Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Data Coordinator

According to a study conducted by Rutger’s University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development in May 2011, 44% of college graduates said the first job they obtained after graduating was closely related to their area of study.

This is actually quite common nowadays. Just take Cameron Naish, a CU alumnus who graduated in summer 2010 with a degree in news-editorial journalism, a minor in Technology, Arts and Media, and two internships at 5280 Magazine and Delicious Living Magazine.

Cameron currently works at Educational Measures, a Denver-based company that creates products and services designed to help companies utilize their content and data. Even though his degree and internships were in journalism, Cameron says they helped him prepare for his present job by teaching him how to maintain a good working relationship with coworkers, network, and be self-motivated.

“When it comes to internships, they’re all going to supply life lessons, new skills and opportunities in one way or another, it’s just up to the intern to find out how,” he said. “They don’t necessarily spoon-feed you lessons or skills like the classroom is designed to do, you have to go out there and find what you want out of internships yourself.”

As a Data Coordinator at Educational Measures, part of Cameron’s job involves traveling 60,000 miles per year to educational conferences in 23 cities all across the U.S. When a provider wants to organize a conference, they ask a pharma company to help them fund it. Once they have organized the conference, Cameron flys out to attend it and asks attendees questions that they answer using a device similar to an iClicker. By the end of the conference, it’s expected that attendees should get more right answers, proving the educational program was effective. During that time, Cameron’s coworkers back at the office put that conference data into a system so the given provider can demonstrate to the pharma company that this particular conference was worth funding, in addition to future conferences.

Cameron started working at Educational Measures during his sophomore year at CU, when he says some high school connections helped him get his job as a contractor at the company. By maintaining the connections he made and working hard at Educational Measures, Cameron was hired full-time by spring break of his senior year in college, and started his full-time job the Monday after graduation!

What does a day in Cameron’s life look like?
> At 7:00 a.m., Cameron wakes up. By 8:00 a.m., he’s at work.
> At 8:30 a.m., he has a morning meeting.
> At 9:00 a.m., Cameron catches up on client emails.
> At 10:00 a.m., he inputs some data into Educational Measures’ systems for pharma companies, who help supply the grants that fund the conferences they attend.
> At 11:00 a.m., he inputs some data into their systems from companies that run meetings.
> At 12:00 p.m., he takes a break for lunch, and by 1:00 p.m., he’s responding to more emails.
> From 3:00 p.m. until he leaves work at 5:00 p.m., organizes files, follows-up on outstanding items, works on company newsletter, sets up travel meetings, and more.
> After work, Cameron has dinner, hangs out with friends, writes posts for his blog, http://www.funnyfollowsform.com, and enjoys his free time.

What’s ahead for Cameron?
Although Cameron says he loves his current job, he also hopes to enhance his Adobe skills in the future by getting involved in more graphic design, as well as writing more.

“I am a very creative person at heart, and if I don’t do something creative at least once a day, I feel like I wasted the day,” Cameron said. “Honestly, happiness is my future goal; what needs to happen to fulfill that goal is still in the works.“

What advice do you have for CU students that are job hunting right now?
“I’d suggest that students take what they can get and make the most of it. […] At the end of the day, everything is an experience and a learning opportunity; so don’t spend too much time complaining about what comes your way or what doesn’t. Obviously, everyone should have goals and strive to get the best internship he or she can, but don’t miss out on other opportunities because it “isn’t good enough” or less-than-stellar. […] Hard work, dedication and a smile does not go unrecognized for long, and if you can build a strong reputation and network early on, it will prove useful until you retire.“

I highly recommend people work for smaller companies early in their careers. It is a great place to learn, take on a variety of tasks and meet cool people without feeling underappreciated. Smaller companies require more responsibility and accountability, which is great to learn early on, and I am thankful I’m not just another suit-and-tie in a cubicle.“