By Joe Jabbour
As a product summer intern on the Business & Organizations Team in Content & Development, I spent the last three months assessing Gale’s business content and resources. I’m excited to tell you all about the fun, intellectual work I accomplished at Gale.
How I Got to Gale
I got this internship, and a couple of other job offers, through the Winter 2016 Career Fair at Wayne State. This turned out to be pretty funny because, ultimately, the two offers that I was seriously considering were from Gale, a part of Cengage Learning and Thomson Reuters— which used to be Cengage’s parent company. I definitely feel like I made the right decision, because the alternative would have been to be a call center agent; whereas here at Gale, I actually got to do some cool, intellectual work to actually make a difference in a company.
What I Accomplished at Gale
The primary objective of my internship was to analyze and assess Gale’s business content and resources, then give recommendations regarding things like:
- Product Improvement
- International Growth
- New Products
- Licensing Program Growth
- Competitive Advantage
So during my time here at Cengage I did a lot of work with a bunch of different people, but I mainly worked with my team on my two main projects:
- An analysis and assessment of Gale’s online business resources
- An analysis and assessment of Encyclopedia of Associations’ competitors
Project One: Business Resource Analysis
For my first project I basically analyzed Gale’s business resources from a student and aspiring business owner’s perspective, and then provided recommendations for improvement. I focused heavily on the following Gale products: Business Insights, DemographicsNow: Business & People, Gale Directory Library (GDL), and Small Business Resource Center (SBRC). I started this project by learning about all of Gale’s business resources, after which, I compiled the information I learned into an Excel spreadsheet, to easily compare and contrast. The next step is where I assessed the products and, essentially tried to identify gaps and make recommendations for improvement. So the final output for this project included:
- An analysis spreadsheet for Gale’s products with some of the criteria being:
- Accuracy of Content
- Currency Content
- Scope of Coverage
- Growth Opportunities
- An assessment of each product’s strengths and weaknesses
- Recommendations for product improvement
- New product ideas
- A Survey which I created and administered
- Exposing students to Gale’s business resources earlier, so making sure students are aware of what they are and are using them throughout college (vs hearing about them after college)
- To increase or extend the geographic coverage of Gale’s business resources to other countries (in products like DemographicsNow)
- Incorporate more interactivity to existing content (the comparison charts in Business Insights where you can choose what companies or industries you want to compare and essentially manipulate the data to fit peoples’ preferences/needs)
- To supplement Cengage Learning’s textbooks and resources like Aplia and MindTap with Gale’s real world content
- Social network for small business owners
- Supplemental resource/product for high school and university business courses
I made a survey to help me get a better picture of students’ use of libraries and their level of knowledge and understanding of Gale’s products. I created this survey through Google Forms and administered it to WSU business students. I actually had some interesting findings:
- 73% of students used Google instead of authoritative sources of information
- 96% of students knew of Cengage Learning, but only 25% of students knew of Gale and its library resources, and even less had actually used them
- In a web resource, 76% of students said they highly valued easy access and that simple, clean and intuitive user interfaces (UIs) are very important
Project Two: Encyclopedia of Associations Competition Analysis
My goal for this project, similar to the first one, was to compile information on competitor sources of associations content, compare and contrast them against GDL‘s Encyclopedia of Associations, and provide recommendations for improvement. So the final output for this project was:
- An Analysis Spreadsheet, with some of the criteria being
- Accuracy and Currency of content
- Unique features
- Product recommendations (like adding form 990 pictures and a rating system for the legitimacy of nonprofits and charities)
My Experience at Gale
It was honestly fantastic; I learned so much. I love gaining knowledge, because it opens my mind up to new ways of thinking and ideas that I would have never had without that knowledge. Every day I learned about something new, one day it was “What is this product? And how do I use it?” or “How does Google analytics work?” and the next day was me being in a team meeting seeing how teams deal with problems. Everyone I met at Gale was really nice, they were all helpful and understanding. Like I said earlier, I just loved the company culture here at Gale, everything from the dress code and Take Your Dog to Work Day, to how people interacted with each other. I legitimately have nothing but positive opinions about Gale and I can’t really think of anything I specifically disliked, so I just feel really blessed to have this experience and to have been a part of this company.
Knowledge I Gained
I learned how to use Gale’s business resources and how useful they really are. As a student, in a corporate job or starting my own business (which I’ll eventually do), knowing how to use those resources will be so valuable. Also, how my friends, dad, and small business owners reacted to what Gale’s products are capable of was awesome—and funny. They were truly baffled that they had never heard of them before, but they could access them for free through the Michigan eLibrary (MeL).
I learned how useful libraries, in general, are, as well as how much they have to offer.
Another thing that was really cool, was that throughout my internship, I was taking a statistics class which involved surveys and analyzing them. I got to use what I learned in class and applied it in a practical way. Also, I actually took a “business communication class” that taught me how to give business presentations and the textbook was published by Cengage Learning. So I gave my first business presentation to the company that taught me how—ironic, but neat.
Because I was constantly analyzing, as well as comparing and contrasting, I enhanced my critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving skills. I wasn’t really given a specific way to accomplish the goals of my internship, so I had to piece together what kind of criteria would be most useful, and how to go about completing the projects. I had to improvise a lot and try and get information that I didn’t have access to or couldn’t find anywhere.
I also got to see what makes a big company tick. Essentially, I learned what it means to work for a company: so I experienced deadlines, saw how different teams worked together, and most importantly how everyone from the janitors to the executives have an important role. This well help me in the future immensely because I’ll kind of know how I fit into a company.
I experienced how teams from different departments come together to solve problems. I got to sit in on meetings and see how the different teams work as one to gain an effective way of solving issues. Specifically, our team and the programming team worked together to solve issues. I really learned a ton in those meetings.
I learned how much analytics can impact decisions and how important that data is. My major is Information Systems Management (ISM) and my minor is Computer Science, so when I was shown how analytical data in Google Analytics or even some basic search results could help a company, it was reassuring and inspiring. All the aforementioned skills/knowledge definitely make me feel like I’m heading in the right direction and there’s no doubt in my mind that everything I learned here will help me out in the future.
In the near future, I’m going to get a job in the next couple of weeks before I go back to school on August 31st. But in the long run I hope to graduate by 2018, with a MBA, work at a technology company for around 7 years and then start my own business. However, somewhere in between that time, I have a few app ideas in mind that I’m going to put into motion.