This experience I’ve had as the BookNet intern has been wonderful in many ways: geeky, friendly, professional, and full of networking goodness. I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity and want to share with you how some of the things I’ve done and learned are going to change me forever.
My main role was to be the research intern, meaning I would pull data from consumer data reports and SalesData to show that the behaviour of book buyers is not only interesting, but can also inform publishing professionals about the nature of the business. This work will help so many industry professionals, but it also helped me by unmasking all the things I didn’t know that were keeping me from fully interacting with the data.
Along with preparing research reports, blogs, and infographics, I was given the opportunity to work with our Project Manager, Neha, on a project involving the BiblioShare Webform, a web tool that allows small operations to create and manage metadata without messing around with complex ONIX files. This was one of the big hurdles for me—before coming to BookNet, ONIX was one of the skills I really wanted to learn. But it terrified me because I knew that ONIX was one of the gateway drugs to knowing everything about how publishers, retailers, and libraries systematically communicate book content. Luckily, Neha patiently supported me while I mapped the links between our product and the dreaded ONIX monster. Let’s just say, I slayed it and ONIX will forever be a cute, cuddly bunny rabbit from here on out.
One of the most surprising things I got to take part in was the actual development and improvement of BookNet products. Imagine that; I got to contribute to the improvement of CataList’s new ordering feature for buyers and sales reps by reviewing it in its development phase and suggesting changes. Also, I tested the new export to PDF function, which turned out fantastic.
Bibliographic data was one of the high points of my internship. (I’m being serious.) The thing about BiblioShare is that it covers so many parts of the book business that the condensed period of time I spent sifting through data and calling out errors actually taught me more than the other work I did that spanned several weeks.
So, after nearly six months, the skills I have taken away from my time at BookNet are invaluable: I learned how to not be afraid of data and ONIX; I experienced being part of project management and contributing to one aspect of a final product; I filled holes in parts of metadata and distribution details that were wrong or incomplete; and I haven’t even mentioned my (non-hostile) takeover of the @BNCCatalist Twitter account or my failed attempts at mastering schema validation. It’s been a hoot and I’m sad to go, but it’s like they say: greener pastures or something.
To the next wide-eyed intern: whatever it is you want to learn here, just ask and you’ll be given the tools. I did, and I wouldn’t change a thing.