As a research assistant at the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, Lauren David, a senior majoring in English and Political Science, learned how to navigate both the qualitative and quantitative sides of being a research assistant.
The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) is a part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, and serves as “a leading venue for research, resources, and advocacy on college student political learning and engagement in democratic practice.”
Over the past two months, Lauren worked on many different projects throughout IDHE that were centered around civic engagement in higher education. Lauren said these projects served as “a comprehensive analysis of 18 college syllabi from 17 institutions that focused on elections and electoral processes – culminating in a resource for educators hoping to teach a course over an election, a restructuring of the IDHE publication, Election Imperatives 2.0, into a series of actionable steps for university officials and administration, and the chance to work on the data processing side of the 2019 National Report of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.”
“This summer has been one of the most transformative in my life, both personally and professionally,” Lauren said. “I have been pushed to think in new ways and encouraged to stretch the boundaries of my professional skills in a manner that is innovative and exciting.”
Professionally speaking, this opportunity fit in-line with Lauren’s career aspirations of completing a doctorate in Political Science, but even so, there’s a lot to learn and unlearn when conducting research for the first time.
“When I began this internship, I faced a steep learning curve related to data software and programming languages that at times felt overwhelming to me. However, over the past two months of constant care and mentorship from my coworkers coupled with dedication to learning these packages, I have been able to conquer that learning curve and have seen my skills increase dramatically,” Lauren said. “The ability to use this new learning to collaborate on data projects that will ultimately contribute fresh perspectives to the field of civic engagement was extremely rewarding.”
Before starting her internship, Lauren wishes she would have known “to take full advantage of the counsel and guidance that your mentors can provide. More often than not, they want nothing more than to share their wealth of knowledge and help you grow both personally and professionally.”