May is here. For three tiers of the current COM population, that means “on to the next one.” Maybe plans for internships or work in the summer as well. But for the fourth tier, “on to the next one” has become “on to…”
The COM Class of 2014 is the next senior class to have the college clock strike midnight on their tenures. They are also the latest of the COM community to answer the question, “What’s next?”
No matter how many years you have left (or don’t), Anjali Lai (COM’10) is a prime example of a graduate who didn’t have it all planned out. But not knowing your future doesn’t meant you don’t have a future.
I recently had a chance to speak with Lai, who works at Forrester Research Inc.
To begin, can you tell me a little about yourself? Where are you from and when did you graduate?
I was born and brought up in Connecticut and attended BU as an undergraduate student.
After graduating in 2010, I never thought I’d be back to campus for graduate school, but I felt so fortunate to enroll in the Applied COM Research program in the fall of 2013.
What is your position, along with some of your daily tasks at the Grad Applied COM Research program?
I’m currently a full time researcher at Forrester Research, where I write reports and deliver client presentations to inform marketing strategy across various industries.
At Forrester, I typically work with survey data, qualitative online community data – similar to online focus groups, social media data, and mobile tracking metrics.
As a graduate student in the Applied COM Research program, I’m able to learn a whole host of advanced analytic skills that will allow me to breathe life into the numbers I work with in the office and ultimately turn the data into valuable insight.
In the grad program, my daily tasks include attending lectures, working on case studies with my classmates, and conducting individual research for class projects.
Now, is this the job you envisioned having when you graduated from BU?
As an undergraduate I majored in English and minored in Communication Studies, so I wasn’t sure whether I would have to choose one route or the other.
I briefly enrolled in a graduate program for English literature but missed the communication side. When I interned with PR/marketing teams at various companies, I missed the reading and writing that English offered.
Eventually, I figured out that market research is a perfect blend of both disciplines.
Can you talk about your position at Forrester Research and the blog that you contribute to as well?
My position as a researcher on the Data Insights team at Forrester Research means that I get access to multiple types of data around consumer behavior.
My main objective is to bring the insights from multiple research methodologies together and create meaning for our clients.
In the past three years at Forrester I’ve been able to meet with and advise ad agencies, healthcare companies, financial institutions, and retailers about how consumers work and what consumers want.
I’m just one of several contributors to our Data Insight team blog. My Data Digest posts go live every other Friday and essentially highlight some interesting, timely data insights.
Who was your favorite professor at BU and why?
Honestly, I’ve had several professors that I would call my favorite.
Most recently, I’ve been taking communication research classes with Professor [Michael] Elasmar, which I felt were incredibly valuable, inspiring, and fulfilling.
As an undergraduate, I enjoyed learning from Professor [Mina] Tsai-Vogel, whose theory and research class initially got me hooked on market research.
Being a graduate from the College of Communication, you went through the process – and stress – of finding a job out of college. What are some tips you have to current COM students who are about to enter the work force?
The saying is so true, that “it’s all about who you know.” Don’t hesitate to send your resume around to your extended network, and don’t be shy to talk about your career aspirations with anyone and everyone.
Showing examples of the work you do in undergrad or graduate school can be really powerful, even if your interviewers don’t ask for it up front.
When I was interviewing, I would bring examples of market research reports I completed in school as proof of my academic background, and I think this helps to set individuals apart.
Lastly, stay positive. Honestly, there may be moments when you feel like all hope is lost, where you question your abilities or lose faith in finding your ideal career path… but I really believe that with persistence, a positive attitude, and patience, you’ll find what you’re looking for.