Zarrina Gafurova: Never Imagined I’d be doing my internship in Prague, let alone with the Data Science team at Nielsen

Date: 09 October 2019
Other languages: Русский язык |
The University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Co-operative Education Programme offers work placements to students where they apply in-class learning to real life professional experiences within the field of study across private, public, and community-based sectors. This story was written by Zarrina Gafurova as part of series of personal reflections from UCA students on their internship experiences.

My journey started with a simple desire to explore something unfamiliar and challenge my comfort zone. And what can be more offbeat than data science for a media student, who knows how to juggle words than numbers? This is how I ended up doing an internship in one of the leading media research companies in the world.

Nielsen Admosphere, part of the Nielsen family, is a research agency that offers a wide portfolio of products and services, such as electronic television audience measurement. They are one of the leading agencies in their field and have developed their measurement methodology that is widely used in the Czech Republic, a country where the agency’s headquarter is based. 
Through the co-operative programme of UCA, I had the chance to apply for an internship to this company in Prague (Czech Republic). The Co-op programme of UCA is a three-month mandatory internship programme that allows students to put into practice their obtained knowledge at UCA. Moreover, students gain professional supervision, learn workplace ethics, obtain valuable lessons and most importantly get a chance to explore their interests, enhance their professional skills and discover new interests.

At Nielsen Admosphere, my responsibilities as an intern with a data science team included research analysis, data computation and interpretation. I was part of the TV audience measurement project that Nielsen Admosphere is currently running in Kyrgyzstan, which aims to better understand the audience’s viewing preferences. 

Of course, no road comes without bumps. I had my ups and downs while doing an internship. In the beginning, I had a hard time using the SPSS programme, understanding the logic of most of the work I was doing, and in general to sink into statistical thinking. Especially, as someone who does not have a mathematical background, I faced more difficulties than someone with good knowledge of math. Certainly those math courses which I took at UCA as part of our curriculum were very much helpful.
Every day I learned something new. I improved my skills in Excel and learned how to work in SPSS. I practiced with data analysing, working with datasets, computing and formatting new variables, filters, weighting, custom tables, advanced functions and visualisations in Excel: lookup functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, advanced charts and much more. I had the opportunity to work with real data and contribute to the project, which I believe was the best part of it all.

As a result, I translated eight documents from English to Russian, completed numerous researches, worked on Lego Data, helped with TV audience measurement projects of Bulgaria and Poland, and worked daily on the Kyrgyz project.  

One of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed this internship was because of people who surrounded me. There were multiple occasions when I needed help, and there was always more than one person ready to assist and mentor me. Undoubtedly, I will miss my daily lunches with colleagues, their mathematical jokes, and of course their boost of motivation.

My summer indeed was full of colours. I visited my dream city, Venice, walked through streets of Milan, shopped in the malls of Dresden, partied in Berlin. And during the last three months, I woke up to Prague sunrises. If that wasn’t the summer of life, then what was it?
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