Applied Research and Policy

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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 should be comfortable with, or want to learn how to do, the following:

  • collecting data using interviews and other qualitative research techniques
  • analyzing data sets using such programs as Excel, STATA or SPSS
  • analyzing and summarizing financial statements
  • analyzing legislation and policy proposals at the state and local government levels
  • helping stakeholders understand legal and regulatory compliance issues in select industries
  • helping shape strategy and campaign planning
  • writing reports, memos, policy briefs, and talking points for labor and community leaders
  • working independently and/or remotely
  • giving presentations on research and producing written reports

Strategic Research Workshop

As a part of the orientation, Applied Research and Policy interns participate in the Labor Center’s two-day Strategic Research Workshop, which is also attended by researchers working at labor unions and community-based organizations. Together they learn the basics of strategic and policy research in a labor environment, as well as some labor economics.

Past Applied Research and Policy interns have:

  • 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 trainings on climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy (UC Berkeley Green Economy Program).

Career opportunities

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.

"This experience really grounded me and helped me focus on why I do what I do in school and how important it is for academia to ground itself outside of the campus walls. If you're interested in social change and learning, this is an amazing opportunity to do both."
- Labor Summer Intern