Savannah worked for the Demographics Research Group on numerous projects from assisting with a report on the demographic impact of the Civil War to helping to develop a blog post on fertility trends in Virginia.
“It was also amazing how we all came from different backgrounds and sometimes had differing opinions, but the community was so respectful and everyone’s voice was heard."
Research Assistant, Demographics Research Group
Savannah was a second-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying Economics, when she started working for the Cooper Center.
Why did you choose to intern with the Cooper Center, Demographics Group?
I had a long-standing interest in demographics and I scheduled a meeting with Qian Cai to learn more about what the group does and what kind of education one needs to get involved with a group like the Demographics Group. When presented with the chance to apply for a student research assistant position, I applied because I found the work interesting and I wanted to learn to contribute to the work of researchers. I also liked the organization of the office and I wanted some exposure to the work environment of a policy center.
What were some of the projects you worked on during your internship?
The largest project I worked on was Hamilton Lombard's project on the demographic impact of the Civil War. Specifically, I identified county boundary lines that changed during the decades preceding and following the Civil War. I aggregated counties with boundary changes to larger county-combinations to keep geographic areas consistent for his analysis. Finally, I matched the Census data to the appropriate county-combination. Additionally, I worked with Shonel Sen to publish an article on fertility trends in Virginia on the StatChat website.
What did you learn as a result of this work experience?
I valued the exposure to the inner-workings of a policy center. Previously, I didn't know anything about this kind of job or the skills required to become a researcher. Working with the Demographics Group allowed me to build my knowledge in statistics and R. It also pushed me to pursue more technical classes in schools so that I could better understand and contribute to research.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
I really enjoyed the people! The Demographics Group has a fantastic working environment and everyone there cares about the work they do.
Would you recommend working at the Cooper Center to future students?
Yes. I believe the Cooper Center as a whole is an environment that is very friendly to students. At least in the Demographics Group, the researchers were willing to help me learn and build skills while also giving me meaningful tasks that kept the work fun and interesting.