APPLICATION DEADLINE: JANUARY 18, 2019
Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for advanced PhD students to join the Social Media Collective (SMC) for its 12-week Internship program. The Social Media Collective (in New England, we are Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary Gray, with current postdoc Elena Maris) bring together empirical and critical perspectives to understand the political and cultural dynamics that underpin social media technologies. Learn more about us here.
The Social Media Collective (SMC) is a network of social science and humanistic researchers, part of the Microsoft Research labs in New England and New York. It includes full-time researchers, postdocs, interns, and visitors. Our primary purpose is to provide rich contextual understanding into the social and cultural dynamics that underpin social media technologies. Our work spans several disciplines: anthropology, communication, economics, information, law, media studies, women’s studies, science & technology studies, and sociology.
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 their algorithmic design and user policies, taking up the role of custodians of 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 and why do industries seek out qualitative understandings of users, technology, big data, metrics and analytics, and who does this kind of ‘soft data’ work? (Elena Maris)
For more information about the Social Media Collective, 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: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/labs/newengland/people/bios.aspx
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.
Primary mentors for this year will be Nancy Baym, Mary L. Gray, and Tarleton Gillespie, with additional guidance offered by other members of the SMC. We are looking for applicants working in one or more of the following areas:
- Personal relationships and digital media
- Audiences and the shifting landscapes of producer/consumer relations
- Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor
- How platforms, through their design and policies, shape public discourse
- The politics of algorithms, metrics, and big data for a computational culture
- The political economies of on-demand labor
- The difference between traditional cooperatively-managed markets and Commons and online platform cooperatives
- The ethics of dataset creation and uses of large-scale social data for qualitative research
Interns are also expected to give short presentations on their project, contribute to the SMC blog, 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 with SMC researchers and visitors, and with others currently working at MSRNE, including computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians. PhD interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship.
Some of the compensation and benefits of this position include:
- highly competitive salary
- travel to/from internship location from your university location (including the intern and all eligible dependents)
- housing costs: interns can select one of two housing options
- fully furnished corporate housing covered by Microsoft, or
- a lump sum for finding and securing your own housing
- local transportation allowance for commuting
- health insurance is not provided; most interns stay covered under their university insurance, but interns are eligible to enroll in a Microsoft sponsored medical plan
- internship events and activities
Be sure to read the detailed instructions below. But to apply for a PhD internship with the Social Media Collective, fill out the online application form here: https://careers.microsoft.com/i/us/en/job/542746/Research-Intern-Social-Media-Collective (may prompt you to set up an account first; be patient.)
Applicants must 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). Applicants from historically marginalized communities, underrepresented in higher education, and students from universities outside of the United States are encouraged to apply.
Your application needs to include:
- 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:
- What is the research question animating your proposed project?
- What methods would you use to address your question?
- How does your research question speak to the interests of the SMC?
- Who do you hope to reach (who are you engaging) with this proposed research?
- A brief description of your dissertation project(no more than 1 page, single spaced).
- An academic article-length manuscript (~7,000 or more) that you have authored or co-authored (published or unpublished) that demonstrates your writing skills.
- A copy of your CV.
- if available, pointers to your website or other online presence (this is not required).
- In addition to those qualifications, you’ll need submit the names of three reference letter for this position (one must be your dissertation advisor). After you submit your application, a request for letters may be sent to your list of references on your behalf. Note that reference letters cannot be requested until after you have submitted your application, and furthermore, that they might not be automatically requested for all candidates. You may wish to alert your letter writers in advance, so they will be ready to submit your letter.
If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Tarleton Gillespie at firstname.lastname@example.org and include “SMC PhD Internship” in the subject line.
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 in February to arrange a Skype interview. Applicants chosen for the internship will be informed in March and announced on the socialmediacollective.org blog.
PREVIOUS INTERN TESTIMONIALS
“The Microsoft Internship is a life-changing experience. The program offers structure and space for emerging scholars to find their own voice while also engaging in interdisciplinary conversations. For social scientists especially the exposure to various forms of thinking, measuring, and problem-solving is unparalleled. I continue to call on the relationships I made at MSRE and always make space to talk to a former or current intern. Those kinds of relationships have a long tail.” — Tressie McMillan Cottom, Sociology, Virginia Commonwealth University
“My internship experience at MSRNE was eye-opening, mind-expanding and happy-making. If you are looking to level up as a scholar – reach new depth in your focus area, while broadening your scope in directions you would never dream up on your own; and you’d like to do that with the brightest, most inspiring and supportive group of scholars and humans – then you definitely want to apply.” — Kat Tiidenberg, Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark
“Coming right after the exhausting, enriching ordeal of general/qualifying exams, it was exactly what I needed to step back, plunge my hands into a research project, and set the stage for my dissertation… PhD interns are given substantial intellectual freedom to pursue the questions they care about. As a consequence, the onus is mostly on the intern to develop their research project, justify it to their mentors, and do the work. While my mentors asked me good, supportive, and often helpfully hard, critical questions, but my relationship with them was not the relationship of an RA to a PI– instead it was the relationship of a junior colleague to senior ones.” — J. Nathan Matias, Psychology, Princeton University (read more here)
“My summer at Microsoft Research with the Social Media Collective was nothing short of transformative. My theoretical and methodological horizons broadened, and the relationships I forged continue to shape my development as a scholar.” — Shannon MacGregor, Communication, University of Utah
“It might be hard to believe that a twelve-week internship could be so integral to your professional and personal growth, but that’s exactly how I felt at that end of my time at MSRNE. I learned more about writing, critical thinking, public speaking, collegiality, and self-belief than I thought possible within such a short space of time, and I gained a group of forever friends and mentors in the process. The internship also provides you with a rare opportunity to work in a truly interdisciplinary environment and allows you to take your research proposal in a direction you might not have planned for. MSRNE was, and will continue to be, the perfect intellectual home for me.” — Ysabel Gerrard, Digital Media and Society, University of Sheffield, UK
“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, Center for Data Science, 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, Communication, University of Pennsylvania
“The Social Media Collective was instrumental throughout the process in giving me timely, sharp, and helpful feedback for my research project. These conversations further inspired new thinking that has shaped for my overall research agenda. I also felt supported by the process at Microsoft Research, to take on what may seem intimidating, especially for social science and humanities students: tackling a research project in 12 short weeks. Socially, the Social Media Collective and other interns at Microsoft Research New England were all amazingly nice and fun people, with whom I made great memories. Overall, the internship was an invaluable experience for my intellectual and professional development.”— Penny Trieu, Information, University of Michigan
“There are four main reasons why I consider the summer I spent as an intern with the Social Media Collective to be a formative experience in my career. 1. was the opportunity to work one-on-one with the senior scholars on my own project, and the chance to see “behind the scenes” on how they approach their own work. 2. The environment created by the SMC is one of openness and kindness, where scholars encourage and help each other do their best work. 3. hearing from the interdisciplinary members of the larger MSR community, and presenting work to them, required learning how to engage people in other fields. And finally, 4. the lasting effect: Between senior scholars and fellow interns, you become a part of a community of researchers and create friendships that extend well beyond the period of your internship.” — Stacy Blasiola, Facebook UX Research
“This internship provided me with the opportunity to challenge myself beyond what I thought was possible within three months. With the SMC’s guidance, support, and encouragement, I was able to reflect deeply about my work while also exploring broader research possibilities by learning about the SMC’s diverse projects and exchanging ideas with visiting scholars. This experience will shape my research career and, indeed, my life for years to come.” — Stefanie Duguay, Communication Studies, Concordia University, Canada
“My internship with Microsoft Research was a crash course in what a thriving academic career looks like. The weekly meetings with the research group provided structure and accountability, the stream of interdisciplinary lectures sparked intellectual stimulation, and the social activities built community. I forged relationships with peers and mentors that I would never have met in my graduate training.” — Kate Zyskowski, Facebook UX Research
“It has been an extraordinary experience for me to be an intern at Social Media Collective. Coming from a computer science background, communicating and collaborating with so many renowned social science and media scholars teaches me, as a researcher and designer of socio-technical systems, to always think of these systems in their cultural, political and economic context and consider the ethical and policy challenges they raise. Being surrounded by these smart, open and insightful people who are always willing to discuss with me when I met problems in the project, provide unique perspectives to think through the problems and share the excitements when I got promising results is simply fascinating. And being able to conduct a mixed-method research that combines qualitative insights with quantitative methodology makes the internship just the kind of research experience that I have dreamed for.” — Ming Yin, Computer Science, Purdue 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, Film & Media Studies, University of Kansas
“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, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University