This post is written by Allison Shimek, a member of the second cohort of the YALSA Future Ready with the Library project. Allison is the Director of the Fayette Public Library and Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives in La Grange, Texas Contents of this post were originally published on the Future Ready with the Library Community of Practice.

Yesterday was my first Career Cruising event for the Future Ready with the Library Project and I want to share my experience. This event was held at a local bank from 9:00 am – 3:00pm. We had 17 teens pre-registered and 12 showed up. There were seven males and five females ranging in age from 11-16. Everyone that showed up on time was entered to win a gift card and then we did a drawing and talked about why it was important to arrive on time. The entire morning was spent in small groups rotating through different areas of the bank. The teens worked the teller line and assisted the tellers help customers while learning how they count money, roll coins, and balance their registers. The second station was the loan department. Teens were given loan applications and got to decide what they would like take an imaginary loan out for and went through the process while learning about what a loan officer does. The next station was the bank’s boardroom where they learned about the Board of Directors and important decisions they are required to make. Lastly the teens went to the new accounts department where they learned what they needed to set up a bank account, how to write a check, and viewed safety deposit boxes

At lunch the bank set up a restaurant with linens, plates and multiple utensils. The teens were asked to sit with someone they did not know. They introduced themselves and learned a little bit about how to initiate conversation and the types of questions they might ask if they were at a business lunch or any meal where they did not know anyone. After lunch we divided into groups – boys and girls – to chat about what to wear if for a job interview at the bank. I had a bunch of magazines and I sat with the girls and flipped through looking for outfits we liked and thought were appropriate for a job interview. We also chatted about personal style and why we picked certain outfits and that if they are unsure, it is okay to ask employers what their dress code is and that it differs from place to place. With five girls, this activity was amazing. It was relaxed and fun and they really opened up to us. The boys went with Bryan, the bank Vice President, and learned about what he would wear to work and why. He brought all of the boys ties they could take home and taught them how to tie them. To my surprise, this activity ended up being a favorite for the boys.

As the day went on we realized despite having an agenda for the day we were left with time, (Almost an additional hour to be exact.) This was slightly terrifying but we made it work. Bank staff printed out their job applications and the HR manager walked the teens through each section and chatted about skills and how to include skills even with no previous formal job experience. The bank President then reviewed the applications and picked the two she would call for an interview. These two were each given gift cards.

Next, a recent high school graduate came and talked to the teens. He participated in a work study program in high school and worked at the bank. He still works at the bank part time while attending a local community college. The recent high school graduate talked to the teens about his experience and what he’s learned.

A check of the clock proved that we still had more time! I dug in my bag of tricks and pulled out a game that I purchased for the worst-case scenario. TableTopics for the win! The teens actually loved answering the questions and we got really in depth answers. At last, 3:00 pm arrived.

Reflection on the Day

A six-hour day with teens was hard but was probably one of the most rewarding things I have done in my career so far. I am excited and amazed that the bank is ready for round two next year and feels passionate about continuing to work with teens. For the most part, it went smoothly but we did have two very difficult teens. One that was unfortunately mean to other teens and that had to be addressed on multiple occasions. This also led me to wonder what strategies others use in these situations? I do not want to come off as a parent or teacher figure but bullying and teasing behavior is unacceptable. I had to speak with this teen once about personal space and being nice and the bank VP had to as well.

Lunch and the Tie Activity

I sat with four teen boys at lunch and it took some time but soon we were talking about golf, Fortnite, and their families. One teen told me his real dad lived in California and that he would be visiting him for the first time this spring. He said that he has a stepdad and then another boy said my parents are divorced. This triggered another boy to say I am adopted and do not have a dad. I then shared with the boys that my parents recently divorced and this lead to conversations about who they lived with and how often they saw their biological fathers. I did not know it at the time but looking back I have to wonder if this is why the tie activity and spending time with Bryan had such an impact.

Bryan is the VP of the bank and in charge of marketing. He is younger and very charismatic. The boys spent about an hour with him. He decided that morning that he had a ton of ties and was just going to let the boys take the one they learned how to tie home with them. The boys wore the ties the rest of the day over plain t-shirts or neatly arranged under their hoodies. Staff told me that a couple boys proudly showed their mothers their new ties and what they learned as they left the bank.

Table Topics

This game is a box of cards with questions on them. They are general conversation starters. As we were wrapping up, I asked what qualities make someone a good friend. A teen that seemed very unengaged throughout the day blurted out, “they need to show up when they say they will”. He then went on to say his friend told him he was going to come to the program today and then ditched him and he did not want to be there today. He said he thought it was going to be stupid and did not want to come. He then went on to say he learned some things and had fun, not the whole day, but most of the day was fun and he was wrong. I had no way to predict he would say these things but I think after a long day this was exactly what everyone planning this event needed to hear.

Talk Back Boards

We asked the teens three questions when they arrived and three questions when they left. We spent a little time at the end talking about the questions and their thoughts.

Pre-event questions were:

  • What types of jobs are available at a bank?
  • What is something you hope to learn today?
  • Do you need a college degree to work at a bank?

Post event questions were:

  • What types of jobs are available at a bank?
  • Tell us something you learned today.
  • What was your favorite and least favorite part of the day?

We learned that the teens listed a wider variety of jobs available at the bank at the end of the day than at the beginning. They also listed specific jobs like President, CEO, Loan Officer, and Accountant at the end of the day versus Banker, Teller, Account Person, Money Holder, and Counter in the beginning. The teens also learned that there are jobs that do not require a college degree and the bank offers scholarships to employees that decide they would like to go to college.

What they said they learned.

  • “You don’t need a masters to work in a bank”
  • “That you can make money if you give the bank money and not use it”
  • “The insurance policies for when something is lost or stolen at a bank and how to write a paper check and fill out a job application”
  • “Different jobs at a bank”
  • “About account opening and everything you have to have to work at a bank.”
  • “I learned how to tie a double windsor”
  • “There are a lot more people than I thought, and they are all important”
  • “How to tie a tie”
  • “The many different kinds of loans”
  • “How to tie a tie”
  • “How loans work”
  • “What happens behind the scenes”
  • “What the board is in charge of, different types of accounts”

You can learn more about the Future Ready with the Library project in previous blog posts and on the YALSA website.

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