This summer, the Davenport Public Library was able to hire two teen interns thanks to the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Grant. The Library wanted to give creative and online-savvy teens a chance to see how their skills can be used in a workplace. We chose to create two distinct and specific internship opportunities in Art & Social Media where paying jobs are not often available for Teens, yet there is a high interest and potential for young people. In order to fill these unique internship positions, we first needed to create job descriptions, applications and an interview process.
Although, we received notification of the grant in early February, we quickly learned that we needed to start the hiring process ASAP. The Library formed a team of the HR Manager, the Youth Services & Programming Supervisor, and a Youth Services & Programming Librarian who would be working with the interns and also serves st the Social Media Team Leader. We wanted to post the job at the beginning of March and leave the posting up for about a month. We would then be able to narrow down applications and complete interviews in April and offer the position in early May (so we would have time, although not much, to reoffer the position to another applicant in May if someone turned it down). Since this was a summer internship position, there was no wiggle room nor pushing back the start date if something in the hiring process caused a delay.
Instead of creating a job description from scratch, we decided to adapt the existing descriptions from the Student Clerk Aide positions. However, we did need to determine what specific creative and online skills that we wanted our interns to possess. These was pretty simple for the Social Media Intern; we added items such as “computer skills relating to social media such as uploading images, file formats, and saving to photo storage” and “Represents the Library when interacting with patrons online through the Library social media accounts.” However, it was more difficult to label skills and duties for the Creative Literacy Intern since our vision for that position was a little more ambiguous. Although we assumed most of the applicants would be interested in visual arts, we wanted the job description to be open to all student artists and not rule out music, theater, dance, writing, etc. For example, the Creative Literacy Intern job description listed one of the duties as “working with the Youth Services & Programming staff and other Library departments to create and maintain visually exciting and relevant library environments that promote reading.”
Once our hiring team had agreed upon the job descriptions, we still need to create an application before we could upload the position to the City of Davenport’s job opening website and then begin to promote the internships. Like with the job descriptions, we decided to keep the application similar to the Student Clerk Aide application, but added a couple personality questions such as “Give the name of a favorite book you read in elementary school and how that book affects you today.” Once a teen submitted their application, our HR Manager would email them that the Library had received their application, and give them a small additional task related to the position they were seeking. We asked those applying for the Creative Literacy Internships to create a design for a summer reading bulletin board and attach a jpg of the design/sketch to an email reply. The social media intern applicants were asked to send us three examples (by providing links or screenshots) of their original facebook/Instagram/snapchat/tumblr posts that promote reading. In addition to providing us with some insight into the teens’ creativity, it also gave us an idea of how well they followed directions.
Due to the large amount of applications the Library receives for its student clerk aide positions, the uniqueness of the internship positions and the $500 stipends, we had expected to receive quite a few applications. Surprisingly, we did not receive as many as expected (possibly due to the complicated application process), but the teens who did fully complete the application process were all excellent candidates. However, we had been focusing on the schedules of high school students and had not thought about new college students applying for these positions. Several of them had extremely strong applications, but due to their college schedules, they were unable to travel home for any interview during April. Our Youth Services and Programming Librarian also struggled with interviewing the teens that she knew from teen programming; she often had to stop herself from answering questions for them when she felt they weren’t selling themselves and their skills enough. An additional interviewing obstacle was the competition from other summer jobs. Although the stipend for the Library’s internships came to about $10 per hour, it was limited to 50 hours total and ended in July. By April, when we were able to interview and offer positions to our applicants, some had already accepted other summer jobs that could offer more hours.
After this 3+ month hiring process, which was a huge learning experience for us, the Library hired two amazing interns: Lily Porter as our Social Media Intern and Ariana Hill as our Creative Literacy Intern. They did amazing work for the Library over the course of 8 weeks and we would like to give a big THANK YOU to them, YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation!
Amber Carlson is the Youth Services & Programming Librarian at the Davenport Public Library.