By Jessica Bland
What is it like to work for a vendor? What is it like to telecommute (which is something I am asked quite often)? How do vendors interact with the information industry?
I left my position as an Information Specialist for a pharmaceutical company about fourteen months ago after working there for five years. When I told my vendors at the time of my career move, many of them said something along the lines of welcome to the “dark side”.
I am now an Implementation Specialist with Infotrieve, a company with diverse services. My position includes establishing accounts, training administrators and performing quality assurance testing of our new releases for our Mobile Library product, a system that offers integrated collection management and document delivery services in a copyright-compliant manner.
To answer my earlier questions, overall I find that my clients are congenial, intelligent people, and I enjoy a collegial relationship with them during the implementation process. I fully recall how I instantly felt more comfortable when my vendor was previously an information professional, and I make a point of starting with my history in the profession when introducing myself.
Having come from the corporate environment, I do not find working for a vendor to be very different from my previous position. However, it was strange to stand in the booth this year at SLA rather than being an attendee. Also, I am fortunate that my supervisor also has her MLIS, but I do miss having the routine collaboration with other information professionals to discuss the changes and trends in information industry.
The largest change was telecommuting every day. I had worked remotely twice a month during the last year at my office, but this is the first time that I have been a remote employee full time. Luckily, many of our employees are remote, which means that our corporate culture is oriented around remote employees. However, as I often tell people who ask, if it is a day when I do not have a lot of meetings (and a typical day can include three to four hours of webinars), I do catch myself calling my colleagues to ask questions that I could get answered via email or chat just to talk to someone. Overall, though, if you are wondering if you could “make it” telecommuting, I would say that if you can work independently at the office, you will find it is just as easy to do so from a home office.
I enjoy being on an “alternate” career path. Vendors are not fully removed from the information community, so I have an opportunity to speak with a variety of professionals. I have the option to see where there are similarities among resource centers and where they each have their distinctive solutions to common problems. Though I know that conferences strive to share this information, in reality often companies prefer their staff not share anything that may be construed as proprietary, limiting some of the value of the formal panels and increasing the value of more informal discussions (parties, breakfasts, breakout sessions, etc.) at the conference.
Overall, I have enjoyed my time as a vendor and look forward to the upcoming years. If you enjoy the interactive (marketing) portion of being an Info Pro, you might consider a career as a vendor and join us on the “dark side”.
Jessica Bland is an Implementation Specialist with Infotrieve, a company that offers a content management and document delivery platform, reprints services, collection management and staffing services.