This past semester I became an intern at Drive Research. My name is Luke Cohen and I am currently a junior at Castleton University.
Castleton is a small liberal arts college located in Vermont - the same alma matter that George Kuhn, Owner & President of Drive Research attended. We actually had some of the same professors advising both of us some ten years after his graduation.
Over the past five months, I have learned more about market research and how it is conducted then I could have ever thought. It saw the first-hand experience in how a business runs, projects are delegated, and timelines really matter.
1. Adjusting to Working Remotely
COVID-19 has made major shifts in everyone's life. Especially for those in business. Drive Research picked right up as the team easily adjusted to everyone working remotely. This type of working environment was no real change for me, as I had been already interning remotely from Vermont.
It was extremely interesting to be part of the move to become fully remote and how easily George, Emily T., Chris, Tim, Emily C., and Elizabeth picked up, moved online, and continued to put out project after project with ease.
I learned a valuable lesson that in the future businesses like this must be able to be run 100% remotely to survive any type of crisis that may occur.
Throughout the semester I helped with many different projects and each taught me something new.
I learned how to contribute my analysis and summary of projects, test-surveys and make sure they were ready to be rolled out, analyze data that was brought in from projects, write blog posts, and be able to work with different members of the Drive Research team throughout my months here.
2. Making Contributions
From the first day, projects were sent my way to be analyzed. As a college student pursuing degrees in economics and mathematics it was very interesting to give my feedback on these projects from an analytical standpoint.
The first analytical report I produced for Drive Research was for a project that involved over 6,000 respondents in the United States. Using tools such as SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) and R I was able to deliver analytical information to the team.
Another project I worked on that I found very interesting was for the New York State Fair. It was quite fascinating because, as a resident of New York, I got to learn about the history of the fair and how it could be improved in the future.
For this project, I spent a lot of time learning how to code open-ended survey responses in Excel. Excel is an efficient way to organize data into similar groups which makes the analysis of the survey much easier.
I would do this several more times throughout my internship and even have the chance to present to the staff at Drive Research. As an intern and a college student, it was a very interesting experience for me to be able to present my work to Drive Research and hear thoughts from the team.
3. Analyzing Data
The area in which I helped Drive Research the most was data analysis. In economics, my primary field of research, analyzing data, and drawing inferences about the material is important. This includes qualitative and quantitative data.
Qualitative data is observed and recorded. This type of data gathering occurs when Drive Research does face to face focus groups and interviews.
Quantitative data is a measurable count of data, like how many people responded to a survey or picked a certain number on a scale.
Drive Research gathered a tremendous amount of data during my short time as an intern and I was able to comb through many different projects and come up with statistical analysis.
The method I used was to look through a certain project and the information which I found the most interesting.
Using programs such as Excel, SPSS, and R I was able to create graphics for the team that helped explain results faster than I could speak. The graph above was used in a Drive Research blog.
Before any clients see a programmed online survey, the Drive Research team tests each element of the survey to make sure it’s perfect. Testing can be fun but also very stressful.
For me, testing started with reading over the original survey questions. This process is as necessary as anything else that we do but by far the most time-consuming.
The next step was to ensure every question flows seamlessly into the next. An art that I picked up with the help of Emily T.
For instance, certain questions will skip other questions and add follow up questions if selected a certain way. These little nuances need to be tested to make sure respondents have an easy time completing the survey and confirming the survey is programmed correctly.
5. The Art of the Blog
Blogs roll out of Drive Research at a rate of 5 to 7 per week and the entire team contributes. Each person writes about topics that deal with market research or a personal idea they feel will inform our clients.
These blogs, like the one I am writing now, are used as a library of ideas and best practices for our staff and clients.
I knew as an intern like the rest of the Drive staff I would have to write a blog. Little did I know how hard it actually was to produce a blog fitting for the website.
These blogs take several hours to write and then several hours to edit. If you are just starting out, I would estimate that the entire process takes 6 to 8 hours to produce a single blog.
I learned a lot about writing through my time here. Paragraphs should be short and to the point - thank you, Emily T.
In addition to the other skills I’ve learned along the way, my writing improved tremendously. By the time I wrote this blog it only took me 4 to 5 hours to write, where my first blog took almost 8. It was very cool to be able to write a blog and see it published for others to read.
I also hope you, the reader, enjoyed my posts too!
6. The Power of Team Work
The biggest thing I learned from Drive Research was teamwork. The team at Drive Research, from George all the way down to me, moved through every project with open communication.
Projects are delegated very well and I knew exactly what part I would be working on and how it should get done.
I had a chance to work with almost every member of the Drive Research team and it went off without a hitch. Everyone works together as a team to push out projects.
As someone looking to own their own business one day, it was amazing how quickly Drive Research transitioned to become a remote business in the COVID-19 changing environment. One day the office was open, and the next it seems everyone's living room became their office.
While I know the technology was already there for Drive Research to move remote, it was amazing to see how seamlessly this transition went off and how quickly projects picked up where they left off without a hitch.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone at Drive Research for everything that I learned and all the projects that I was able to be a part of.
It was a great experience for me and I learned a lot about market research.
Drive Research is an amazing firm and it was a pleasure to be an intern for them!
Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. We are always looking for top talent to join our team for full-time positions or internships. To see our available positions, visit our careers page.
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