Did you know that Drake and Post Malone had the highest volume of on-demand audio streams of all artists in the United States? Or that 64 percent of U.S. households buy sustainable products? Nielsen, the global data measurement and analytics company, produces that data.
Before there were cable boxes that recorded what you watched, streaming services that collected your viewing history, or technologies that tracked in-store performance, direct consumer data was hard to accrue and analyze. But Nielsen helped build the foundation for companies to collect this critically important data. That, in turn, enabled them to better understand their consumers’ habits and preferences. Armed with that information, Nielsen’s clients in the media, consumer goods, and retail industries could strategize around what most resonates with their customers.
We got an inside look at the company and its elite internship program by sitting down with Mikayla Johnson, an intern on their BASES innovation team. Here’s what we learned.
Their interns do real work—right away.
When Mikayla, a rising senior and marketing major at Hampton University in Virginia, joined the Nielsen team this summer, she hit the ground running.
Soon after starting as a Commercial Demand Intern, she was doing work for clients and upper management. She uses cutting-edge tools and research methods to analyze the data that Nielsen collects to help her team’s clients better understand how their target audiences will respond to their newest products and services.
“Let’s say a major drink company has a new product they’d like to put out that has zero calories. We take picture, price, whatever they have, put it into our database, and compare it with different types of results,” Mikayla says. “We have people take surveys and things of that nature, just so we can see how this specific demographic or target group would like this product.”
And Mikayla’s not doing any coffee runs in this process, either.
“I provide research, strategic consultation, and deliverables—like decks with insights and findings—to our clients on their innovative solutions and new products. We’re giving them advice on what they should change and [what] they should keep prior to putting these products into the market,” Mikayla explains.
And her contributions really make an impact. “I’m in meetings with our actual clients. I’m able to speak on what I see after we receive the data back. And my manager will take my feedback and put it into his report for his manager. So, I know for a fact that what I’m saying is being heard and utilized,” she says.
“Your ideas and your insights will come to fruition,” Mikayla says. “Hopefully, some of the products I’m working on will hit stores in a few months. And that’s what happens here at Nielsen: They want our feedback, analysis, and assistance.”
They build massive networks (and friendships!) with their fellow interns.
“I’m working with people in a different time zone to create a proposal on how to effectively collect data from and market to Generation Z,” Mikayla says of her cross-department intern project. “We have a group of four. Two of us are in the Chicago office and two of us are in the New York office.”
Mikayla collaborates with interns who have different specialties and work across departments. She has five or six co-interns just on her team. “We have one intern on design. We also have one on the forecasting team who talks about volume, revenue, and profit. Then we have the Pricing & Portfolio teams, which talk about the best rate to set for a product,” she says.
This collaborative environment makes Mikayla and the other interns feel not only useful but also legitimately valued for their unique qualities. “We’re putting our ideas and experiences together and brainstorming the best way to do it. We’re able to use our creativity and problem-solving skills on something that will actually be utilized in the future.”
But it’s not all work.
Nielsen mixes fun and business seamlessly.
“We have intern leagues. They put on different events for us,” she says. “Today, we’re actually going to a White Sox game. We had an Escape Room—it was so much fun! Ours was zombie-themed, so we were running all over the place and really bonding.”
They also get the chance to network with interns from other offices and learn from higher-ups in the process.
“We had an intern summit that different interns flew into the Chicago office for,” Mikayla says. “We had team-building activities and personality tests. Following the workday we went out bowling for happy hour. It’s super fun. I have a great time here, and I feel included.”
And inclusion is built into the culture.
Inclusion is a big part of Nielsen’s ethos. It’s a company whose mission revolves around understanding people and accurately representing various thoughts, opinions, and insights. It’s no surprise, then, that diversity and inclusion are key drivers of growth and innovation.
Mikayla says it’s one of the company principles that she most connects with. And for her, it really clicked when she found out she could actually contribute to the process of making the company more inclusive by joining an Employee Resource Group (ERG).
“The ones I am a part of are Sustaining Active Black Leadership and Empowerment (SABLE) and Women In Nielsen (WIN). They also have groups for Asian, Hispanic, and LGBTQA employees,” among others, she adds.
Yet what most impressed Mikayla about Nielsen’s ERGs was that so many others were interested in showing up, learning, and striving to do even more to make the workplace diverse and inviting. “It’s not just for African Americans or just for women,” she says. “It’s for everyone to join and dive into this specific demographic of people and learn how they work, learn how they live on a day-to-day basis.”
Mikayla says she loves how Nielsen enables her to join groups and attend events where she can share her experiences and connect with people from all sorts of backgrounds.
For Mikayla and her fellow interns, consumer data and brand engagement have a whole new meaning.
Want to change markets (and minds)? Learn more about Nielsen on WayUp right now!