[I’m INFECTED: Life As a Virus, Inc. Intern] Making Peace With My Inner Geek – The Intern Has a Moment of Self-Discovery

Update 2/3!  I’m going to keep this shorter than the last one, because I have three pitches tomorrow and I need my sleep.  Just yesterday, I made a client call, only to have said client (a friend of mine) tell me “Are you okay?  You look tired.”

…Ah thesis, ye robber of youth and beauty!  But that’s a topic for another time, and one I’d much rather not talk about until April 15 is long behind me.  Back to the short update!  *flails frantically*

Despite being Asian, I have never been one to buy into the stereotype of being “good with numbers.”  In fact, for the majority of my academic life, I’ve hated them.  Severely.  With a passion.  Ironically, I became a Management major (numbers galore!), but being in tertiary education means that one is allowed technological aids like calculators and Excel which, while not making the job of crunching numbers any more appealing, have at least made it easier.

Part of the reason why I went into Marketing was the thought that I wouldn’t have to deal with numbers as much (though for every marketing-related project I’ve been given, I’ve always been the one saddled with the Excel-work, in the end).  I always thought the discipline trafficked in stories, not numbers, something that my IMC friends always seemed quick to back up–after all, we MScM kids had twelve accounting/finance-related units, while they had three (or six?  I forget.).

So imagine my surprise though when I entered Virus and promptly carved myself a niche…hunting down statistics.

I like statistics.

Okay, fine, I’ll admit–I’m still nowhere near the hard-core number crunching an Asian is supposed to be.  After all, I’m not the one actually running the statistical data.  But I am analyzing it, and I’ve found that I’m fascinated at how plain old market research figures can spin into a story.  See, part of every marketing plan–and aligned with the overall strategy–is a scan of the landscape: in my case, the digital landscape, for any given demographic which the campaign is intended to target.  These figures justify certain approaches, point to specific channels, and even reveal consumer behavior, which in turn becomes part of the execution.  Also, at times, we use them to prove the efficacy of digital, which to many traditional corporations is still a mystery at best, at worst an employee time-waster.

Fortunately, these corporations are turning around, thanks in no small part to the data I mine and make sense of as part of my unofficial position as “competitive scanner/digital landscape girl” when it comes to deck-work.  This isn’t the only thing I do–I help come up with content, help conceptualize executions, and as soon as I can update to the new Maverick OS and new Keynote, will start “beautifying” presentations in full gear again–but it’s become a part of deck-making I enjoy.  I’ve even joked that I’m half-sold on Analytics, to which our Analytics head Duqs responded by showing me an Excel spreadsheet full of raw insights data.

…I nearly fainted.  Give me graphs instead, any day!

In many ways, my dealing in data makes me feel like the unofficial liaison between the storytelling universe that is Marketing and the more hard-lined, profit-driven territory of my Management degree.  I’m learning–by no means good at it yet–to turn our marketing strategies–the stories by which all campaigns are governed–back into numbers, with the added challenge of making those numbers visually appealing in a deck, as befitting a marketing agency.

So while to a hardened statistician, what I do is child’s play…I’m finding it’s a fun, brain candy-generating, and eternally interesting part of my work.  And while I might never want to be the one doing the primary research myself (okay, that’s not quite true–the only thing I loathe about my thesis is that I have to put all the data in academic paper form; if I had to deck the thing I think I’d be all right), the task of looking for secondary research, of finding the numbers that fit, and using numbers to explain why campaigns do or don’t work, is quite all-right with me!

All right, so that’s 2/4!  Halfway there!  Just two more!  Gosh, it’s getting late.



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