Part of the Project is Finding the Project

Anna Lee at a mood board.

“I emailed her, but didn’t hear back.”

It’s an early morning in April. The senior in my office doesn’t seem frustrated or undone.

I wait.

This spring, 78 seniors stepped away from Dana Hall in the weeks prior to their graduation. They were engaged all over the Boston area: Cambridge, Framingham, Winchester, Roslindale, and Brookline, to name a few.

The Senior Project program offers students a personal discovery experience as they work with Off-Campus Mentors and gain exposure to a particular area of interest. Students are engaged for two weeks, 6-8 hours a day, and develop new awareness about life after formal education is completed. A Dana Hall faculty member partners with each student and oversees their progress—before and during the project—as they journal daily online. And Off-Campus Mentors, not affiliated with Dana Hall, welcome eager high school seniors into their professional worlds.

As you might guess, the areas of interest are as diverse as the students themselves. Students focus on popular fields like business, medicine, technology, science, and the arts.

Some, like the student in my office that morning had a specific goal in mind. She wanted to learn more about independent schools like Dana Hall. How do they work? Who pays for everything? How does fundraising happen?

On her own, she reached out to an Advancement Office at another school by email. She heard nothing.

We work with the seniors to give them guidance on how to write a formal email seeking a project, the best way to find a mentor and the most effective way to ask. In this context, we teach them about the importance of looking to the resources around them. Classmates. Parents. Teachers. Neighbors. Classmates’ neighbors. Teachers’ classmates. Basically, we teach them how to network.

And, we tell them they are going to hear “no” a lot more than they hear “yes.” And, we highlight the fact that they need to be persistent, respectfully so, but persistent.

“So,” I ask, “what’s next?”

“Well, I found her phone number online and I called her.”

I wait.

“I’m all set. She just hadn’t had time to get back to me.”

I smile. “Nice work.”

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About Rob Mather

Rob Mather is the Assistant Head of School at Dana Hall. He joined the School in 1992.

One Reply to “Part of the Project is Finding the Project”

  1. Great post, Rob! Our seniors are blessed to have this real-world experience before heading off to college. Three cheers for senior projects!

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