NCHS students see benefits of senior internships extended into the summer
Published 3:10 pm, Wednesday, August 16, 2017
NEW CANAAN — When Charlotte Pratt, 18, began her senior internship at Pryority Wellness during her final semester at New Canaan High School, she was nervous about how she was doing.
But on the last day of her first week, her concerns were alleviated when she received an offer to stay on through the summer.
“I had no idea how I was doing, so it was nice,” said Pratt, who heads to the University of Richmond this fall.
Pratt is one of many students whose four-week senior internship, a rapidly-growing NCHS program, turned into a job.
While the school doesn’t collect data on the precise number of students who receive offers to stay on at their senior internships, Heather Bianco, the school’s senior internship coordinator, said “a number” of students got offers to continue at their companies into the summer.
Part of the secret of New Canaan interns’ success is in the preparation, she explained. The 269 students who participated in the program received training in workplace etiquette, LinkedIn and other social media.
“We want to have the best experience for our students and sending them out without any training would not be a good idea,” Bianco said. “Some students might think they know it, but even if they get one thing out of it, it’s fantastic. This is for the benefit of kids and the companies and nonprofits. We want to have a happy experience for both parties.”
Pratt’s mother, Wendy, is on the senior internship steering committee and helps interview and train students. She said she has noticed many students know the basics of workplace etiquette, but her daughter said many students picked up certain nuances from the training.
“I never would’ve remembered to write a thank-you note to my boss,” Charlotte Pratt said.
“Not every school provides training,” Wendy Pratt added. “It’s a very cohesive, strict, well-put-together program.”
Once Charlotte Pratt started her senior internship at the health and wellness service center, she was immersed in a variety of different duties, including graphic design, marketing and customer service. She also sat in on meetings throughout the day with the founder, Julie Pryor.
Now that the younger Pratt has transitioned from intern to part-time employee, she spends about 10 hours a week mostly working the front desk of the Grove Street business and doing work around the office.
However, she said her time there gave her the opportunity to explore health and wellness, like she wanted, as well as what it’s like working at a small business.
“It gave me exposure to different things I wasn’t anticipating,” the 18-year-old said.
“Charlotte was a delight to have in our wellness center,” Pryor said. “She learned our business quickly, developed good relationships with our clients and helped us with our social media. We will miss her can-do attitude, positive energy and work ethic.
“We know that she will do well at college, the founder of Pryority Wellness added.
Pratt said her smooth internship experience and extended offer is pretty common with New Canaan interns — And not a surprise, according to Bianco, as survey results from the employers show they’re pleased with the work ethic of the students the New Canaan High School sends them.
“The majority of comments I got back were (that) students are well prepared for the internship,” she said “They were prepared. All students were hardworking and proactive.”