The below blog post was written by Karmen, a Make Do Share Intern at our Sylvan Way location, as she reflects on her experience at the end of her internship. Make Do Share internships are supported by a grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and provide teens and young adults (ages 16-25) with the opportunity to gain real world job experience while developing 21st century skills. They also help to make the Library's youth STEM programs more awesome!
Kids are unpredictable. If there’s anything I learned during my internship, it was how to go with the flow. I helped plan and run many events, and there was always something I had never thought of the kids brought up. Usually, and especially before my internship, the flexibility needed to work with kids when leading a program would have nearly paralyzed me. After helping with a couple events, however, it became like second nature and I didn’t even realize what I was doing until I reflected upon it. This has been an excellent skill for me to improve upon because I plan on becoming an early elementary school teacher, which requires leading activities for children.
When I first started my internship, one of my goals was to learn more about how libraries work and their goals. I thought libraries only handled books, but just a couple weeks ago, I realized my perspective had changed. “Oh yeah, you guys (the library) have books to organize too,” I remarked to Ericka, my mentor. My view had expanded to include the STEM activities the library conducts and the library’s goal to meet the needs of the community, whether asking and potentially providing what a community member wants to see at the library, or helping someone get the books they want to read.
My favorite thing about the internship was getting to see a need in the community and fill it with support of an organization. Near the beginning of my internship, I helped Ericka with the Third Graders to The Library events. At these events, third graders and their teachers come from the local schools to go on a behind-the-scenes library tour and learn about library resources. I learned new information about the library, and I was helping with the event! I realized that homeschooled students would not get this opportunity, and decided to reach out to a local homeschool organization, and try to set up a visit. Since I invited the entire family of third/fourth graders, their parents and siblings got to participate as well, and I think the whole family liked the visit.
Trying to get this visit scheduled was challenging. It took a couple weeks to get ahold of someone tied to the organization, and since I only worked twice a week, communication was even more sparse. I learned if you really want something, you keep trying and trying until you either can’t get ahold of someone or you get no for an answer. Another part of setting up this visit was deciding who to invite to the event. Usually the event is only for third graders, but this particular group has split-grade levels, with fairly small class sizes, and I had to make some big decisions.
In elementary school, I attended a local before and after school program. I spent many long hours there reading, playing outside, and doing crafts. But I didn't really get to do any STEM-related activities, which I wanted to change for kids currently attending the program. So I reached out to the program director, and we set up two one-hour visits, where I would attend the after-school program, with Ericka’s help, and lead STEM-activities with the kids. The first visit was challenging for multiple reasons, but it set us up for better success the next visit. At the same time, I also learned how to reflect on an experience and change things for a (hopefully) more positive experience the next time.
Reflecting on my internship has shown me that I have grown immensely. I learned kids are unpredictable and to keep trying until someone stops you. I can change the community, make tough decisions, and change my views.