For the second year in a row, the Walkersville Branch Library, a small rural suburb located just North of Washington, D.C., hosted their annual Summer Lunch Program. With free lunch served daily for an average of 85 children and teens, we needed not only a friendly face to welcome our hungry families, but one who had the organization and quick-thinking skills to jump in wherever needed, even after the last juice box was given away.
From the last week of June through the first week of August, “Ms. Lydia” greeted our families, served up a quick lunch, signed up families for our Summer Challenge, and assisted with program preparation and administration. We were truly grateful for her service and assistance throughout some of our busiest times at the library.
However, we learned some things too. Managing a teen intern is very different then managing a regularly employed library staff member.
So, here are our TOP 8 TIPS for those libraries interested in hiring a teen intern in the future:
- Require those interested candidates to drop off their application at the library. While email or online submission is easiest for those who are applying, requiring a quick visit to the library gives you an immediate snapshot into the individual on a relaxed basis. Did they drop off the application and run? Did they hang out to snag a library card? Are they a familiar face?
- Offer an opportunity for those not chosen to receive some feedback on their application and interview. Not only is it valuable for them, but it forces us to step outside of our comfort zone and provide constructive feedback.
- Be honest with the amount of time that you are expecting from the intern. Teens don’t reside in a vacuum, and it can be frustrating to find out that their caregivers are expecting them for a family vacation that may take place in the middle of their required work time.
- Set boundaries with your teen intern in the workplace. If the teen gets a lunch break, will they feel welcome to take it in the break room?
- Be Specific about their daily job tasks and goals. Make sure to always have plenty of additional work to do if you find your intern completes their tasks in a more than timely fashion.
- Welcome them when they arrive, and thank them when they leave. Yes, they were hired to do a “job” but learning the concepts of workplace creation are equally as important as the job they were hired to do.
- The exit interview is just as important as the entrance interview. It can provide you with valuable information for the following year’s internship.
- Work with the Workforce Development or Job Coordinator at your local school. They will know the ins and outs of the work permit (should your state require it), and they will also have information about comparable internships and jobs in your area.
Betsey Brannen is the Children’s Services Supervisor for Frederick County Public Libraries – Walkersville.