How Networking Helped Me Grow My Career At Nielsen

Rebecca is the Senior Director of Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series reports, based in Chicago. Throughout her career at Nielsen, Rebecca has developed many relationships that have helped her grow both personally and professionally.

When I began my career at Nielsen, it was a really big deal.

There I was, this over-zealous, energetic Millennial in her late 20s who had landed a major job at a large company. Did I pinch myself often? I sure did.

The job offer came at an important time in my life, as I was in a “rebuilding” phase of my career. Previously, I was laid off as a journalist in St. Louis when digital was just starting to surge in the newspaper business. After that, I moved back to my hometown of New Orleans and took a job while trying to figure out what was next. It took me about a year before I found myself moving back to the Midwest for an Integrated Marketing and Communications graduate school program in Chicago.

Back then, my close friends would ask me all the time, “Becky, are you sure you want to move away again?” My answer would always be a stern and confident yes. There were, however, many emotions swirling around in my head. I wasn’t so apprehensive about going back to school, even though this would be five years post-undergrad. I was more afraid of not finding a job after graduation. My gut told me to do it, and with the secured mental and financial support from my parents, I did.

Graduate school was tough, but it was even harder making my way into the prominent marketing communications circles in the third-largest city in the U.S. I had to find a job after these two years of graduate school, because moving back home for a second time was NOT an option. So, the paranoia kicked in around the start of year two. I had always been great at networking. I was blessed with the gift of gab and could talk about politics, food and sports. I thought this skill would ultimately be how I would land a job and stay in Chicago, but it was actually a professional contact that I met at at event that led me to Nielsen.

I met my mentor Cheryl before I moved to Chicago for graduate school. Ironically, our paths crossed by chance at a Nielsen-sponsored event. At the event, she asked if I knew where the nearest ladies room was, and as a polite stranger, I showed her the way. I thought that was the end of the meeting, but she came back and struck up a conversation with me. I told her that I was a New Orleans native and would be moving to Chicago soon to begin graduate school, and I noticed that she perked up a bit. She proceeded to give me her card and said, “Make sure you keep in touch.”

When she walked away, I read the card, saw the Nielsen logo and thought to myself, “No way!” I was very familiar with the company, but I never thought I would actually meet someone who worked there. Then, I read her title and realized she was in a high level position. I did not know what her role entailed at the time, but I do remember feeling very confident that there was an African-American woman in a senior position at a billion-dollar company who picked me out for some reason and gave me her card. Now, it was my job to do something about it.

Fast forward to the present: I’ve now been at Nielsen for five years. I started my Nielsen career as the Communications Director for Community Alliances in 2011, and have since transitioned into my current role as the Senior Director for our Diverse Intelligence Series reports. In the course of my time at Nielsen, I’ve been able to develop meaningful relationships with others and learn about the business, which has helped me grow my career.

Looking back, I believe I had what some might call a “non-traditional” way of getting to Nielsen. I wasn’t recruited at one of the targeted schools or highly recruited from a competitor. Nevertheless, my experience was very personal, which is one of the core values of this company. I own my personal diversity and I am passionate about sharing our insights with other diverse communities in this country. I could not have done it without Cheryl and the other relationships I have built here at Nielsen. I know they will be there to continue to help me as I climb this career ladder, and of course, I will continue to reach back and help them in return.

To learn more about Nielsen’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, download a copy of our Diversity and Inclusion report.