For the past three years, I have been participating in a 10th grade career fair here in Charlottesville, VA. The University of Virginia Library sponsors a table, and they invite anyone from the Library to sign up and talk to 10th graders about a career in the Library. I always volunteer because I have access to the fun, exciting, crowd stopping technology. I bring along a 3D printer, some electronics and a few 3D printed artifacts.
After doing this for three years (sometimes twice a year), I have a set spiel that I present to introduce the Makerspace in the Scholars’ Lab. After talking with these young students, seeing what interests them and finding out what they expect to do with their lives (which surprisingly many students have an idea of what kind of profession they want to embark in), I have developed two pieces of information that I like to impart before they leave my table. If they aren’t interested in working at UVA Library, at least they’ll go away with these two life’s lessons.
First Life’s Lesson: The Library is your friend
I usually give these 10th graders this college advice. No matter what you study or where, there are three things you have to do when you get to college.
- find out where your dorm is
- find out where the food is
- find out where the library is
The first two are self-explanatory. But the Library? I tell them that every library has special people there that focus on whatever it is you are studying. And they are literally just sitting around waiting for students to come ask them to help them with their research. They will know where your books are, they will know where your journal articles are, and they can even help you edit your papers. They know everything, or if they don’t, they know where to find it. One of most important things to find at college is your librarian!
And that goes for the rest of your life, too. If ever you need help with learning anything, go to your library and ask your librarian for help. If they don’t know it, they’ll know how to get it. That’s their job! And as I have seen at UVA Library, helping others find the information they need is their passion.
Second Life’s Lesson: You can do anything you want!
I sometimes get a little passionate about this one, but I try to let these awesome young people know that the whole wide world is open to them. I tell them that there is nothing stopping them from reaching any goal or wish they have except for their own imagination. Sure, the path might be hard and they might feel like it’s impossible, but that’s to be expected, and frankly, a wonderful thing. Anything worth doing is going to be hard. Challenges, and hard times are how we grow, improve and progress. There’s no growing muscles while sitting on the couch eating chips and playing video games. There’s only growth when exercising and stretching and stressing your muscles. I tell them to not let anyone or anything tell them they can’t accomplish what they want.
As Will.i.am put it best with the Muppets from Sesame Street, there’s nothing I can’t achieve, because in myself I believe!
Perhaps I’m taking the career fair a bit too seriously, but I jump at any chance I have to influence young people to make the most of their lives. And that’s a life’s lesson we can all apply. No matter where we are or what we’ve done, the future is ours to create!