By Heidi Hoogstra
Hollywood Library clerk
This summer, Multnomah County Library participated in a teen internship program called Summerworks, established by the nonprofit Worksystems. According to Worksystems, in the past ten years, youth employment has dropped from 46 percent to 27 percent. The Summerworks program found 530 intern jobs for teens this summer, 20 of whom came to work for the library.
At the Hollywood Library, intern Chazlyn Sharpe was glad she was “not fetching coffee,” as a friend of hers did interning elsewhere. “I love it!” she said. “I think, I’m doing their job! I feel more mature.” The goal of Summerworks is not only to give teens paying jobs, but to give them valuable work experience and satisfaction that prepares them for the adult working world. Chazlyn didn’t mind doing one-time tasks like shredding papers because she also got to do the work everyone else on the staff does. Her least favorite thing was having nothing to do, and her most favorite thing was sorting items into crates. She also loved putting out new books and the giddy feeling when a library patron exclaimed, “Just for me?!” as she put a book on the shelf.
Chazlyn, who is 16 years old, attends Centennial High School. She loves to keep moving, so her favorite subject is physical education. Although she says she’s not very good at math and geometry, she loved her algebra class. She also loves technology, “but it needs to slow down,” she says. “There’s a toy for a baby to hold an iPhone!” She also loves cheerleading and has been involved in competitive cheerleading. However, it is expensive to participate competitively, so Chazlyn stopped so her mother could pay her bills.
Chazlyn learned about the internship through her high school guidance counselor. She was especially interested in the experience it would give her. She “didn’t want to be 20 years old without work experience.” Summerworks included a four-day training in which she learned how to fill out an application and create a resume and cover letter, among other things. Materials created in the program turned out to be her application. In order to get the library position, she had to take a test on filing accuracy, just as library pages do. She thought perhaps her work with kids earned her a position. “I babysit a lot and wrote what I did when I unexpectedly worked for a long evening into the night. I handled that well,” she said. The parents were one of her references.
When she indicated her interest in the library specifically, all she said was “Multnomah Library,” as she wasn’t aware of any locations but her Gresham Library. Chazlyn admitted she doesn’t like to read books, saying, “I will burn books if you give them to me.” When she does find a book she likes, though, like Push by Sapphire, she will read that book over and over. No doubt some of her new coworkers will be ready to suggest a few similar books she could try.