If you think libraries are just piles of books, then you probably haven’t been in one for awhile.Omaha Public Library can certainly provide the books, but an equal component of the 12-branch library system is its commitment to community engagement. OPL patrons benefit from more than just a one-dimensional approach to literacy, where print materials are pushed. Instead, they’re best served from a holistic plan, involving numerous avenues towards a fuller life, and OPL wants to help fulfill the needs of Omaha and Douglas County residents.
One such initiative that OPL has undertaken for the past 11 years is the annual Teen Job Fair. This year, students ages 16-19, were invited to the W. Dale Clark Main Library to meet with prospective employers. Vendors such as the Henry Doorly Zoo, Old Navy, AMC and Spaghetti Works recruited at the job fair. Opportunities like this provide a great way to get a feel for many employers very quickly. Several applications and on-site interviews happen over the course of the afternoon, resulting in a better chance at landing a job.
Many teens looked for seasonal work now that summer is approaching. Upperclassman especially, were forward thinking in wanting to save up for a car or college. Michael is a home-schooled junior who said that he would like to work for the library, but thought he might start by volunteering to get his foot in the door. Holding down a steady job and volunteerism look great on college applications and resumes, so Michael is on the right track!
For Jope, she was interested in more of a long-term position. The YMCA was attractive to her because she knew she would be able to transfer branches if she moved away for school. She loves kids, and thought the Y would be a good fit, personality wise. Jope was able to speak with the recruiter, Martina, who gave her an overview of the organization and expectations before handing her an application. For teens, this sort of exploratory approach to job hunting can often reduce the pressure of a more traditional, one-on-one process. Because they’re able to survey many organizations back-to-back, they usually come away with a better feel for which company would be the best match.
The first thing Alexander did upon entering the job fair, was make a beeline towards the National Guard booth. After an intense conversation with the two recruiters, it became apparent that something beyond the normal scope of a job inquiry was taking place. Alexander showed them his bracelet, which reads “SPC Darren D. Howe, 3/20/84, US Army, KIA 11/03/05.” Darren was his big brother… He served in the 115th, driving a Bradley. One day, he drove over an IED… Darren helped evacuated the other soldier to safety, but he only lived two and a half weeks after the accident.
For Alexander, his brother’s sacrifice has inspired him to want to “do something that means something.” With a myriad of potential jobs available, he wants to find a place where he can make a difference. To all of the teens who attended our fair, we wish you the best of luck as you hear back from employers in the coming weeks. Wherever you have applied, may it be enable you to be a catalyst for change in your own life, and eventually our world.