Alumni Connection Panelist: Victoria Tsay

victoria tsay

Victoria is a 2013 alumnus in Communication Studies and Statistics. Currently, she stands as an Emerging Leaders Associate at Nielsen in Chicago, IL. Prior to Nielsen, she interned at IBM and Mochi Magazine. As a part of Nielsen’s rotational leadership program, Victoria works on 6-month projects in the television and online measurement space, and most recently finished a client service rotation with Facebook.

Q: Tell us a bit about the path you took to get where you are.

Victoria Tsay: After graduation, I joined Nielsen’s leadership development program which consists of four intensive projects in varying parts of the company. Over two years, my experiences have ranged from enhancing Nielsen’s TV Ratings business in Tampa, to building relations with our strategic partner Facebook in San Francisco, and now I’m project managing the release of a new digital measurement product in Chicago.

Q: When did you know what field you wanted to go into? What experiences led you there?

VT: My freshman year, I didn’t even realize studying TV was an actual major – it wasn’t until my English professor commented on my final paper to explore a Communications major when I thought I’d take a couple classes. Since then, I’ve become fascinated by the media industry but realized my strength is truly gaining a technical understanding, recognizing its business impact, and then translating it into something tangible for everybody to understand. I saw so many parallels between my Stats classes and Comm classes that I recognized there was an opportunity to take my statistical background and apply it to advertising – I just didn’t quite know what was out there. My genuine interest in combining the two majors led to an internship with IBM and eventually Nielsen. Now I realize statistics, big data, and market research are at the core of advertising, and are driving the growth of large digital companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Q: What UM classes or extracurricular activities did you find particularly helpful in your job field?

VT: My favorite Comm professors are Amanda Lotz, Scott Campbell, Russell Neuman, and Jennifer Ashman (Ross). In addition to teaching relevant material, they encouraged research assignments and paper topics that I leveraged during interviews to demonstrate industry understanding. For extracurriculars, I was heavily involved in my cultural sorority Kappa Phi Lambda, Multicultural Greek Council, and Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association– although it’s a smaller community, they truly gave me the leadership opportunities to make the strongest impact.

Q: Describe a day-in-the-life at work:

VT: Luckily, no day is the same and every project has been vastly different – since January, my days have included: hosting conference calls across the country to develop new methodologies, recoding a script in R, planning a two-week training for international audiences to share knowledge, winning a Digital Hackathon event, preparing to present my research at an industry conference, collaborating with peers on real-world case studies, and gaining weight after eating at Facebook’s campus every day.

Q: What is one of the best, as well as one of the most challenging, aspects of your work?

VT: The people – I truly believe I work with the smartest and most diverse people in the industry. However, it can be challenging when you have too many cooks in the kitchen and everybody wants to run in their own direction. Herding everybody towards the same goal is challenging, but always rewarding.

Q: What is one of the most memorable moments you have had at work?

VT: After our first year in the program, we report our individual progress to all the managers and senior leaders. It was incredibly nerve-racking for me to stand in the front of a room, be recorded on video, and present everything I’ve done in a 10-minute PowerPoint and Q&A session. As I finished, my peers were all smiling at me and my manager gave me a big thumbs up. Later he told me a particularly hard director just nodded her head and told him, “Yeah, I’d hire her.” Knowing that I’d built such a strong support system in just under a year felt incredible.

Q: Provide a piece of advice for students working towards internships and full-time opportunities in the communications field.

VT: Stay humble, stay hungry.

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