Career Story: University Researcher Studying American Jews

University Researcher Studying American Jews

Job Title: Research Associate

Type of Company: I work in a university research center that focuses on the study of American Jews.

Education: BA,Psychology and Business, Hebrew University (Jerusalem) •• MA, Criminology, Hebrew University (Jerusalem)

Previous Experience: I worked in a researched department in a big NGO.

Job Tasks: I work with a research group studying the characteristics, interests and opinions of American Jews. Our group conducts several studies of different sub-groups (young adults, married couples, participants in specific programs) every year. We conduct survey research (using online and phone questionnaires) as well as qualitative research (using in-depth interviews, diaries, observations) to learn abut our target population.

I oversee a group of researchers focusing on the study of Jewish young adults. I am involved in all stages of any given project, and most of the work is team work. My main responsibility is to allocate specific tasks and make sure that all of them get done. A research project process includes writing the research proposals and deciding on time lines for conducting the study. The next step is developing the research instruments - we usually use online surveys. When we have decided on the questions we want to ask I work with a research analyst to design the online survey using a specialized survey software. I then oversee the collection of data. Data collection may take several weeks or even months. When conducting qualitative research I work with an assistant to coordinate and schedule interviews, focus groups and observations.

Once the data is collected I work with my team to clean the data and use statistical software to analyze the results. With qualitative material we read through all of the transcripts and analyze the information using a theme based approach. As the results are analyzed and findings become apparent we have frequent team meetings in which we brainstorm the results and consolidate our understanding of the findings.

The next step is writing a report and preparing a presentation to the funder of the study and other interested parties.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is learning new things that can actually affect how organizations work and help them generate new programs and services. I also like working with a group of smart and curious people who are interested in learning more about the lives of young adults and are dedicated to developing and using innovative and quality social research techniques.

The hardest part of my job is data collection - it involves a lot of details, supervising a lot of temporary hires to assist with the task and is usually done in a time crunch.

Job Tips: If you are interested in a career in social studies or in social policy it is really important to have some background in research methods. Taking a research methods class at the college level is key to this work.

Understanding statistics and gaining experience with statistical software boosts your resume. It gives you an edge even if you only used statistics in a college project.

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