When one hears the word “intern,” it can be easy to picture a harried college student scuttling around with a tray of coffee in one hand and an armful of papers trailing from the crook of an elbow like autumn leaves.
I won’t say this image is entirely unfounded. I worked an internship this past summer in New York City that never got more exciting than buying a phone battery and ordering shelves, but these stereotypes do not hold true with SIBA.
From the moment I interviewed with Wanda Jewell, I knew that an internship with SIBA was an internship I wanted. By the end of April, I was told I had gotten one of two slots. The other SIBA intern was my college suitemate, Raney Simmon. Together, we made plans to work with Jewell beginning in the fall.
We started in September, and the first month was a flurry of packing, printing, and preparing. Our work culminated in a trip to Norfolk, Virginia; as SIBA’s interns, we would have the chance to attend our first trade show.
As a first-time attendee, I made it my sworn duty to grab every galley I found, to speak to every author I saw, and to see every panel I possibly could. I absorbed the experience like a particularly enthusiastic sponge; from breakfast at 7:30 A.M. until dinner at 7 P.M., I was on the exhibition floor and in the panel rooms, watching, listening, and talking to those around me.
It was one of the most amiable atmospheres I have ever been in, a crowd of friendly people all devoted to learning more about supporting their businesses and spreading a love of books throughout their communities. Independent booksellers are creative in their business and fiercely protective of each other, sharing a comradery I haven’t seen outside of this industry- our industry.
The trade show came with its responsibilities for interns, but my work was just as enjoyable as my exploration. Interviewing authors about their upcoming books was an opportunity I still can’t quite believe I got to experience, despite the wall of signed galleys lining my desk as a mountainous pile of proof.
The trade show was a weekend of excitement that our mentor allowed us to experience at our own pace. However, even as the one in charge of making sure all the cogs of the trade show worked together seamlessly, Jewell still found time to ask us, always with a smile, “How’s everything going?”
Though we were tired and our feet hurt and the bags of books on our arms were perpetually approaching critical mass, Raney and I always responded truthfully:
This internship is amazing.