The Journey from Mechanical Engineering to Business Development & Process Design to Data Science & Analytics: My Co-op Experience with Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

My journey as an analytics co-op at Saatchi was one of exceptional discovery – about the world of data and about myself.

My co-op as a Junior Analytics Associate at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness these past six months was undoubtedly one of the most enriching and educational experiences of my college career thus far. As a fervent and curious learner, SSWAnalytics was the ideal environment for me to go beyond my ken and flourish – for which I have immense gratitude. Currently, I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Drexel University, and that accompanied with how critically valuable data has grown to become, made this experience all the more enlightening and rewarding for me.

Having already done two previous cooperative educational programs – one as a mechanical engineering intern in Philadelphia and the other as a business development and process design analyst in Singapore – I still wasn’t very sure what to expect from Saatchi as both those jobs had differed so greatly. But I did know very clearly what my goals were and what I wanted to get out of this experience; I wanted to learn, and I wanted to have a positive impact in my professional space, making the most of the network and resources I had access to. I am pleased to report that I believe I did more than I thought I could and surpassed my goals!

From the very get go, I was introduced to concepts and our team’s portfolio in a very practical and comprehensive manner, which made it considerably easier to digest a lot of information. I was able to get involved in client-related work and was working as the primary support to data scientists, data engineers, data architects and data strategists on the day-to-day rather quickly; the amount to learn was exceptionally high and full of potential.

And soon enough, I was able to contribute to the point of feeling that I was bringing in value to the team and not just following directions or reproducing existing work. Whether it be strategizing with my manager about the role of paid media efforts in driving high value actions on websites or creating tagging schemas independently to inform web analytics post a relaunch, I had plenty to get my hands dirty with. A decent chunk of my time was spent manipulating and constructing integrated marketing performance dashboards or updating monthly scorecards for selected DTC key performance indicators.


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(Left to Right) Mackenzie Gray (SSWAnalytics Intern ’18, Current Senior Analytics Associate, Data Scientist), Heidi Wu (SSWAnalytics Intern ’17, Current Senior Analytics Associate, Data Science), Christina Ho (SSWAnalytics Intern ’19), Palak Bhargava (SSWAnalytics Co-Op ’19)

I think I had my first data epiphany when I found a trend in the data I was working with and my thoughts regarding the story the numbers were telling were reinforced and bolstered by my superiors. Working directly under a data strategist allowed me to observe and learn from not only the technical skills and know-hows one needs to possess in this line of career but also the project management and leadership aspect associated with working in the professional world.

I am so appreciative to have had the opportunity to work in a collaborative analytics model, which accentuates the power of making data-backed business decisions without any siloes, and grasp the myriad of knowledge that would be bounced around by strategists during inter-agency meetings. As a co-op, especially, to hear people brainstorm and tackle very relevant business questions like, “If I had one media dollar to spend, where should it be?” or “Which media channel was successful in increasing lower- or upper- funnel activities on site?” I suddenly felt like an overexcited school kid who was eager to solve the problem first. More than anything, however, it was so truly informative in so many different ways and that can only be attributed to how embedded the use of data has become in the way the world functions today.

Just being exposed to the sheer amount of data sets, analytics tools, and data visualization platforms  that are out there was overwhelming and mind-blowing. And while it was daunting to take on assignments which would utilize these tools, the mentorship and motivation I received from the team, specifically leaders like Allegra and Kevin, drove me in the right direction. Ultimately, it became second nature for me to be assigned a task that’d involve learning something new and applying it quickly – a skill I was able to fortunately hone very well at SSWAnalytics.

It was when I started being given higher-level individual projects like performing a social listening analysis to understand sentiment around a certain brand or conducting a behavioral audit to inform user experience for another brand or designing a document highlighting the various datasets in healthcare and the respective KBQs they help answer that I felt like data had empowered me and this co-op experience had successfully transformed me to think in a more data-driven way and pay attention to the right things. I remember that feeling of enablement and will always bear in mind to leverage data to my benefit (and not at my cost).

Receiving in-depth exposure to digital analytics and data visualization equipped me with extremely valuable proficiencies and the ability to utilize tools like Google Analytics, DOMO, Google Data Studio, and NetBase very effectively and efficiently. Moreover, I got to study and analyze the effects of different media tactics like Social, Display or Paid Search and the Promotional Footprint, which is crucial for developing strategic insights, in achieving the desired business and marketing objectives. All that was contingent upon understanding the patient journey and market dynamics – another major learning curve. It was through seeing how Saatchi provides their clientele with analytics consulting services to measure past performance and predict future outcomes to finally make recommendations that’ll optimize campaigns based on those predicted results taught me an invaluable lesson on how data has become the currency and the commodity in today’s day and age.

In conclusion, I couldn’t have asked for a better final co-op.

PBhargava (2)Written by Palak Bhargava

Currently in my senior year, I am an ambitious and driven student who is pursuing a dual major in Mathematics and Engineering from Drexel University, while also minoring in International Economics and Finance. Through my school’s cooperative educational program, I’ve had the privilege of working as an acoustical and mechanical engineering  associate at a consulting firm in Philadelphia, being exposed to water technologies as a business development and process design intern in Singapore and most recently, setting my foot into the world of data analytics as a data science and data strategy co-op at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness in New York City. As I journey through life with the aspirations of being an engineer, a scientist, an investor, a writer and much more, I am gratituous to have the opportunity to delve into data and understand how experts are leveraging it to make smarter, more-informed business decisions.

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