Nathan Nash, Audience Research Officer, CBC
We recently caught up with Nathan Nash, an Audience Research Officer at the CBC. Nathan Nash did his Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Multimedia, followed by a Master of Arts in Communication and New Media, at McMaster.
What is it like working as a research officer for the CBC?
Working as an audience research officer at the CBC is great! I work with an amazing team and I get the opportunity to work with some of the most important programmers and content creators in the Canadian media industry. Coming straight from grad school, this position has provided me with a fantastic introduction to the broadcasting industry. I feel like I’m constantly learning new things. Decisions are made based on the research we provide, so it can be a very fast-paced and hectic environment, but I also find those times to be very exciting and some of the most rewarding.
What is an audience research officer?
As an Audience Research Officer in the TV programming team, I’m responsible for the reporting and analysis of TV audience ratings data to assist my clients in making programming and scheduling decisions. Specifically, my client is the Unscripted & Studio group, which includes reality, sports, and daytime programming. I also provide audience data to the Communications & Marketing team and advise on various communication pieces, such as press releases. The TV programming team as a whole is also responsible for providing updates on industry trends and consumption behavior to CBC executives for the purposes of content planning and corporate activities, like CRTC hearings and board meetings.
“During my time at McMaster, I tried to take every opportunity to expand beyond just classes, tutorials, and assignments so that I could take what I learned and apply it in order to gain some “real world” experience before actually graduating.”
What are some of the most exciting things that you do in your job?
As a TV viewer and advocate for Canadian content, it is very exciting to work directly in the industry and to see my insights take fruition on the screen. As a hockey fan, working on Hockey Night in Canada, even just general audience tracking, is always fun. One of the most exciting projects I get to work on every year is the NHL Playoffs, specifically using audience data, potential scheduling info, and historical trends to offer insights on what series match ups would be the best selection in terms of audience.
While at McMaster, you worked in various roles as an instructional assistant, web designer and developer, teaching assistant, video editor, and graphic designer. What was your experience like in these roles? What did you gain from these roles?
During my time at McMaster, I tried to take every opportunity to expand beyond just classes, tutorials, and assignments so that I could take what I learned and apply it in order to gain some “real world” experience before actually graduating. I knew that after graduating, finding a job would be incredibly difficult, so by volunteering my time and working in these different roles, I’d be adding to my experience and beefing up my resume. At times it could be very stressful trying to balance regular course loads and additional work, but it was definitely worth the extra effort. I also learned some basic things in these roles like how to carry myself in a professional manner and how to deal with different clients across varying levels of the university.
“It’s been the actual coursework that helps me now that I’m in my job… Research methodologies, media ownership in Canada, CRTC regulations, television audiences, and multimedia production are all things that I learned in my time at McMaster that I utilize daily in my job.”
What was the part of your program at McMaster that you most enjoyed and learned the most from?
In all honesty the actual coursework has proven to be some of the most important things that I learned from. The co-curricular and extra-curricular activities I took part in helped me in getting interviews and finding a job, but it’s been the actual coursework that helps me now that I’m in my job. Too many times students hear that what they learn in their classes won’t actually be of any use to them once they start working, but I’m very happy to say that’s not always the case. Research methodologies, media ownership in Canada, CRTC regulations, television audiences, and multimedia production are all things that I learned in my time at McMaster that I utilize daily in my job.
In terms of what I enjoyed the most, I would have to say being a Teaching Assistant was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences at McMaster. I loved getting to teach both Multimedia and Communication Studies courses, and there’s no better way to enhance your grasp of material and concepts than having to actually teach others.
Why did you choose McMaster?
For my undergrad, McMaster was an easy choice for several reasons. The Communication Studies and Multimedia programs offered that perfect balance of theory and practical course work that I wouldn’t be able to get from other universities or colleges. Also, being from Hamilton, I was able to save some money by living at home while going to school, which was a plus. For my graduate studies, I had always wanted to go beyond the BA, but was fairly open to what route that would be, whether it be a Master’s program or professional designation After my four years in the undergrad programs, I still felt that there was so much more I could learn from the professors in the department, so when word spread that they would be starting up the MA program, I jumped at the opportunity to continue working with them.
What advice do you have for McMaster students?
The best advice I can give to students is get involved, in any capacity that you can so that you can gain some additional experience beyond courses. Some of the best ways to do that is volunteering your time for student events and organizations, applying for internships whether through the department or not, being a Teaching Assistant, or even finding some part-time/freelance jobs that relate to your field. Coming out of university with a degree is great but having that additional experience will help set you apart from the rest when it comes to looking for a job. It’s also a great way to network with others beyond just classmates.