Jefferson County Public Library Summer Internship Process

Here at Jefferson County Public Library, we just finished our summer reading program, during which we had the opportunity to host a teen intern. I wanted to write about our process and also give some advice about what we learned, which I blog about below. I hope future grantees find this helpful, and if they are interested in further material from our program, can find it on the 2018 Teen Intern Grantee Space.

Marketing

To market our teen intern program, I first created a flyer on Canva:

We advertised on our Facebook page and also during an outreach program we do each semester at local junior and high schools called Lunch in the Library, where we provide pizza for lunch and the teens get to learn about library services and offer suggestions for programming, collection development, etc. The Facebook advertising got the most interest from parents, who messaged the library’s Facebook account asking for more information, however I found that not many of their children actually applied. The most effective way I found good candidates was asking the school librarians if they had any aides that they thought would be interested. These students all had library experience that was helpful if we needed to do tasks related to shelf reading, shifting, etc.

Interview & Hiring Process

The Summer Reading Teen Intern Toolkit pdf was extremely helpful in offering sample applications, interview questions, rejection letters, and overall advice. We kept the interviews to less than 15 minutes and asked a few questions to see what experience they had, why they were interested in working at the library, what they wanted to learn, and if they had the necessary transportation and schedule availability.

Learning Outcomes for the Teens

The project I gave our intern to do was to see how we plan and run programs throughout the summer, and then plan an activity to do at the teen’s summer reading finisher party. They did a great job of looking up ideas online and decided on having cup stacking games and competitions, which all ages had a ton of fun playing. I think this project was successful in giving the intern more advanced experience in library work and program planning.

I also had the intern write an exit essay, which was very helpful in learning what they thought about the program and how to improve. They said that it was a great opportunity because there aren’t many places for teens to work in the summer aside from the parks or in food service.

Advice

A few things I learned from the program:

  • Always have a list of tasks for your intern to do.

Make sure you write detailed directions and that they know where this list is so they can refer to it if they can’t find you or finish other tasks. I often overestimated how much time it would take for the intern to do certain tasks, and it’s hard to find new things for them to do when you’re in the middle of summer reading activities and don’t have time to write directions.

  • Hire more than one intern.

I wanted to make sure our interns were paid fairly and for that reason I only hired one. However, with vacations and other summer activities that the intern had to take time off for, it left us a few weeks without help and also made some weeks very busy for the intern trying to make up hours. For this reason, I would suggest splitting the hours between at least two interns so that you are more likely to always have help.

Thank you again to YALSA and Dollar General for making this grant possible!  The intern was a huge help during our summer reading program, and it was great work experience for them!

Kendra McAdams is a Teen Librarian at the Jefferson County Public Library in Madison, Indiana.

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