As an already popular program that places New Canaan High School seniors in local businesses for internships each spring skyrockets toward an all-time high in participation, district officials are seeking additional “host sites” to accommodate the students. Of the 333 total seniors in the NCHS class of 2017, 278 applied for the “Senior Internship Program,” up from 165 one year ago. “Because we have over 100 more kids than last year, we are looking for 100 more spots, so that is our challenge,” said Susan Carroll, coordinator of the College & Career Center at NCHS. Asked to account for the program’s rapidly rising popularity, Carroll said: “I think that it is part of the culture at New Canaan High School now. This class, because the program is eight years old, they have never not had seniors going into a senior internship program.
A few years ago, Kelly Devine learned that her good friend and fellow New Canaan Public Schools teacher, Katherine Munson, was training for a half-marathon that would take place in Norwalk. Munson didn’t ask anyone to come support her, including Devine, though the pair saw each other every day at New Canaan High School, on many weekends and had coached together at Norwalk’s Shore and Country Swim Club. As she was nearing the finish line, Munson recalled Monday afternoon, “I heard ‘Kat, Kat!’ ”
“It was Kelly,” Munson recalled through tears. “She just showed up by herself—that is what she did: She just showed up. Nobody asked.
A director of executive recruiting at a Fortune 500 investment and insurance company told a room full of New Canaan High School seniors on Tuesday morning that she’s required to Google-search prospective employees prior to hiring them. The Hartford does formal background checks on everyone it hires, Stephanie Scoon said during a workshop for this year’s participants in the NCHS Senior Internship Program, “but believe me we do go on social media as recruiters.”
“We are required to do so, to see what that person’s online presence looks like, and it has prevented us from moving forward,” Scoon said during the workshop, held in the Wagner Room at the high school. “So please, just remember: Be very careful about what is out there about you.”
She addressed about 165 NCHS seniors participating in “SIP,” as the Senior Internship Program is known—an opt-in program overseen by Sue Carroll of the NCHS College & Career Center that sees students apply for and, in nearly all cases, find placement for the final month of their academic career here in an area business, working as an intern in lieu of attending class. David Dayya, a participant in the program this year, said he applied for SIP in order to expand in-class, “theoretical learning” on campus to “the real world.”
“Sort of apply a practical application to what we are learning in school and start finding out more about what it’s going to be like to have a job,” Dayya said during a break in the workshop. He’ll spend the final month of his NCHS career with Filling In The Blanks, a nonprofit organization launched in 2014 by two local women that helps ensure area students whose weekday meals are obtained through vouchers at a school cafeteria also have enough to eat when school’s out (weekends and summers).
The Senior Internship Program at New Canaan High School has grown so popular that organizers need more area businesses and organizations to participate in order to place all the work experience-hungry students now applying. Some 100 NCHS seniors already have applied for the program, which will see participating students work as interns for the final month of the academic year in lieu of attending classes. That’s already up from 80 total participants last year, and with an application deadline set for Wednesday, some 125 total students are likely to put in for the program, according to Susan Carroll, who oversees the SIP program as coordinator of the College and Career Center at NCHS. One reason for the program’s soaring popularity is that members of the class of 2016 have always associated senior year at New Canaan High School with the Senior Internship Program, now in its sixth year, Carroll said. “It’s more ingrained than ever before,” Carroll said.
In some ways, New Canaan High School senior Fiona Risom already has gained plenty of work experience. A competitive sailor, she’s been a junior instructor for seven summers and has her sights set this year on getting paid to run her own class at a yacht club in Westchester. Risom also worked as a paid coach for the New Canaan Lacrosse Association last spring. Yet—until now—she’s never worked in an office setting before. “I’m hoping to get experience,” Risom said after school Thursday, speaking of her participation in the NCHS Senior Internship Program.