Teens have been largely ignored from this discussion. Most are embarking on a first job experience and are essentially clueless about the realities of job hunting. Add the realities of a poor economy on this situation and we have a woefully underserved group of people in our midst. The needs of the teen job hunter are not necessarily the same as an adult. Although both groups need the same information, the teen group seems to be lacking on the basic mechanics and procedures of job hunting. Talking to those managers who have hired/fired young people the following issues come up over and over again regardless of industry:
- Teens are not prepared when asking for job applications. They often do not have the information necessary to complete an application or even a pen to fill out an application.
- Teens don't always understand appropriate dress and grooming for job hunting.
- Teens often don't know what to expect from an employer.
- Teens also don't understand the impact of technology/social media on the job hunting process.
- Teens don't seem to understand the basics of time management.
The program itself was understanding the mechanics of an application and what the questions were really asking. (For the program, I had 3 sample applications, plus I created a worksheet for them to assemble relevant information prior to filling out an application.)
I also talked to these teens about creating a contacts list of people. Networking about jobs for everyone is awkward but teens particularly weren't sure what that entailed. They also seemed to confuse contacts for "references". Having students list good friends, parents, friends of parents and the library started the discussion in what a contact could do in terms of "getting the word out" on a job.
Although the program itself probably felt a lot like "school" to the students that attended, I was convinced that this is a problem we need to address in youth programming in libraries. I intend to rework and redo this program as many times as I can manage. I am not sure how much "fun" I can create, but hopefully it is a start in the right direction.