Research Intern - Social Media Collective

Last updated 9 days ago
Location:Cambridge, Massachusetts
Job Type:Full Time

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) 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 postdoc Niall Docherty) brings 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. It includes full-time researchers, postdocs, interns, 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.

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 do people build social capital with each other in remote and hybrid work, and how do those processes facilitate or harm inclusion? (Nancy Baym)
  • How do discourses and designs of ideal social media habits function within apparatuses of platform capitalism? (Niall Docherty)
  • How do social media platforms, through algorithmic design and content policies, serve as custodians of public discourse? (Tarleton Gillespie)
  • 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? (Mary L. Gray)

For more information about the Social Media Collective, and a list of past interns, visit the About page of our blog. 

NOTE: Make sure to check out the SMC blog for a separate call from the indefatigable danah boyd, our fellow SMC’er in the NYC lab. 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

Responsibilities

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.

Primary mentors for this year will be Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary L. Gray with additional guidance offered by other members of the SMC. We are looking for applicants working in one or more of the following areas:

  1. Personal relationships and digital media
  2. Audiences and the shifting landscapes of producer/consumer relations
  3. Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor
  4. How platforms, through their design and policies, shape public discourse
  5. The politics of algorithms, metrics, and big data for a computational culture
  6. The political economies of on-demand labor
  7. The difference between traditional cooperatively-managed markets and Commons and online platform cooperatives
  8. Collective, community-based approaches to content review and moderation
  9. The gender and cultural politics of algorithmic detection of pronouns
  10. 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

Qualifications

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 Qualification

  • Applicants must have advanced to candidacy (or the equivalent of completing qualification exams) in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (approximately May 2021). Unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early PhD students at this time.

Applications must be received no later than January 11, 2021

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:

1) A short description (no more than 2 pages, single-spaced) of 1 project (no more than 2 ideas, please) 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?

2) A brief description of your dissertation project (no more than 1 page, single-spaced).

3) An academic article-length manuscript (~7,000 or more) that you have authored or co-authored (published or unpublished) that demonstrates your writing skills.

4) A copy of your CV.

5) If available, pointers to your website or other online presence(this is not required).

In addition to the qualifications above, 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 Mary L. Gray at mLg@microsoft.com and include “SMC 2020 PhD Internship” in the subject line.

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.