We’ve had a great month of student interviews and hope you have enjoyed them. You can review all of the fall interviews here. Closing out this last week of November, here is Nathan Heep! Nathan is a second year master’s student studying information architecture and user experience (UX) at the iSchool.
Where is your internship and what do you do?
I work as a taxonomic intern for the e-commerce data company, Edgecase. My job is to classify product data for efficient human curation.
What drew you to this internship?
- I was enrolled in Dr. Anderson’s Science Data Informatics course last Spring and spent a great deal of time researching how to use taxonomic and ontological concepts in business practices. I wrote a research report on using the XBRL ontology for financial reporting and recognized different ways to leverage linked data in various contexts. I began looking for work in the area of taxonomy and Edgecase had an open position. I had knowledge of classification and taxonomic work from prior experience at an archaeological research center, so the position seemed like a good fit.
What have you enjoyed most about your internship?
Pretty much everything. The work itself is demanding and difficult, but exciting and rewarding too. I enjoy working in fast paced environments where I feel the work I produce makes a positive impact for the company as well as our customers.
What have you learned from your internship?
- I’ve learned a lot about managing expectations both for the clients and for the business, how to maintain deadlines amid rapidly changing and aggressive priorities, and how to leverage other departments and roles to most efficiently complete a task. In terms of specifics, I’ve spent a great deal of time researching and developing a global library of products for classification and curation purposes, reviewing the information lifecycle of a given bit of data here at Edgecase, and the various strategies on how to take the IP forward. Something a little new each week.
What skills, knowledge or experience did you develop in a class that you have used at this internship?
Oh, quite a bit. Concepts from courses on design thinking, interaction design, project development, and user experience come into play daily, as we’re constantly thinking of new ways to interact with clients and customers. My role directly concerns the information architecture of our platform, where I have brought in concepts I’ve learned from courses on IA, database management, data wrangling, and science data informatics. I’ve brought in a considerable amount of my taxonomic and classification experience as well. I would say that by and large, many courses at the iSchool have influenced my decision making processes on a variety of levels.
How did you find this internship position? What resources did you use?
I found the internship on the iSchools career website.
When did you begin searching for an internship and how long did it take to find this position?
I started looking around late February and was hired early June, so a few months I would say.
Is there a class that you’d recommend to students interested in developing the skills needed to work in a similar internship/position?
- For this type of position, definitely a background in classification or archiving is a plus. In general, I would just keep an open mind when learning about new or alternative ways of thinking in your courses. You never know when a new bit of information will become useful.
What advice would you give other students searching for an internship or work opportunity?
Keep looking and use your background to your advantage. I did not get hired at Edgecase because I was a taxonomist, but because I was able to leverage my background and skills in a way that made sense for the company’s needs. If you aren’t a designer and you are applying for a design internship, don’t try to make yourself seem more “designy” because you think it is necessary to land the role. Often employers are looking for that alternative perspective that makes you unique, and trying to shoehorn your past skills into something you are not is less valuable than spelling out exactly what your background and skills allow you to do. You are your own best advocate, so be yourself.
That’s excellent advice, Nathan!