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Career Story: Child Development Researcher

Child Development Researcher

Job Title: Researcher

Type of Company: I work on two grant-funded evaluation projects. We evaluate programs designed to provide services to specific populations.

Education: BA, Rutgers University •• MS, Cornell University

Previous Experience: I directed an education program for K-12 schools. We ran workshops for students as well as professional development workshops for staff and faculty. I am now a researcher in child development.

Job Tasks: I work with other researchers to evaluate programs that serve specific groups of youth, most often by conducting interviews with the kids the programs serve. I then review the information I've gleaned from those interviews and from interviews conducted by other researchers and try to make sense of it. I look for themes that will teach us something about how the program works (or doesn't), as well as what makes the participants unique. After doing extensive work to identify these themes, I write papers and reports that help others to benefit from our research. The discoveries can be about how the program works and what about it could be improved, or what we have learned, or still need to learn, about the people participating in the program.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: One of the aspects of my job that I value the most is the opportunity to meet with many different people. This is something I value because it allows me to meet people who have very different backgrounds and life experiences than I do. I really enjoy connecting with people, and it is especially inspiring when you connect with someone who you would not be likely to connect with in your everyday life.

Job Tips: Some of the people I work with plan to pursue a career as researchers or professors. The work we do is important to them because it allows them to develop "hands-on" experience. This will eventually make them qualified to design research studies, apply for grants to fund research studies of interest to them, and lead teams of researchers.

Some people prefer quantitative research (involving numbers or statistics), others prefer qualitative research involving words and people's stories. Working on a research project often allows you to develop skills in both types of research. Understanding both research approaches allows you to better understand people, programs, and problems.

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