Shaping future leaders in social media analytics

Jennifer Eburg

3 min read

UConn’s Department of Digital Media and Design (DMD) in the School of Fine Arts prepares students to be leaders in the rapidly developing field of social media analytics. For the past few years, students in the digital media business strategies concentration have benefited from a partnership with Comscore (formerly Shareablee), a media measurement and analytics company, that has enhanced their learning experience.

“Through our connection with Comscore, students have access to a world-class platform that is heavily trusted in the digital analytics field,” says John Murphy, assistant professor-in-residence for the digital media business strategies concentration. “They are able to do a lot of research and training, and when they graduate, they walk into the business world with skill sets most college students don’t have.”

“Students interning with Comscore work on real-world projects, which is very different from only studying theory,” says Heather Elliott-Famularo, DMD department head and Donna Krenicki professor of design and digital media. “They also gain an understanding of the corporate piece: how to work with clients, how to present data to clients. They wouldn’t have this otherwise.”

The high caliber of UConn’s student interns—many of whom went on to become Comscore employees—impressed the company.

“When Shareablee was acquired by Comscore in 2021, the company realized that they had hired 11 or 12 UConn alumni over the past two years,” Murphy says. “They were so pleased with the quality of the students and how they entered the workforce with knowledge and hit the ground running.”

The DMD program didn’t even exist when Ed Hannigan ’06 (CLAS) graduated from UConn, but he has been invested in the partnership from the beginning. Hannigan, who is Comscore’s senior vice president of sales, says that the relationship developed organically, and the company quickly realized there was something tangible there.

“A great group of interns, who became full-time hires, came out of the initial relationship,” Hannigan says. “Comscore realized that the relationship was worth building, and that a larger partnership could result in a huge pipeline of outstanding candidates.”

Danan Ren, Comscore’s vice president of client insights, agrees.

“The caliber and professionalism of the students who have joined us (currently 11 alums across Client Insights and Marketing) from the past three graduating classes has been outstanding,” says Ren. “They come to us with experience working directly with clients and big data in the social media analytics space—two critical skills for a career in media measurement.”

Sarah Larkin and Jared Beltz are seniors who interned with Comscore in the summer of 2022. Both describe Comscore as a supportive and collaborative environment.

“My internship was amazing. I was never nervous to ask for help,” Larkin says. “The experience validated that this is what I want to be doing.”

Beltz adds that being able to connect with recent UConn graduates working at Comscore was a highlight.

“Having a continued relationship with people who understand our position, who work alongside us and train us, has been great,” he says. “I’ve also been able to share my experience from my Comscore internship with my classmates in the DMD program.”

Comscore recently decided to formalize the relationship and made a generous gift in support of the DMD program and its Social Media Analytics Command Center (known as the SMACC lab). The gift is an acknowledgement of the success to date as well as an investment in continuing the partnership.

“We are thrilled to grow Comscore’s partnership with the UConn DMD program and the SMACC lab,” Ren says. “Our joint goal is to continue to foster this talent pipeline and mentor the next generation of media measurement leaders.”

Elliott-Famularo notes that the mentorship provided by Comscore employees—especially those who are DMD alumni—is hugely impactful.

“DMD alumni are great models of UConn Huskies out in the world,” she says. “The connection between alumni mentors and current DMD students is so powerful. It gives students more incentive to work hard, be inspired, and envision their own futures.”

Ryan Young ’21 (SFA) interned at Comscore the summer before his senior year. He is now employed at the company as a customer success analyst and serves as a mentor. He says the experience is rewarding.

“I know what struggles the students are facing. It’s nice to now be the expert who is helping them along the journey,” he says. “The biggest advice I give them is to keep trying new things and being open to new topics.”

For Hannigan, connecting with UConn in this capacity is especially rewarding. He looks forward to continuing to build and develop the relationship.

“I fully believe in the program that has been built so far and hope to keep on this journey,” he says. “I couldn’t be more thrilled that my professional life is merging so closely with what was an incredibly early part of my life. It has reinvigorated my appreciation for the school.”

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