To be the Blackwell’s intern…

There are three main privileges for the events and marketing intern during the everyday Blackwell’s day. Firstly, a seat right next to the printer means that little movement is required in times of document hard copying. The box of crisps placed in the corner of the office ensures no strain is required to get your daily salt fix and the kitchen, complete with ‘hydroboil’ machine, means a cup of tea is only ever seconds away. However, these logistical perks are among the few things that breed consistency during the working week at Blackwell’s. Amidst the hectic schedule of a varied workload I engaged with a series of challenging tasks which extended far beyond the job description and drew on all skill sets.

I often found myself hurtling from the top floor to the basement (after the initial “this-place-is-huge!” bearings-based confusion subsided) to manage all manner of things: arranging displays, organising events, questing for books. The rest of my time would be spent at the desk working on blog pieces, press releases, poster ads, emails, tweets, product research, presentations and the odd bit of googling.

The events themselves ranged from an informal cocktail evening to the opening ceremony for Blackwell’s Wantage. In attendance of ten events across ten weeks, I came to understand the necessary preparation. So much work is done far in advance to ensure a hiccup free evening, from establishing time and place, organising ticket sales and one-off promotions, checking there is enough space/furniture/drinking glasses, to sometimes even making travel arrangements for the speaker. Then there is the last minute prep, left for the day of (in the case of arranging seating) or sometimes until just moments before (in the case of pouring wine or ensuring the speaker is happy and relaxed). Of all the events my favourite would have to be Owen Jones: ‘Chavs’. It was a normal Blackwell’s author talk but Jones was lovely and gave a lucid and entertaining speech with an equally enjoyable Q & A session (although my meeting with Peppa Pig is a really close second).

Spending time in the temporary Christmas shop in Wantage gave me something else to get excited about. I learnt how to manage a small and temporary space; gained experience in handling events in a different environment; began to appreciate the effect of the different cliental, location and store size; and even made decisions regarding suitable stock. Other important areas of business were uncovered as I breached the threshold into the world of business meetings. Sitting in on and sometimes partaking in these meetings (for example, a routine meet-up with OUP’s head of publicity and Blackwell’s own review of it’s events programme) was an eye-opening privilege. It enhanced my understanding of inter-company relations, standard procedures, targets and much much more.

I have also been fortunate enough to work part time in the literature and language department during my stay. From this I became better able draw connections between the departments and in doing so enhanced my understanding of the company as a whole. The position also meant I was introduced to more of the supportive network of Blackwell’s staff. The entire events team, the admin staff, and the lit-lang staff made working as an intern and a bookseller more than a challenging experience. With their guidance and their advice at my disposal I was able to significantly develop my skills and knowledge of the workplace which is exactly what I set out to do when I applied for the internship.

 

Heather Kimpton
Events and Marketing Intern…for only 10 more minutes

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