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  • UCA undergraduate student, Zarrina Gafurova, had the opportunity of a lifetime to complete her internship at Nielsen Admosphere in Prague (Czech Republic) as part of UCA's Cooperative Education Programme.
Zarrina Gafurova: learning to analyse TV audiences

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 their field of study across private, public and community-based sectors. This story was written by Zarrina Gafurova as part of a series of personal reflections from UCA students on their internship experiences.

My journey started with a simple desire to explore something unfamiliar and move beyond my comfort zone. And what could be more offbeat than data science for a media student, who knows how to juggle words… but 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. It is one of the leading agencies in its field and has developed a measurement methodology that is widely used in the Czech Republic. Through the UCA co-operative programme, I had the chance to apply for an internship in the company’s headquarters in Prague. The three-month mandatory internship allows UCA students to put theory into practice. 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 during the internship. In the beginning, I had a hard time using the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) programme, understanding the logic of most of the work I was doing, and in general sinking into statistical thinking. Especially, as someone who does not have a mathematical background, I faced more difficulties than someone with good knowledge of math. 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 research projects, worked on Lego Data, helped with TV audience measurement projects in Bulgaria and Poland, and worked daily on the Kyrgyz project. 

One of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed this internship was because of the 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 the streets of Milan, shopped in the malls of Dresden, partied in Berlin. And during three months, I woke up to Prague sunrises. If that wasn’t the summer of my life, then what was it?

This story was adapted from an article published on the UCA website.