Day in the Life: Associate Manager, Innovation Analytics at Nielsen

What’s life like at a leading global provider of information and analytics around consumer behavior, also known as Nielsen? Join alum, Sarada Bheemineni, SEAS ’10, on Tuesday, February 11th when she tweets for @PennCareerDay.  Learn about her career with Nielsen, advice for joining the field of consumer behavior and analytics, and understand what it’s like to be part of the Nielsen team. Did you know that Nielsen will be at the Spring Career Fair? Well, if you didn’t, this is a really great opportunity to help you prep for a visit to the Nielsen table, too.  To learn more about Sarada, read her bio below. Don’t forget to follow her on the 11th, either!

SaradaSarada Bheemineni is an Associate Manager, Innovation Analytics at Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around consumer behavior.  In her role, Sarada advises clients on their brand and innovation strategy using data-driven insights.  This involves consulting clients on category and marketplace trends, as well as drivers of global consumer demand.  Key clients include Colgate-Palmolive, Hershey, and PepsiCo.

Sarada has been with Nielsen since graduating from Penn in 2010, where she studied Materials Science and Engineering and Economics.  Sarada currently lives in New York City and in her free time enjoys running, exploring the city, traveling to other countries, and watching Mad Men.

Timing may not be all, but it’s important

In November we completed our career plans survey of the class of 2013. We had a tremendous return: 2,021 graduates responded, just over 80% of the class. A return this high is a reflection of the graduates’ willingness to let us know what they’re doing, but it also reflects the huge amount of work people in Career Services do to reach out and cajole those we hadn’t heard from. I am grateful to all.

The results are extremely encouraging for current seniors. The members of the class of 2013 were employed full time at a high rate (almost 74%), up from 71% last year and 68% for 2011. Slightly fewer (16%) are going directly to graduate school, down from 18% last year and 20% in 2011. For the last two years 6% of the class reported that they were seeking employment by the November closing of the survey. This year, only 5.8% were still seeking, an extremely low number. The lowest we have recorded was 4% in pre-recessionary 2007.

The employment by industry changes are worth noting. For example, the percentage of the full-time employed graduates working in finance dropped from 33% in 2011, to 31% in 2012, to 29% this year. Health care dropped to 6%; it was 9% the past two years. Consulting remains very popular: 19% are working in consulting, down from 20% last year but equal to the 19% in 2011. Similarly, education was the choice of 9%, up from 8% last year and equaling the 9% in 2011. Technology took 9% of those employed, up from 8% last year and 7% in 2011. These industry swings are modest, but interesting.

Medicine and law remain the most popular graduate school choices, but fewer students are going directly into these programs each year. Of those who are in graduate school, 21% are in medicine, down from 22% last year and 25% in 2011. Law dropped from 19% in 2011 to 18% in 2012 to 17% this year. Engineering graduate fields jumped from 14% in 2011 to 17% for the second year in a row. The biggest change was in science. Those pursuing graduate degrees in science disciplines jumped from 8% in 2011, to 9% in 2012 to 14% this year. Clearly the demand for STEM graduates is influencing graduate school choices.

For more information on the class of 2013, including top employers and top graduate schools, please see Combined with the decline in the national unemployment rate (it’s now 7%, a five year low), the survey results mean that seniors should feel confident that job opportunities will be available to them. It’s a good year to be graduating and starting a career.

The Complexity of Career Planning

puzzlepiecesI’m currently studying complexity theory, the way “patterns emerge through the interaction of many agents.”* Because the actors and issues and environment continually change, patterns also change as they emerge, stabilize, and then perhaps dissipate. Observation and flexibility are the keys here.

This seems particularly applicable to planning and navigating careers. Since everything is in flux—organizations, technology, economies, the environment, politics, relationships, and YOU—we’re aiming at moving targets. Preparation for a career can take years as we study, develop skills, and gain experience. When we finally get “there,” the “there” has likely changed.

So in order to prepare for the evolving and complex landscape of the future, developing the skills of observing, learning, and adapting is critical. “Probing” is key. Your liberal arts education at the University of Pennsylvania provides a foundation for this perspective. I encourage you to observe, question, discuss, and engage as often as possible. In the realm of career planning, this means opening up to a range of options. If you have already identified a career goal, plan for it and pursue it while simultaneously continuing to learn about other opportunities and how they are similar to or differ from your initial focus. If you are exploring career options or haven’t yet begun to do so, jump in and learn about career possibilities in every setting. Pay attention to the work that people do and ask them questions about it. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, do it! And talk to others who also do it to see if/how they’ve used their skills in professional settings.

The best tactic, the one that will help you adapt to how the future unfolds, is to explore.


*From Kurtz, C.F., Snowden, D. J. “The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-Making in a Complex and Complicated World,” in IBM Systems Journal (42:3), 2003.

How is this year different?

Another start of another school year. What is different this time? Aside from the fact that we are starting a week earlier, the obvious answer is that you (in fact all of us) are a year older. We should be wiser, we should be more mature. Second, you are that much closer to graduation, and your future. If you will be finishing up in 2014, you should be thinking about career matters. You may be focused on finding a job, getting into a good graduate or professional school program, getting a prestigious fellowship, or if you are a doctoral student, perhaps finding a post-doc. Even those who will be graduating at a later time may be starting to think about internships for next summer.

This is all well and good. Things here get off to a quick start. Our employer presentations begin tonight. Our workshops have already started. You can’t say, as you may have in years past, that Career Services is for another time. Now is the time for many of you. Take advantage of all we have to offer, now and throughout the year.

So get going, but at the same time, relax. If you are like your Penn predecessors, you will do well, regardless of your path. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, you are not competing with your classmates. You are competing with young people throughout our country, and others well beyond our borders. You may also be competing with new technologies that are changing the nature of many jobs. Cheaper labor abroad can do many jobs more cheaply, even professional level jobs requiring graduate training. Sophisticated computer programs, using enormous data sets, have reduced the need for people in some positions or fields. Think about where you can make a contribution in this global economy. Don’t be afraid to dream. And don’t worry too much about where you start: a first job is a first job, the first of many you will hold.

Second, don’t go about your career preparation with sharp elbows. I am reminded of last spring’s commencement address at Syracuse University, where the author George Saunders urged the graduates to be kind. It’s worth saying even before graduation: be nice to each other. (The text of the speech is available on the New York Times site, but it’s been hacked. Take a minute to find it if you can; it’s a great speech.) As Einstein is reported to have said, “everything that counts cannot be counted.” Being kind really counts. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s important.

On behalf of everyone in Career Services, all the best for a great semester.

What’s Next?

Classes end today. Final papers, projects and exams await. And then comes summer. If you are beginning a job or an internship, please remember this message from Tom Friedman of The New York Times, who recently spoke here at Penn: “The world does not care what you know, it only cares what you do with what you know.”

As you start this next chapter, realize that you must demonstrate what you can do with all you have learned up to this point. Your Penn education can only take you so far. Once you are in the door, it is your responsibility to make the most of whatever position you have. Now is your opportunity to demonstrate all that you have learned, both inside the classroom, and in your other endeavors. This includes both academic content, and the more general, soft skills that can make or break a new hire, such as teamwork, initiative, communication skills, and punctuality.

A job or internship is a new beginning. Do all you can to get off to a good start. Show them what you can do with what you know. Good luck; have a great summer.