DH + “Adulting”: Digital Humanities in my Post-Grad Workspace

Photo caption: Shanya is all smiles during a post-graduation summer vacation in Indonesia (before having to come back and face the reality of “adulting” in the real world)


In almost all the interviews I went on during my post-grad job hunt, I was asked the question: “Wait, so what exactly is ‘digital humanities’?” My interviewers would see ‘digital humanities’ listed on my resume as my minor while a student at UCLA and were always curious about it. Most were not familiar with the subject and wanted to learn more. After my various attempts at explaining, I would always turn to to the simple metaphor Professor Miriam Posner shared in one of the DH classes I took at UCLA. It went something along the lines of, “Imagine, instead of doing a term paper at the end of a research project, you create a website or some other form of digital representation of your findings.” Now, this is obviously not an exact quote (apologies to Professor Posner), but my interviewers seemed to get the drift! While not the determining factor in whether an interview was a success or not, the words ‘digital humanities’ almost always acted as a key talking point of interest and helped propel my job hunt along.

Digital Humanities was certainly asked about in my interview for the current position I hold as an Assistant Media Buyer on the National Broadcast team of the advertising agency where I currently work. One of the larger parts of my job is consistently dealing with considerable amounts of data, whether received from our partners or pulled through research tools like Nielsen Analytics or Kantar. My coursework in UCLA’s Digital Humanities Program certainly helped me become comfortable with analyzing large sets of digital data and generating a visualization from them. From utilizing pivot tables in an Excel export of data to creating/understanding larger data visualizations using tools like Tableau (both skills I learned in my DH 101 class), I deal frequently with interpreting data, as it is vital to our reporting against our various marketing campaigns.

Although I primarily deal with executing media buys on national television and radio, my team and I work closely with our digital counterparts daily, especially as the entertainment world that I work in continues to grow into the digital world more and more each day. Digital influencer marketing is a big trend in my industry, as well as programmatically utilizing social media tools like the Instagrams, Snapchats, Twitters, and Facebooks of the world to push our content out there and expand clients’ brand messaging. Understanding the impact and potential of these digital platforms is essential in my industry, bringing me back to the very first class I ever took in the UCLA DH Program: “Selfies, Snapchats, and Cyberbullying” (which also ended up being one of my favorite college classes due to its relevancy).

Overall, my team and I at work are attempting to create and share stories through the media we are buying for our clients. We’re looking at various methods, linearly and digitally, to advertise and market our campaigns to reach certain demographics and audiences. In a sense, we are writing those “term papers” with that DH lens, as we are attempting to find more progressive and interactive ways to tell our tales and communicate our branding across today’s ever-changing platforms.

Shanya Norman is a recent UCLA graduate with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Digital Humanities, who has a passion for the intersection between entertainment, popular culture, social awareness, and community engagement. Shanya hopes to delve more into that passion as she currently pursues a career in marketing and public relations in the Los Angeles area. Her interests include: all things film/television/music, dance, NBA basketball, spending time with friends and family, and trying out all the foodie spots that are all the current hype on social media.