Position Description

Research Assistant - Now Hiring For Multiple Positions
Location New York, NY; Oakland or Los Angeles, CA
Job Code 2020-15
# of Openings 7
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Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of low-income people and communities, being part of a diverse and multidisciplinary staff, turning research findings into better public policies, and having hands-on involvement in building better programs? Consider an opportunity with MDRC to be involved in the cutting edge of social policy research methodology.

MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and education policy research organization that works to find solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation — from reducing poverty and bolstering economic self-sufficiency to improving public education and college graduation rates. We design promising new interventions, evaluate existing programs using the highest research standards, and provide technical assistance to build better programs and deliver effective interventions at scale. MDRC is currently seeking Research Assistants to work in our dynamic and challenging environment. Candidates with immediate availability or who are graduating in winter 2020 are encouraged to apply.


  • Assisting in general project and management support for multiple projects, including scheduling meetings, taking notes, managing project organization databases, communicating with team members about timelines and responsibilities, updating work plans, and drafting progress reports
  • Providing assistance to project teams in the planning and execution of research or technical assistance, which may include:
    • Preparing literature reviews
    • Participating in qualitative research, such as coding, organizing and attending site visits (site visits are being held virtually until in-person travel is safe) to support data collection efforts through conducting interviews, note taking, documentation, or observation.
    • Supporting program operations working with technical assistance teams in coordination with partnering agencies, schools, and nonprofits, on activities that include documenting communications, and scheduling, preparing for, and participating in site visits and trainings.
  • Supporting the production and coordination of reports, proposals, and other deliverables which may include coordinating across multiple authors; memo writing; literature searches; preparing figures, charts, and tables; fact-checking and documentation
  • Performing other tasks and duties reasonably related to job responsibilities


Strong candidates will have:

  • BA/BS in psychology, economics, public policy, sociology, or related social science field
  • Demonstrated interest in social policy issues
  • Basic understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Strong time management skills
  • Comfortable working in a team-oriented, fast-paced environment
  • Strong writing and verbal communication skills
  • Demonstrated sensitivity to engaging individuals from vulnerable populations or organizations that serve individuals from those populations
  • Proficiency in written and oral Spanish is a plus
  • Previous experience working in a nonprofit or as a research assistant is a plus

Applicants may indicate one or more policy areas of interest: 

  • Family Well-Being and Children’s Development. Focus on evaluating early childhood education programs, strategies to improve family relationships, and interventions that focus on both parents and their children.
  • K-12 Education. Focus on learning what works best to improve students' socio-emotional development and academic success in elementary, middle, and high school, concentrating particularly on improving student outcomes in low-performing schools and preparing students for college and career.
  • Postsecondary Education. Focus on developing projects to help low-income young adults succeed in school and the labor market. Work with community colleges to test innovative ways to increase students’ persistence and academic achievement.
  • Low-Wage Workers and Communities. Focus on testing initiatives that increase pathways to economic mobility, including job retention and advancement, housing-related interventions or policies, supports for low-income working parents and their families and broader financial inclusion, and other strategies aimed at improving the quality of life in high-poverty communities.
  • Youth, Criminal Justice, and Employment. Focus on identifying the most effective ways to improve labor market outcomes for disadvantaged young people and low-income populations facing a range of barriers to employment, including criminal justice involvement, substance use disorders, and disabilities.

Timing: Applications should be submitted by Friday, January 8, 2021.

While all applications received by the deadline will be reviewed, interviews will be scheduled on a rolling basis. Anticipated start dates are in January 2021 and beyond until all positions are filled. Please see “What to expect from MDRC’s recruitment process” for more information.

Location: The position can be based in either MDRC’s New York City office or its Oakland, California, office, but we anticipate remote work through mid-2021.

Compensation and benefits: Salary will be commensurate with experience. Comprehensive benefits and relocation assistance offered. Some on-the-job training is provided.

Instructions: When submitting your application, please include:

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • Writing sample
  • Names of three references
  • You may also select policy areas of interest

Only candidates selected for further consideration will be contacted. Please note that the health and safety of our employees and candidates is very important to us and that interviews (when scheduled) will be conducted via video conferencing.

MDRC is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. MDRC does not discriminate, and all qualified applications will receive consideration without regard to race; color; national origin; religion; creed; sex or gender (including sex stereotyping and gender identity or expression); sexual orientation; citizenship status; pregnancy; disability; age; military or veteran status; marital or partnership status; genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status; prior unemployment status; consumer credit history; status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking; or any other category protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws. Legal work authorization is required.

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