Shayne has worked as a research analyst for the Center for Survey Research since his first year at UVA assisting with all phases of a survey research project, including serving as the designated ArcGIS expert for CSR.
“One of the recent things I've enjoyed doing at CSR is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup I am a part of. Between Kara Fitzgibbon's efforts to center DEI initiatives at CSR and Larry Terry's similar commitment to DEI across the Cooper Center, I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that places such high value on equity and justice--not just through words, but also through actions. "
Research Analyst, Center for Survey Research
When Shayne started at CSR, he was a first year student at UVA and is now in his fifth year of his PhD program in Sociology, focusing on media, gender/sexuality, art, and popular culture.
Why did you choose to intern with the Weldon Cooper Center, Center for Survey Research (CSR)?
The sociology department has a class that all first-year graduate students take which introduces them to faculty in the department. Tom Guterbock came to speak and discussed his work with CSR. Despite my own research being largely qualitative, in the 5 years between getting my masters degree and starting my PhD at UVA, I worked in LGBTQ public health research and was well-versed in coding and data visualization. I was hoping to find an opportunity that allowed me to continue to develop these skills once I started grad school (again). Tom mentioned a need for someone with ArcGIS knowledge, which I had acquired at my previous job. It was a perfect match and I've been happily working at CSR ever since, summers included!
What projects did you work on during your internship?
In my capacity as a research analyst, I get to work on a wide variety of tasks and projects. I assist at all phases of a survey research project--from planning, all the way through to distribution of results. I'm also the designated ArcGIS person at CSR (though I know there are many folks within the broader WCCPS who are much more well-versed in the program than I am!) and I love being able to put those skills to use, as needs come up. Additionally, given my background in sociology and my qualitative research skills, I've also been able to do some interviewing for a few projects, which has been a fun experience too, and has allowed me to hone my interviewing skills outside of my own niche research.
What have you learned as a result of working at CSR?
People are always surprised when I share that basically all of my statistical software knowledge comes from learning on the job at CSR. I came in with a background in SQL coding, but had never really used statistical software alongside that... in that sense, CSR has given me truly invaluable skills! I've also learned a lot about the process of community-driven research, holistically. Seeing many research projects through from inception to dissemination is one of my favorite parts of the job, and also incredibly eye-opening.
Has your experience in the CSR helped you in your academic studies, given you skills you can use in a future career or helped you to think differently about your academic and/or career path?
While I am still holding out hope for the elusive tenure-track teaching job when I graduate, CSR has shown me that I could absolutely pursue a career in survey research and enjoy it! In general, I think CSR has given me a hugely valuable opportunity to amass a skillset that is highly marketable outside academia. I think every PhD graduate enters the job market with a healthy amount of anxiety and uncertainty, but CSR has given me more hope and job prospects than I would have otherwise. I'm very grateful for that.
What did you enjoy most about your internship?
CSR has given me a really unique, valuable opportunity to hone (largely quantitative) research skills outside of my own work. I like being able to switch gears and use a different part of my brain (and skillset) than I do as a mostly-qualitative researcher. I also like that I can continue working collaboratively in a team research environment--this was one of the things I loved about my pre-grad school job, and I'm thrilled to be able to continue that kind of work throughout my graduate studies. Dissertating can be a really isolating, lonely experience (especially during a pandemic), and CSR is a great counter to that.
Would you recommend working at the CSR to future students?
I would absolutely recommend working at CSR. I've had a wonderful experience so far and intend to remain with CSR throughout the duration of my time at UVA, or as long as they'll have me! I can't overstate how important CSR has been for me in balancing my own work, skills, and career development. I would definitely encourage any student, but especially those who are thinking about non-tenure-track/non-teaching jobs to seek out opportunities like CSR.
One of the recent things I've enjoyed doing at CSR is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup I am a part of. Between Kara Fitzgibbon's efforts to center DEI initiatives at CSR and Larry Terry's similar commitment to DEI across the Cooper Center, I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that places such high value on equity and justice--not just through words, but also through actions.