We were lucky to be chosen for the Dollar General Internship at the Spencer County Public Library. Dollar General paid 5 interns to work 25 hours during June, our busiest month. Our time flew by with all of the interns learning and improving. The program didn’t start out as I planned but we adapted and everyone got what they needed.
The candidates for internship attended four classes to help them be prepared to search for, apply to and keep a job. Some of the teens didn’t want to put forth the effort to do well in the class. A few of them said they were too tired to learn how to make a flyer or at another class they claimed to have made a resume in school, didn’t know where it was but did not feel compelled to make a new one. Others took notes and paid attention, asking great questions to get better prepared.
One of the main points I stressed during the classes and in all the advertising for the internship was the hours they would be required to work. I planned their hours to coincide with our busiest times of the week. A few teens came to me asking if they could work different hours. At the time I had lots of applicants and maybe too much confidence in their dedication so I told them the times were required, causing a few good candidates to drop out of the program. After we hired our five interns they each came to me with request about their schedules. One forgot that she had summer camp one week, another summer school; two had transportation difficulties and the last doctor appointments. We worked around their schedules, the work got done and I stressed that if this was in the “real world” they may be fired if they couldn’t work their schedule.
The interns had no work experience. I found that they were all willing to work if I told them what to do. We wanted them to shelve books when they finished their task. They were good about moving to shelving after they finished the projects I had for them. Once they had the books in their hands and out in the stacks they were easily distracted. They did better staying focused earlier in their shift and working alone. We talked about what an employer expects and how important it is to keep busy. We also talked about keeping your eyes open and fixing problems when they saw them, not waiting for someone to say to do it. I was very gentle with them explaining how they could have done something differently and how a “real world” boss would have reacted to the situation. Our goal was not to knock them down but to get them prepared for a real job.
They all left with the knowledge that the task may be different but your attitude to work is what will help you succeed. One of the interns upon completion of a task had a way for phrasing his request for another job in such a way it sounded like he had not completed the task and was just walking away from it. With a little help he sounded confident and successful in completion of his task when asking for more work. I believe the Dollar General Grant was the only way a few of our interns would get their first job. For them, this opportunity was a great benefit, more than just a paycheck. A practice run in a non- hostile environment.
Stacy Tiller, the Teen’s Librarian at Spencer County Public Library, has hosted an after school teen club for the last five years. Originally the club was started just to keep kids busy but then the teens that were showing up had real needs that were not being met. Stacy quickly changed the club around from fun and games to a learning and support group. The teens learned basic cooking skills as well as how to get the best deal shopping. Teens needed clothes – they tie dyed shirts; they needed their nails cut – it was spa day. Stacy is looking forward to a new group of teens this year.