Microsoft Research New England is looking for advanced Ph.D. students interested in bringing sociotechnical perspectives to analyze critical issues of our time. Interns will join a group of social scientists using empirical and critical methods to study the social, political, and cultural dynamics that shape technologies and their consequences. Our work draws on and spans several disciplines such as anthropology, communication, gender and sexuality studies, history, information studies, law, media studies, organizational and management sciences, science & technology studies, and sociology. Applications are due December 2, 2022.
To apply for this PhD internship, fill out the online application form here. But read on! Lots of useful info below.
In 2023 we will return to in person internships! Interns will be expected to be physically present and contribute to the daily life of our lab (based in Cambridge, MA). We are also excited to once again welcome applicants from outside North America.
We are especially interested in candidates bringing sociotechnical approaches to the study of such topics as:
- race, caste, and Indigeneity; gender and sexual identities; socioeconomic status and class; and the intersectional dimensions of identity as they are entangled with sociotechnical systems;
- how institutions, organizations, networks, and infrastructures (across sectors and domains) configure and are configured by sociotechnical systems;
- notions of cooperation, mutual aid, and community engagement and their relationships to governance and responsible technologies;
- political economies and emerging organizational forms in digital labor, community, government, non-profit, creator economy, and private-sector contexts;
- the politics and public responsibilities of algorithms, platforms, AI, machine learning, metrics, and other manifestations of computational cultures.
The questions our researchers are currently focused on include:
- How are people’s expectations of work changing and how does that intersect with the rise of the creator and gig economies? (Nancy Baym)
- What makes data legitimate in contexts as varied as government, civil society, and industry? (danah boyd)
- How do platforms and other algorithmic intermediaries, through their design and policies, govern public discourse? (Tarleton Gillespie)
- What are the cultural, political, and ethical implications of digital systems as new forms and sites of semi-automated, globally-distributed digital sites of identities, work, and human rights? (Mary L. Gray)
For more information about us, and a list of past interns, visit the About page of our blog. For a complete list of all permanent researchers and current postdocs based at the New England lab, see the MSRNE lab webpage.
The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines (including but not limited to anthropology, communication, gender and sexuality studies, history, information studies, law, media studies, science and technology studies, sociology, or a related field), but should have a strong social scientific, empirical, or critical methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to algorithmic, computational, or data-driven technologies and societies or cultures, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment with computer scientists, biologists, mathematicians, and economists.
Interns are also expected to give short presentations on their project, 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. There are also natural opportunities for collaboration within our group, and with others currently working at MSRNE.
Some of the compensation and benefits of this position include:
- highly competitive salary
- internship events and activities
- housing stipends
- eligibility to enroll in a Microsoft sponsored medical plan (though most interns stay covered under their university insurance)
Applicants must have advanced to candidacy (or the equivalent) in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (approximately May 2023). Unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early PhD students at this time.
Applicants from historically marginalized communities and those underrepresented in higher education are encouraged to apply.
To apply for this PhD internship, fill out the online application form here: https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en/job/1484469/Research-Intern-Sociotechnical-Systems
…the application portal may prompt you to set up an account first; thanks for your patience.
Your application must include:
1. A short description (no more than 2 pages, single-spaced…yes, you can use a separate sheet for citations that won’t count against you) of 1 project (no more than 2 projects) that you propose to do while interning at MSRNE, independently and/or in collaboration with current SMC researchers. Project proposals can be related to, but should be distinct from, your dissertation research. Be specific and tell us:
- What is the research question animating your proposed project?
- What methods would you use to address your question?
- How does your research question complement and enhance the themes listed above?
- Who do you hope to reach (who are you engaging) with this proposed research?
Don’t forget that this is a 12-week internship project. We are looking for projects that can realistically be completed during the internship with an eye towards a single publication.
2. A brief description of your dissertation project (no more than 1 page, single spaced; feel free to attach a separate citations page—we will not include that in the page count).
3. One academic article-length manuscript (~7,000 or more) that you have authored or co-authored (published or unpublished) that demonstrates your writing skills. Again, we won’t count citations in this word count.
4. A copy of your CV.
5. If available, pointers to your website or other online presence (this is not required).
6. You will be asked to submit the names and email contact information for three potential academic letters of reference (one contact must be your dissertation advisor). Note that candidates should tell their recommenders that despite the auto-request for a letter of recommendation, they do not need to submit letters unless they are contacted and asked to do so by a member of the search committee, after our initial review of applications.
Some system debugging advice: If you find that the system gets logged as “submitted” before you finish uploading your materials, login to the system and upload the files under your Profile. Likewise, if you’re running into problems with your references, login to the system and go to Action Center, where you should be able to edit your references. If you face other struggles with the system, you can write to email@example.com (Sorry from all of us for how frustrating that system is.)
If you have any questions about or problems with the application process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and include “2023 Sociotechnical PhD Internship” in the subject line.
Applications are due December 2, 2022. Due to the volume of applications, late submissions (including submissions missing elements of the application package other than letters of recommendation) will not be considered. We will not be able to provide specific feedback on individual applications before or after submission. Finalists will be contacted in early 2023 to arrange an online interview. Applicants chosen for an internship will be informed in February.
Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances. We also consider qualified applicants regardless of criminal records, consistent with legal requirements. If you need assistance and/or reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form.
Benefits/perks may vary depending on the nature of your employment with Microsoft and the country where you work.