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Research Intern - Social Media Collective

Microsoft Corporation
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Closing date
Jan 14, 2022

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Position Type
Research Scientist / Analyst
Full Time
Media Studies
Organization Type
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Virtual Internship
P* *articipation in the Research Internship Program requires that you are physically located in the United States or Canada for the duration of the internship.
Research Internships at Microsoft provide a dynamic environment for research careers with a network of world-class research labs led by globally-recognized scientists and engineers. Our researchers and engineers pursue innovation in a range of scientific and technical disciplines to help solve complex challenges in diverse fields, including computing, healthcare, economics, and the environment.
Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE), part of the global network of Microsoft Research Labs, 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 L. Gray, with current postdocs Niall Docherty and Karina Rider) brings together empirical and critical perspectives to understand the politicaland cultural dynamics that underpin social mediatechnologies. Our affiliated social science and humanistic researchers include full-time researchers, postdocs, interns, research assistants, and visitors. Our primary purpose is to bring rich contextual understandings to analyses of the social and cultural dynamics that underpin social media technologies. Our work spans several disciplines: anthropology, communication, economics, gender and sexuality studies, information, law, media studies, science & technology studies, and sociology.
Current projects in New England include:
- How do people build social capital with each other in remote and hybrid work, and how do those processes facilitate or harm inclusion?
- How do discourses and designs of ideal social media habits function within apparatuses of platform capitalism?
- How do social media platforms, through algorithmic design and content policies, serve as custodians of public discourse?
- What are the cultural, political, and ethical implications of on-demand platform economies as new forms and sites of semi-automated, globally distributed, digital labor?
- What are the sociocultural factors shaping the development, structure, and activities of 'tech for good' initiatives?
For more information about the Social Media Collective, and a list of past interns, visit the Aboutpage of our blog ( ).
Interns put inquiry and theory into practice. Alongside fellow doctoral candidates and some of the world's best researchers, interns learn, collaborate, and network for life. Interns not only advance their own careers, but they also contribute to exciting research and development strides. During the 12-week internship, students are paired with mentors and expected to collaborate with other interns and researchers, present findings, and contribute to the vibrant life of the community. Research internships are available in all areas of research, and are offered year-round, though they typically begin in the summer.
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.
We are looking for applicants working inone or more of the following areas:
- Personal relationships and digital media
- Race and technology
- Relationships in hybrid work
- Creator economies
- Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor
- Howplatforms, through their design and policies, shape public discourse
- The politics of algorithms, metrics, and big datafor a computational culture
- The political economies of on-demand labor
- Collective, community-based approaches to content review and moderation
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.
In addition to the qualifications below, you'll need to submit a minimum of two reference letters for this position. 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.
Required Qualifications
- Applicants musthave advanced to candidacy in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (approximately May 2022).
Unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master's students or early PhD students at this time.
P* *articipation in the Research Internship Program requires that you are physically located in the United States or Canada for the duration of the internship.
Preferred Qualifications
Applicants from historically marginalized communities and those underrepresented in higher education are encouraged to apply. (Unfortunately, due to a range of legal matters, this year candidates must be (1) physically located in, (2) authorized to work in, AND (3) enrolled in a university in either the U.S. or Canada, at the time of application and internship.)
Your application needs to include:
- 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. The 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 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). Feel free to attach a separate citations page-we will not include that in the page count.
- An 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.
- 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 and email contact information for two academic letters of reference (one contact must be your dissertation advisor).
- Note that we cannot request letters until you submit your application.
- We will count your application as ON TIME, as long as we have your materials. Encourage your letter writers to send their references for you once they receive a request to do so.
- Please alert your letter writers in advance and ask them to look for a letter request from a email alias (often, this email ends up in email Spam Folders).
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 histories, consistent with legal requirements. If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form ( .
Benefits/perks listed below may vary depending on the nature of your employment with Microsoft and the country where you work.
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