ISR summer internship program celebrates 10th anniversary

July 17, 2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—An internship program that provides students with hands-on experience designing, conducting, and analyzing surveys is celebrating its 10th anniversary July 31 with a symposium showcasing the research of current interns and a dinner for alumni and friends.

The program, sponsored by the Survey Research Center at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), was established in 2003 to build relationships with promising scholars and promote diversity.  More than 50 students from around the nation have participated in the last decade, working with ISR researcher faculty in a variety of academic disciplines.  The experience has kick-started scores of careers and kicked off a number of long-lasting friendships and professional collaborations between interns and faculty mentors.

“Many of our former interns are doing fantastic things – teaching, attending top-tier grad schools, and helping to conduct surveys and other social science research around the world,” says George Myers, manager of diversity initiatives at the ISR Survey Research Center, and director of the internship program since its inception.

“I love working with interns from this program in the summers,” says Kira Birditt, a research assistant professor in the ISR Life Course Development Program, who has served as a mentor since the program began.  “Because the interns work full-time, we have the chance to work on in-depth projects, and we get a lot done.”  Over the years, interns from the program have worked on coding and analyzing survey data, helped with grant-writing, and even co-authored papers with Birditt.

Summer intern Monique Kelly who plans to attend the University of California, Irvine, in the fall, to obtain an M.A. degree in the Social Sciences with a concentration in demographics and social analysis, has been working with ISR research professor Fred Conrad, who heads the Michigan Program in Survey Methodology.  She has been helping to analyze data from Conrad’s iPhone study. The preliminary findings, presented this spring at the American Association for Public Opinion Research, received international media coverage.

SRC Director Bill Axinn (Photo by Diane Swanbrow)

SRC Director Bill Axinn (Photo by Diane Swanbrow)

“This internship was a great experience for me,” says Lisa Marchiondo, who completed a Ph.D. in psychology at U-M this year and will be starting a position as assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University later this summer.  Last summer Marchiondo worked with Gwenith Fisher, an associate research scientist at ISR, merging the ISR Health and Retirement Study with a large national database of occupational information.  Now Marchiondo and Fisher are continuing their collaboration, analyzing the rich dataset.  “Working with Gwen gave me valuable additional skills, and her support as a mentor was really important as I moved into the job market,” says Marchiondo, who won the 2011-2012 Robert Kahn Fellowship for the Scientific Study of Social Issues for her research on rudeness in the workplace.

The symposium, which will be held July 31 at noon in ISR-Thompson Room 6050, is free and open to the public.

For more information about the ISR Survey Research Center Summer Internship program, including details about how to apply, visit the program website.