Work experience challenges

Its Day 23 of 30 blog posts in 30 days challenge and this week we have another work experience student.

Year 10 students in Victoria do work experience to discover whether their career interests are what they expect they might be. I did my work experience at a public library, which put me off working in a public library, but not in libraries in general. Cue the ironic music, that later this year I will be celebrating 25 years of working in public libraries.

We take work experience students at our library to hopefully inspire future library staff. Unfortunately we get many more requests for work experience than we can handle, so it usually comes down to first in, first served. Also unfortunately we are often not the first or sometimes anywhere near first choice of the students approaching us.

So we end up with the dilemma of trying to give those students a good experience of libraries, against their desire (or lack thereof) to be there.

Being in an area with lots of kids, our students tend to do a lot of work with our Children’s Librarians, who are incredibly patient and understanding. There is, as you would expect, a lot of what I call – desk support.

We also would love to take the opportunity to utilise their presence to work on project type stuff, but it tends to be repetitive and not so exciting. So trying to get work done, using their presence, when they take us away from doing work by their presence, whilst also giving them a good impression of library work is an interesting conundrum.

Finding the balance can be a real challenge.

Would love to hear how you deal with work experience students and what you do with them once you have them?


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    • Hoi Ng on June 24, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I was a work experience students once at a library and all I did was to delete their old books off the system. or they told me to shelve the big fat non-fiction. Somehow I stayed there long enough and they trusted me with other work, such as repair work or book display, those were fun!!

  1. We make a roster for them so they spend at least part of the week with each staff member. This gives them the chance to see a bit of how each area works. It also spreads the load with most staff coming up with just a couple of things the student can help with.

  2. We give them more variety than that, thank goodness.

  3. We have a roster too, but most of the off desk time is with the librarians, as most of the library officers are on desk most of the time. The librarians also do the supervising. We don’t have many librarians, so it means we are kept very busy. Within existing setups, we do what we can to show them around all that the library offers from a work perspective.

    • Penny on June 24, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I did some work experience with the Museum Library before heading off to library school. I spent a lot of my time copying the Rev Richard Taylor’s transcribed diary onto archival paper. I did get to go through the accession books to find evidence of an old painting they were trying to track the provenance of … there were lots of stone adzes to wade through but it was kinda interesting. Part of the experience that was valuable though I didn’t realise at the time was the whole spend-the-day-at-work thing. As a student I enjoyed lots of “free” time and long lunch hours so it was good for me to actually have the structure of a work day presented to me. I also enjoyed seeing the content that the library had – from Goldie paintings to a vast photographic archive. Although I knew I wanted to be a librarian, most of my experience had been in public libraries, so the perspective of a special library opened my eyes to wider possibilities.

  4. That sounds wonderful.

  5. first, I want to say that I took your (well, not yours, but…) challenge to post 30 somethings, and I am finished. I finished early, so what do I get? about today’s topic, we don’t do that, but we used to offer library work for school kids who needed it, and all we got were arsonists and thugs who’d been ordered by a judge to do community service. so now we say, “stay out of our air conditioned library, you hooligans and go work for the parks department pulling weeds for two weeks.” library work is for the select few who know enough to bring us candy when they apply for the job. anyway, thanks for the challenge. I hope this is the last thing I write this month.

    • JT Murfey on June 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Was interested to read this as I have just sent Miss 17-year-old off to work experience today – but not to a library!

    I thought over the past few days while we “discussed” that jeans were not appropriate office wear, that the “experience” was often not so much about the specific “work” but work generally. Commuting on the train, wearing the appropriate clothes (!!), being the bottom of the food chain, and putting all those manners and “stuff” that you’ve learnt as you are growing up.

    And learning that sometimes you can’t always just do the “fun stuff” but that you have to do the “boring stuff” too – since that’s part of work.

    As an aside, I did work experience in a public library and in a university library and … yes, spent the past 20+ years working in libraries too!!!

  6. Nice to know I’m not the only one!

  1. […] Connecting Librarian writes about work experience students in the library, and commenters add their own… well, experiences. […]

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