Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Running Out of Time: Is the Senior Internship Program Too Short?


Last summer, I participated in a five-and-a-half-week research program at Indiana University, and it was one of the most intellectually and socially fulfilling experiences I’ve had the chance to be a part of. It’s also given me insight into how the effectiveness of these types of programs is often related to their duration. From May 15 to the 31st, Friends Select seniors will participate in the Senior Internship Program, which aims to develop seniors’ educational and professional interests as they transition into adulthood. Despite its goals, the Senior Internship’s shorter time frame may make it challenging for seniors to achieve the depth of professional and personal development it hopes to capture.

The Senior Internship Program has been the culmination of seniors’ experience and education at FSS since it was established in 1965. While the Senior Internship is a generally well-liked experience, based on survey data and previous internship presentations, the mere 13 business days allotted to it likely limits its intended goal of facilitating the transition into college and helping seniors identify professional interests. Should the school strongly consider student opinion, the benefits that students and employers stand to gain, and the length of similar senior projects at our peer schools, FSS should consider being more flexible with the internship’s length.

Despite not yet participating in the Senior Internship, the Class of 2024 is excited about its spring plans and believes that extending the internship would make it more impactful. In a survey of the class completed by 26 seniors, 65.4% said that a longer internship would make it more impactful, and 61.5% preferred a longer internship. When asked if the current timeframe would allow them to meet their goals, 30.8% said no, and 30.8% said they were unsure. Most students who voted for a longer internship advocated for about a month. “I think the [current duration] is incredibly limiting for seniors and their internship employers,” one respondent said.

Friends Select administration should also look to their alumni for opinions about the opportunities that longer internships may offer. TJ Hampton ‘22 reflected on the value of his internship experience and suggested that a longer internship would be more beneficial. “Take advantage of the senior internship because it is really helpful going forward. I still use my experience during my internship on my resume and job interviews. I think three weeks at least would be more beneficial,” he said. 

Lily Brin ‘22 agreed, saying that a longer internship would likely be more productive for both interns and employers. “Because the current internship length is so short, it is harder to find organizations willing to take you on and find meaningful work for you to do. I had a really good experience with my internship but had it been longer, I think I could’ve been given projects more useful to them,” she said.

Several of our peer schools have senior capstone and internship programs, but unlike FSS, they are considerably longer. Abington Friends, Moorestown Friends, and Friends Central have similar senior project programs with similar goals of exploring professional interests and gaining independence. Unlike Friends, however, the length of their senior projects is at least a month, with Friends Central’s senior project lasting five weeks. Additionally, these programs appear to be no less successful, a concern that some may have with students putting themselves into new environments for a month.

Some employers agree that shorter internships restrict benefits .“[The current length] is too short – it takes almost that long for someone to learn the organization, even with a small task.” a member of a Philadelphia nonprofit organization said. 

Similarly, some agree with students’ opinions about the preferred internship and think there’s mutual benefit in a longer partnership. “I think around a month would be a really good timeframe. Programming a project for someone who is only around for a couple of weeks can be challenging, especially when generating media content; it’s a lot of work to create work,” Ben Geise, Project Manager and Editor at RADIOKISMET, said. 

In fairness, not every mentor or workplace thinks an extended internship is necessary or always possible. “Although our facility serves a highly technical field, there is probably a lot that can be learned in a short period of time. Longer internships would be less desirable due to limitations on staff availability,” Eric Johnston, Director of the Quattrone Nanofabrication Facility at the University of Pennsylvania, said. Regardless, I think the school should extend some flexibility to its seniors to collaborate with their prospective mentors on whether or not they believe an internship longer than two weeks is possible and appropriate.

Proponents of the current internship program length may argue that seniors eager to graduate may suffer from month-long commitments they discover they don’t like. While this is a legitimate concern (with an internship of any length), it’s not very compelling. At this point in their lives, seniors know what they do and do not like, and they spend several months researching internship programs and soliciting advice from their friends, family, and teachers. Based on the effort and attention to detail that goes into securing an internship and how well I’ve heard seniors speak of their internship experiences, I consider it unlikely that any given intern will “suffer” due to a longer commitment. 

Friends Select’s Senior Internship Program has been a highly successful program that many alumni revere and many other Upper School students look forward to; I even mentioned it as something that appealed to me during my interviews when I applied to FSS in 2021. Nonetheless, I think that FSS would be doing its seniors and their futures a massive favor if they let seniors explore longer internship opportunities.

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About the Contributor
Alden Karp

Alden Karp is a senior at Friends Select; he has attended Friends since 2021. This year, he is covering the FSS science department for The Falcon. Alden enjoys learning about science and math and following the NFL.

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