High school finds nearby multinational corporations helpful

Fact 1: One-fourth of the Fortune 500 largest corporations in the United States have facilities in the area around Greenwich, Conn.

Fact 2: Our independent school, Daycroft, for grades 7 to 12, is in Greenwich , Conn.

Putting these two facts together, we have designed a program for our seniors, to begin in February, which will be called ''Current Issues in International Business.'' The course will be team-taught by our social studies department and management people from nearby corporate headquarters.

Building the course was an educational experience in itself. It grew out of a seminar we offered last spring as a ''special challenge'' to two boys. One of the subjects they studied was international business.

When they visited the nearby headquarters of Chesebrough-Pond's Inc., the manager of public relations, Donald L. Heymann, told them about some of the intricacies of marketing the company's cold creams and other products abroad; how Chesebrough was selling spaghetti sauce for the first time to the Japanese; how perfume ads in Arab countries had to show women clad from head to toe to avoid offending local customs; how business affects international politics. The boys were intrigued; so were their teachers.

Could the subject be expanded to include a study of several multinational corporations? Would the companies accept Daycroft students as interns? We decided to find out.

No corporation in the immediate neighborhood had a program for teaching students how multinationals work or putting high-schoolers into unpaid internships. Tours, junior achievement programs, co-op experiences, scholarships , yes; but a classroom course involving their businesses, no. But they encouraged us to put our proposal in writing.

Our teachers discussed the subject matter and scheduling of the proposed two-trimester course, whose purpose is to give the 20 seniors an experience-centered challenge their last year. ''Current Issues and the Great Ideas'' was proposed as the first trimester, ''Current Issues in International Business'' as the second. The faculty found ways to make time in the schedule for the team teaching, trips, and tours the proposed course would require. They designated two weeks in May for internships.

Beginning with people we already knew in the corporations, we made inquiries, wrote letters, got shifted from department to department. International Business Machines has more than 200,000 employees, so it's not surprising that I met a good many people while looking for the person to help us develop the details (time and format) of the project.

We tried to involve students at important points along the way. Some of the company officers asked for student suggestions on how the course should be set up and what the students would consider valuable in an internship.

We chose a reading list that presented several sides of international business for class discussion. One example: ''Global Reach, The Power of the Multinational Corporation,'' by Richard J. Barnet and Ron Muller. The students will use current newspapers to find articles pertaining to international business.

The course will begin with a review of the history of economics. Then an officer of the Bank of New York will talk about banking, and the students will tour departments of the bank. A vice-president of IBM will come to Daycroft to discuss some of the issues of international business as he sees them: currencies , trade agreements, inflation, marketing, and the extension of antitrust laws overseas. Then the students will go to Chesebrough-Pond's to talk to businessmen who have lived and worked abroad, and visit the Clinton, Conn., plant of that company to see the making of products similar to the ones marketed overseas.

Mr. Walter J. Hedley Jr., vice-president for international dealers and marketing for Pitney-Bowes, discussed with us several parts of planning a business-student program. ''There are some challenges,'' he said. ''Our people are in and out of the country, and we have to plan around their schedules. Also, it isn't always easy to keep a student busy for that amount of time. But the advantages are plain. We want to expose young people to the kind of company we are, to get the public to know us. We hope when they do this, they'll see business people are pretty good guys after all.''

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.