This blog post is presented by Emily Hillis, an intern at the Sylvan Way location of Kitsap Regional Library. She has completed a project researching services and programs for New Adults as part of the Library's Make Do Share initiative.
When I started this internship, I was told I could do anything I wanted. And, honestly, that was a scary thought. I had no idea what to do with this internship...and I was supposed to take the lead! I brainstormed with my mentor what I am passionate about. My passion has always been helping others find a safe place where they can feel like they belong. At first, it was teens transitioning into adulthood. The library already had something in place, yet I still felt like there was something missing. I felt there was more to be done.
I only had a vague idea in my head of what I was going to do and what I wanted from this internship. So, to start, my mentor had me work for teen program. Through this, I learned about how to set up and run a program. We made "game plans" the week prior to the program so we always knew what was going to happen the next week. Life being unpredictable, our game plans didn't always come to fruition. However, our plans kept us from freaking out. We had a base to work from and so things always seemed to work out in the end. An example of this is when my mentor and I helped the teens with their Friends of the Library float. There were set 3 set groups among the teens: the builders, the engineers and the artists. However, all but one of the engineer team was absent this Wednesday. We had to rework the groups, but they all settled into their new place.
During the time we were building the float, I noticed one of the teens sitting in a corner by himself. I asked him why he wasn't joining in and he told me he feels like "no one needs me." This brought me back to what I felt I needed to do with my internship. I know what it's like to feel lost and alone and I don't want to see that happening to others. Fortunately, I was able to convince him that he was needed and soon he was laughing and working alongside the other teens. Come to find out later from my mentor, there were a few teens that have slowly stopped coming to her teen program because they are getting ready to "age out" or be too old for the teen program. This is when I realized that it's "new adults" or kids 18 and older that are struggling. Once you turn 18 and graduate, you lose your place in library and, well, pretty much everywhere.
I continued brainstorming with my mentor about what I wanted to do with my internship and I decided that I wanted to create a program similar to the teen (Make Do Share) program, only it would be for new adults. At this point, I had no idea how I was going to do that. I interviewed the teens for a YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) snack break video. However, while this gave me more insight to the teens and was a great learning experience for me, it didn't help along with my goal for new adults. So I brainstormed with a coworker who also wanted to create a program for new adults. I am 19 and he is 23, so we are both in the same boat and are living the problem that new adults face. Still, I had no idea where to go from here.
I was interviewed by a fellow interns Anna and Shelby during my internship process. This gave me the idea of doing outreach and learning from others of how to begin this process of making a program for new adults. Originally, I thought about interviewing my fellow interns just like Anna had done, but I wasn’t thinking big enough. My mentor went through all her contacts and helped me reach out to many community partners who help teens and new adults. I interviewed them and asked them about their process. I got to talk to them for about an hour and we brainstormed together to answer this question. From all of these interviews, these were the three big themes we came up with.
Get out into your community and find out what your new adults need.
Figure out your purpose for your program (e.g. What do you want your audience to learn? What skills do you want them to have when they leave?).
Create an activity that engages your audience while giving them tools or skills that can be applied to their own life.
Through this, I was able to create and host my own program for one of the community leaders I interviewed. This was Kitsap Youth in Action. I created an "Adulting" program where the teens could discuss their fears of the future and set goals to reach their dreams. This is my big dream for all teens, new adults and anyone struggling with life.
After my program, my mentor and I discussed why programs like this are important, and why it's important that there are programs like this for new adults. New adults or people ages 18-25 are just beginning their lives. I know I have been struggling with school, finding a job and just trying to be happy with life. I still live with my parents. I most certainly do not have life figured out. And I think settled adults forget that sometimes. New adults in this day and age don't have many low-cost opportunities to have fun and just have a place in their community. This is a problem and the library can help solve that problem. So I was invited to speak to the Board of Trustees about supporting programs like these. Let me tell you, this was terrifying. I was certain I was going to pass out or throw up or both. But I didn't. I guess the whole point of this story is to tell you that you may have no idea what you're going to do with your internship until the last ten hours, but that is okay. Sometimes unexpected things happen - both good and bad - and that's okay. Sometimes you're going to have to do scary things to stand up for what you believe. Do those scary things. They are worth it. They will be worth it for you AND for others. This internship is yours and you make anything of it. This what I have learned throughout my internship. Do what inspires you and do it to inspire others.