Return of the Intern

Costanza Scarpa | 03 September 2014

I'm Matt, a Mechanical Engineering student going into my second year at Nottingham University. I've just spent the last month interning with the Operations team at Realeyes.

Advertising and Mechanical Engineering are two fields that don’t tend to be thought of as complementary. Nevertheless, as a Mechanical Engineering student I felt that there were skills and experiences that interning at a company like Realeyes would give me which I couldn’t learn from the rather focussed curriculum at university. Furthermore I was interested in the technology behind the emotional measurement platform, and impressed and excited by the innovative ways in which Realeyes is applying it to quantify impact in a brand new way, and sidestep many of the issues advertising brands are facing today.

At the end of my time here, I can confirm that I was definitely correct in my assumption. Hidden away in a rather colourful part of Soho, simply walking to the office was an eye-opening, educational experience, and that did not stop once I began work. Starting an internship in an unfamiliar working environment can be quite nerve-wracking, but the atmosphere in the office immediately put me at ease, and ensured I never felt overwhelmed during the week.

I was immediately given a very thorough introduction to all things Operations by Oli, the head of the team, which gave me some great insight into the business process – from the RFQ (essential operational lingo I soon learned – a ‘request for quote’) to the detailed analysis of the adverts delivered to the client. It was fascinating to see every step of this process, and the amount of unseen work and money funnelled into the advertising industry that the majority of people will never be aware of. As someone without much experience of business, it was enlightening to see the inner workings of how one is run.

Throughout the month, the jobs I performed helped me develop knowledge of business management that I did not previously possess. I was put to work producing a set of Feasibility Tables that would improve the efficiency of the Ops Team, thus saving everyone valuable time, and this showed me the importance of an intelligently run company. Throughout this internship I’ve seen how similarly thoughtful ideas can result in significant improvements in efficiency and productivity – which is exactly what the Realeyes technology itself is trying to do. Another task I was been set was researching and collating ideas on categorising the numerous videos that Realeyes tests, followed by actually soft-launching the system. This would make comparisons of EmotionAll results (an overall rating for each advert aggregated from all the data measured) between adverts far less time-consuming, and as an intern it was exciting and fulfilling to be involved in something that will be used by – and be of use to – the company in the future, and see my work have immediate impact.

Before my internship, if you had asked me about the responsibilities of someone in a modern company, I would’ve told you that people’s job focus and skill sets were relatively narrow and specialised. But I’ve realised that in the modern working environment – certainly in the start-up environment – it is essential for each member of the team to be as versatile as possible. This has been amply exemplified during my time with the Ops Team, as I witnessed Oli, Monica, Costy, Chris and even Aaron – who only started working here shortly before I did –  perform a plethora of jobs requiring wide-ranging knowledge, flexibility and talent. It was mirrored in the tasks I was set, as I was continually challenged and never allowed to settle into a comfort zone.

It’s hard to pinpoint the most interesting facet of the Realeyes business. The engineer in me is fascinated by how metrics such as heart rate can possibly be captured through a webcam. But during my time with the Operations team, I saw the side of the company that takes the technology and turns the so-called Big Data from those metrics into concrete, meaningful results for the client. As someone who has always been more focussed on the technical, I’d never really thought about that essential process, and seeing how this was done is invaluable experience for the future.

Many people have negative experiences as an intern – uninterested co-workers, menial jobs and lack of integration into the company - but throughout the four weeks I was welcomed, encouraged to think, present my ideas to the team and given engaging jobs to perform (the odd intern snack run aside!)

As my time at Realeyes has drawn to a close, reflecting upon the experience has impressed upon me the importance of internships being offered by the company, and others of similar size. I’ve had the chance to compare and contrast my experience to that of others who have had internships at much larger firms, and I believe I’ve built a far broader, more useful knowledge base to aid me in the future. So it is with regret, but with and excellent grounding, that I leave the office at 79 Wardour Street, now a grizzled veteran ready for a future after the gentle University bubble.

Matt Born, Operations Intern
Costanza Scarpa
Marketing Communications Executive