Applied Research and Policy
The Labor Summer Applied Research and Policy track teaches students applied research skills that are used in unions and community organizations. Students get the opportunity to learn from union and policy researchers involved in some of the nation’s most exciting and important organizing and policy campaigns that are making a difference for working people, especially immigrants and people of color.
Students who apply for this track may engage in a variety of applied research and advocacy activities depending on the needs of the host organization, such as:
- Finding and compiling secondary data for corporate, industry, and issue analysis
- Collecting primary data using interviews and other qualitative methods
- Analyzing legislation and policy proposals at the state and local levels
- Analyzing and summarizing financial statements and other budget documents
- Cleaning and analyzing data sets using programs like Excel, STATA, SPSS, or R
- Writing reports, memos, policy briefs, and talking points for labor and community leaders
- Giving presentations and making recommendations to diverse audiences
Interns in this track participate in a two-day applied research workshop during orientation week, where they learn from researchers working at labor unions and community-based organizations. They will learn how applied research can help shape strategy and campaign planning in a labor environment.
Research track applicants should have previous training in either qualitative or quantitative methods and want to learn how to apply these methods to real-world labor organizing and policy campaigns. It is also important for research interns to be able to take initiative and work independently.
Past Applied Research and Policy interns have:
- Researched pesticide use in the Northern California wine industry and interviewed agricultural workers who are leading a campaign for safer working conditions (North Bay Jobs with Justice)
- researched low-wage jobs in Silicon Valley and their economic impact regionally as well as on individual workers (Working Partnerships USA);
- created surveys used as a tool for talking with electrical workers about job quality and working conditions (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 617);
- analyzed voting data from the U.S. Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to support Latinos building power in the Central Valley (UC Berkeley Labor Center);
- developed reports outlining barriers and options for licensed vocational nurses to become registered nurses (Service Employees International Union State Council);
- and collected resources and conducted interviews of labor and climate justice leaders to create worker-oriented training on climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy (UC Berkeley Labor Center Green Economy Program).
Students who have participated in Labor Summer’s Applied Research and Policy program have used the skills they learned long after their internships ended. Many of these interns remain connected to the labor movement, either with their host site or in a related organization. Some continue as graduate student researchers during the academic year; others find new topics for their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation; still others take permanent staff jobs with labor organizations as researchers, educators, and organizers.
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