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Reminder! MSR Social Media Collective PhD Intern Call, Cycle 2016!

December 16, 2015

APPLICATION DEADLINE: JANUARY 29, 2016

Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for advanced PhD students to join the Social Media Collective (SMC) for its 12-week 2016 Intern Program. The Social Media Collective scholars at MSRNE bring together empirical and critical perspectives to address complex socio-technical issues. Our research agenda draws on a social scientific/humanistic lens to understand the social meanings and possible futures of media and communication technologies. The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines (including anthropology, communication, information studies, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or a related field), but should have a strong social scientific or humanistic methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to media or communication technologies and society or culture, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes computer scientists, mathematicians, and economists.

MSRNE internships are 12-week paid internships in Cambridge, Massachusetts. PhD interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship. Primary mentors for this year will be Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary L. Gray, with additional guidance offered by our lab postdocs and visiting scholars.

PhD interns at MSRNE are expected to devise and execute a research project (see project requirements below), based on their application project proposals, during their internships. The expected outcome of an internship at MSRNE is a draft of a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference of the intern’s choosing. Our goal is to help the intern advance their own career; interns are strongly encouraged to work towards a creative outcome that will help them on the academic job market. Interns are also expected to collaborate on projects or papers with full-time researchers and visitors, contribute to the SMC blog, give short presentations, attend the weekly lab colloquia, and contribute to the life of the community through weekly lunches with fellow PhD interns and the broader lab community. While this is not an applied program, MSRNE encourages interdisciplinary collaboration with computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians.

PEOPLE AT MSRNE SOCIAL MEDIA COLLECTIVE

The Social Media Collective is comprised of full-time researchers, postdocs, visiting faculty, Ph.D. interns, and research assistants. Current projects in New England include:

  • How does the use of social media affect relationships between artists and audiences in creative industries, and what does that tell us about the future of work? (Nancy Baym)
  • How are social media platforms, through algorithmic design and user policies, adopting the role of intermediaries for public discourse? (Tarleton Gillespie)
  • What are the cultural, political, and economic implications of crowdsourcing as a new form of semi-automated, globally-distributed digital labor? (Mary L. Gray)
  • How are predictive analytics used by law enforcement and what are the implications of new data-driven surveillance practices? (Sarah Brayne)
  • What are the social and political consequences of popular computing folklore? (Kevin Driscoll)
  • How are the technologies of money changing and what are the social implications of those changes? (Lana Swartz)

SMC PhD interns may have the opportunity to connect with our sister Social Media Collective members in New York City. Related projects in New York City include:

  • What are the politics, ethics, and policy implications of big data science? (Kate Crawford, MSR-NYC)
  • What are the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development? (danah boyd, Data & Society Research Institute)

We are looking for applicants to focus their proposals on one of the following seven areas (though, you may propose a project that speaks to more than one of these):

  1. Personal relationships and digital media
  2. Audiences and the shifting landscapes of socially mediated entertainment
  3. Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor
  4. The social and political consequences of popular computing folklore
  5. The politics of big data, algorithms, and computational culture
  6. How emerging technologies shape countercultures, identities, and communities of difference
  7. Histories of computing and the internet that focus on the experiences of people from marginalized social, economic, racial, or geographic groups

Applicants should have advanced to candidacy in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early PhD students at this time). Interns will benefit most from this opportunity if there are natural opportunities for collaboration with other researchers or visitors currently working at MSRNE. Applicants from historically marginalized communities, underrepresented in higher education, and students from universities outside of the United States are encouraged to apply.

For a complete list of all permanent researchers and current postdocs based at the New England lab see:

Which is: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/labs/newengland/people/bios.aspx

Previous MSRNE interns in the Collective have included Amelia Abreu (UWashington, information), Stacy Blasiola (University of Illinois, Chicago, communication), Jed Brubaker (UC-Irvine, informatics), Aleena Chia (Indiana U. communication and culture), Jade Davis (University of North Carolina, communication), Brittany Fiore-Silfvast (University of Washington, communication), Scott Golder (Cornell, sociology), Germaine Halegoua (U. Wisconsin, communications), Tero Karppi (University of Turku, media studies), Airi Lampinen (HIIT, information), Jessa Lingel (Rutgers, library and information science), Joshua McVeigh-Schultz (University of Southern California, interactive media), Alice Marwick (NYU, media culture communication), J. Nathan Matias (MIT Media Lab), Jolie Matthews (Stanford, learning sciences), Tressie McMillan Cottom (Emory, sociology), Andrés Monroy-Hernandez (MIT, Media Lab), Laura Noren (NYU, sociology), Nick Seaver (UC Irvine, anthropology), Jaroslav Svelch (Charles University, media studies), Katrin Tiidenberg (Tallinn University, Institute of International and Social Studies), Shawn Walker (UWashington, information), Omar Wasow (Harvard, African-American studies), Sarita Yardi (GeorgiaTech, HCI), and Kathryn Zyskowski (University of Washington, anthropology).

For more information about the Social Media Collective, visit our blog: https://socialmediacollective.org/

APPLICATION PROCESS

To apply for a PhD internship with the social media collective:

  1. Fill out the online application form: https://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/jobs/intern.aspx

On the application website, indicate that your research area of interest is “Anthropology, Communication, Media Studies, and Sociology” and that your location preference is “New England, MA, U.S.” in the pull down menus. Also enter the name of a mentor (Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, or Mary Gray) whose work most directly relates to your own in the “Microsoft Research Contact” field. IF YOU DO NOT MARK THESE PREFERENCES WE WILL NOT RECEIVE YOUR APPLICATION. So, please, make sure to follow these detailed instructions.

Your application will need to include:

  1. A brief description of your dissertation project.
  2. An academic article-length manuscript (~7,000 or more) that you have authored or co-authored (published or unpublished) that demonstrates your writing skills.
  3. A copy of your CV.
  4. The names and contact information for 3 references (one contact name must be your dissertation advisor).
  5. A pointer to your website or other online presence (if available; not required).
  6. A short description (no more than 2 pages, single spaced) of 1 or 2 projects that you propose to do while interning at MSRNE, independently and/or in collaboration with current SMC researchers. The project proposals can be related to but must be distinct from your dissertation research. Be specific and tell us: 1) What is the research question animating your proposed project? 2) What methods would you use to address your question? 3) How does your research question speak to the interests of the SMC? and 4) Who do you hope to reach (who are you engaging) with this proposed research? This is important – we really want to know what it is you want to work on with us and we need to know that it is not, simply, a continuation of your dissertation project.

On Letters of Reference:

After you submit your application, a request for letters will be sent to your list of referees, on your behalf. NOTE: THE APPLICATION SYSTEM WILL NOT REQUEST REFERENCE LETTERS UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE SUBMITTED YOUR APPLICATION! Please warn your letter writers in advance so that they will be ready to submit them when they receive the prompt. The email they receive will automatically tell them they have two weeks to respond but that an individual call for applicants may have an earlier deadline. Please ensure that they expect this email (tell them to check their spam folders, too!) and are prepared to submit your letter by our application deadline of Friday 29 January, 2016. Please make sure to check back with your referees if you have any questions about the status of your requested letters of recommendation. You can check the progress on individual reference requests at any time by clicking the status tab within your application page. Note that a complete application must include three submitted letters of reference.

TIMELINE

Due to the volume of applications, late submissions (including submissions with late letters of reference) will not be considered. We will not be able to provide specific feedback on individual applications. Finalists will be contacted the last week in February to arrange a Skype interview before the internship slots available to us are assigned (note: number of available slots changes year-to-year). Please keep an eye on the socialmediacollective.org blog as we announce the 2016 PhD Interns on the blog by the end of March.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Mary Gray at mLg@microsoft.com and include “SMC PhD Internship” in the subject line.

PREVIOUS INTERN TESTIMONIALS

“The internship at Microsoft Research was all of the things I wanted it to be – personally productive, intellectually rich, quiet enough to focus, noisy enough to avoid complete hermit-like cave dwelling behavior, and full of opportunities to begin ongoing professional relationships with other scholars who I might not have run into elsewhere.”
— Laura Noren, Sociology, New York University

“If I could design my own graduate school experience, it would feel a lot like my summer at Microsoft Research. I had the chance to undertake a project that I’d wanted to do for a long time, surrounded by really supportive and engaging thinkers who could provide guidance on things to read and concepts to consider, but who could also provoke interesting questions on the ethics of ethnographic work or the complexities of building an identity as a social sciences researcher. Overall, it was a terrific experience for me as a researcher as well as a thinker.”
— Jessica Lingel, Library and Information Science, Rutgers University

“Spending the summer as an intern at MSR was an extremely rewarding learning experience. Having the opportunity to develop and work on your own projects as well as collaborate and workshop ideas with prestigious and extremely talented researchers was invaluable. It was amazing how all of the members of the Social Media Collective came together to create this motivating environment that was open, supportive, and collaborative. Being able to observe how renowned researchers streamline ideas, develop projects, conduct research, and manage the writing process was a uniquely helpful experience – and not only being able to observe and ask questions, but to contribute to some of these stages was amazing and unexpected.”
— Germaine Halegoua, Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Not only was I able to work with so many smart people, but the thoughtfulness and care they took when they engaged with my research can’t be stressed enough. The ability to truly listen to someone is so important. You have these researchers doing multiple, fascinating projects, but they still make time to help out interns in whatever way they can. I always felt I had everyone’s attention when I spoke about my project or other issues I had, and everyone was always willing to discuss any questions I had, or even if I just wanted clarification on a comment someone had made at an earlier point. Another favorite aspect of mine was learning about other interns’ projects and connecting with people outside my discipline.”
–Jolie Matthews, Education, Stanford University

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 26, 2016 4:36 pm

    Some FAQs (thanks to those of you who’ve sent queries and given me permission to post our exchanges anonymously!)

    How much is the salary/stipend? How is it disbursed?

    We don’t disclose the exact amount (as it changes year to year and depends on a student’s degree status and any past internships with MSR) but it’s somewhere above $2,000/month (after taxes). Interns are paid every 2 weeks. The first paycheck doesn’t arrive until about week 3-4 (takes awhile for the paperwork to process) so students need to make sure that they have resources to cover their transition to Cambridge, MA.

    Is housing included? Is there assistance finding housing?

    It comes with travel to/from the area, a small relocation budget (to move any needed books) and a housing stipend or assigned housing (if you have a place to crash, that’s usually cheaper than the assigned housing).

    Are other living expenses included, such as healthcare?

    Commuting is covered through either a voucher to get a bike, parking at the building, or a commuter pass. Healthcare is *not* provided though there is an expensive policy that students can purchase while here. The assumption is that students are covered by their home institution’s healthcare policies, as they would be if they are on summer break.

    Are there any provisions for dependents traveling with the intern?

    There are but I don’t know the specifics. Dependents can be covered with housing (so, interns with families receive housing assignments to accommodate their children and partners. But I don’t remember if dependents’ travel to Cambridge is covered (I’m guessing that infants are covered but less certain about other kids). HEY ALUM: please post if you have experience with this?

    Please note: This internship is *intense*–even for the pretty good pay, it’s not worth applying for this unless you’re ready to work as hard (or harder) than you have in any grad seminar before.

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