Suffolk Public Library hosted a Career Fair for six teens and one summer worker who were chosen to participate in our Teen Summer Internship Program made possible by the grant from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the Dollar Tree Foundation. We wanted to do this because our internship consisted of a continuing education element as well as a practical element. The teens really enjoyed using the O*Net Interest Profiler in one of their earlier activities to see how their interests related to their career goals. The interns were fascinated to learn which areas of the United States employed their chosen career field, expected income, and the technology skills related to their future paths. We wanted to further ignite this spark, by inviting individuals to speak at the career fair to the teens about their businesses and jobs aligning with career paths that were highlighted during the career profiling session. This internship took place in a high poverty area with limited resources. Working in such an environment gave the teens an opportunity to see individuals, who hailed from the same, achieve their career goals. The teens were able to interact with these individuals and explore their success.
This event was rather casual, as we wanted the teens to feel comfortable asking any questions. We began the career fair as a group enjoying hors’doeuvres in a meeting room. Then the teens went to a separate room and each individual speaker came into that room, sat down, and had a conversation with the teens. If we could do it over again, we would get a bigger room, have each speaker set up a table and have the teens walk around a little bit and ask them questions in order to get them up and moving. However, space was an issue this time. We would not change the causal manner in which the program was done so that the teens would feel comfortable and be relaxed.
The speakers included a local high school teacher, an owner of an art business, a law school student, a construction worker, and a manager at the library. We also had a wonderful opportunity for the teens to send questions in advance to a scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many of our male teens that hang out in the library are interested in sports so through some connections we were able to provide them with an opportunity to get real answers from someone who works for a team in the NFL. They asked all types of things from “What do players eat?” and “How often do they practice?” to “How did Donovan Cotton become a scout?” Library staff who worked with the teens during the internship asked community members to volunteer their time to speak with the teens.
What did they learn?
The unanimous response was that you can have fun doing something that you love.
When asked what we could have done differently?
The teens suggested that we could have invited even more guest speakers to the Career Fair.
Tiffany Duck is Manager of Library Locations at Suffolk Public Library.