Megan was a graduate research assistant in the Demographics Research Group contributing to several important reports, including one on childhood poverty and another on low-wage employment. She also authored several posts on the StatChat web series.
“Being an advanced graduate student is a fairly isolating experience. Working for the the Demographics Group allowed me to be part of a team engaged in collaborative work with immediate policy relevance."
Megan was earning her PhD in Sociology when she completed her research assistantship.
Why did you choose to intern with the Weldon Cooper Center, Demographics Group?
When I applied to the Demographics Group I knew that I was going to pursue an “alternate-academic” career path...and was looking for a way to expand my data and public policy experience.
What projects did you work on during your internship?
While I was at the Demographics Group, I worked on the new Insights on Childhood Poverty report and a Census Brief on Low-Wage Employment, in addition to several StatChat posts.
Has your experience in the Demographics Group helped you in your academic studies, given you skills you can use in a future career or helped you to think differently about your academic and/or career path?
The thing that I learned at the Demographics Group that has served me the most in my career is an appreciation of audience. The Demographics Group does very rigorous and technical work, but disseminates the work to a variety of audience through reports, blogs, conference presentations, media interviews, etc. Each dissemination strategy has a different intended audience, and needs to have the information presented in different ways. In the Demographics Group, the team would routinely workshop any report, presentation, and media preparation to ensure the content was tailored to the intended audience. Since leaving the Demographics Group I’ve given presentations at neighborhood community organizing meetings, written reports for city leaders, and translated academic research for business practitioners. Each audience has their own needs, and my time with the Demographics Group prepared me to meet each group at their point of need.
What did you enjoy most about your internship?
I really enjoyed working as part of a team. Being an advanced graduate student is a fairly isolating experience. Working for the the Demographics Group allowed me to be part of a team engaged in collaborative work with immediate policy relevance.
Would you recommend working for the Demographics Research Group to future students?
Absolutely. My experience in the Demographics Group provided me with a strong foundation for the non-academic work I did following graduation, and the practice with writing and the focus on audience continue to serve me well in my current work supporting faculty research at the Darden Graduate School of Business.