Job Title: Research Project Manager
Type of Company: I work for a graduate business school.
Education: BA, Feminist Studies, Clark University MBA, Simmons College
Previous Experience: I ran a non-profit organization for 10 years, though the MBA was probably more relevant for me getting my current job.
Job Tasks: I am working on a research project with a professor who studies how people do their jobs and if there are better ways to do them. Together, we are studying people in professional services: people whose jobs rely on meeting the needs of their clients. Professional service jobs include positions like lawyer, accountant and consultant. We are particularly interested in ways they could do their jobs just as well, or even better, but more efficiently, so they would have more time outside of work to spend with their families and friends or pursue other personal interests.
One of my primary responsibilities is interviewing the people we are studying. That involves writing a set of questions, setting up interviews, doing them, writing notes on them, and then analyzing the notes and looking for common themes. I might happen to notice, for example, that almost everyone says they don't mind traveling for work but they don't like to travel at a certain time of day. We could then start to think about why they travel when they do and make recommendations about different travel schedules.
Once we've identified themes that we're seeing in the research, we write articles and books to share our findings. These articles and books are used by other academics (researchers and professors at colleges and universities) to help their research and also inform what they teach people. In addition, our findings are used by people in business as they think about the best ways to work.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is getting to see a lot of different ways people work and I enjoy the exercise of thinking about how they might work differently.
The worst part is that sometimes the work can get monotonous because when we are analyzing and writing it is very detail oriented and at the end when you are editing it is very repetitive.
1. If you are interested in doing research, you really need to know how to use statistics. I would recommend learning Excel. Even if you are not a numbers person, it is great to know and you will catch on very fast.
2. Interviewing people is a great skill to have, regardless of what you do. You can practice interviews with friends and family members. Think about how to ask questions so that people have to give you answers other than yes/no.
3. This is a career where having good grades is really helpful. In my job, they ask for your college transcript so they can see your grades before hiring you. It is worth the extra effort you might have to put in to keep your grades up. And many people who like research decide to go on to graduate school, and again your grades in high school and college are important to get into a graduate program you find interesting.
Additional Thoughts: My career path has been a little non-traditional. I think what surprises me most is that when I was in high school I wouldn't have necessarily expected to be in this job later in life. But I really like it. I think it is a good reminder that it is important to keep your options open.
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