is so enormous, you wonder how you're going to live.

Students from multiple classrooms heard about a range of other careers, from the president of a bank to a hotel catering coordinator.

Detective Kellie Barhight and Officer Jen Bigelow of the Ayer Police Department stressed the importance of education in the police force, including writing skills that officers need in order to write clear reports.

Students heard about the different colors of fingerprint dust and saw some examples of fake designer bags that police confiscate.

Barhight said that she gets to dress up for her job, and has been a UPS person in the past.

But students learned that the job comes with challenges. Not everybody wants to talk to the police, Barhight said, particularly if they're in scary situations and don't know the officer.


Bigelow, the school's resource officer, said she's lucky that she can come in to work and see students on good days.

At the end of the day, she said, officers are just moms, dads, uncles or aunts, she said.

"We have responsibilities that we have to do but just know that underneath it all we can be just as goofy and silly as the rest of them," she said.

Joaquin Nava, a counterintelligence trainer for the military at Fort Devens, also highlighted the importance of speaking and writing skills in his field.

His job includes teaching other soldiers, he said, and it is important to learn writing skills in order to fill out reports.

His work requires traveling anywhere, he said, and also requires a good memory.

"There are other things that I'd love to tell you," he said to the interested class, "but I can't because it's top secret."

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