ICPSR's Summer Undergraduate Interns for 2016 Answer the Question, "Why ICPSR?"

Patricia Martin, University of California at Santa Barbara, working in the Resource Center for Minority Data
I learned about the ICPSR program while searching for summer research programs. Initially I was enthralled by ICPSR’s focus on quantitative data management and processing. My true passion lies with qualitative research because I love to learn about people’s lived experiences. I want to understand the sense of the “why” behind certain phenomena. Although I have a bias for qualitative research, I knew I needed to expand my horizons in research methodology if I wanted to pursue a career in academia. As a rising senior I will be applying for graduate school programs in the fall and I was looking for a summer program that would be conducive to equipping me with a rich and well-rounded experience. ICPSR was the only program to offer the skills and training I was seeking, from data management, to coursework in statistics for social research, and my own independent research project. There is no doubt in my mind that I made the best decision in choosing ICPSR. In the short amount of time I have been an ICPSR intern, I have gained a new level of understanding and built connections not only with my cohort, but the ICPSR staff, summer program faculty and graduate students.

Nicolo Pinchak, Bowling Green State University, working in the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data
Because my university, Bowling Green State University, is a member institution, I was well aware of ICPSR's outstanding reputation across the social sciences. When I heard about their internship for undergraduates involving the Summer Program, I knew the experience would be unparalleled. Exploring other Summer programs only confirmed this – there simply are not other opportunities to be as holistically involved in the quantitative social research process. And the advertized data management techniques, independent research project, and individualized methods courses have only been half the experience. In addition to being paired with a highly supportive faculty member and experienced data processors, we benefit from the presence of each other – other like-minded, eager, aspirational undergraduates interested in social research, graduate school, and research careers.

Austin McKitrick, West Virginia University, working in the National Addiction & HIV Data Archive Program
As a double major in biology and psychology, I felt I had a strong background in applied research, but wasn’t sure how to correctly analyze the data in my senior theses. When searching for an internship program for the summer, I was immediately drawn to the ICPSR for their worldwide reputation in quantitative methodology. I found no other program that would give me the opportunity to learn statistical programming from a renowned staff, take rigorous course work alongside PhD candidates and professors from around the world, and work on an independent research project. The engaging environment that the ICPSR has created is one-of-a-kind and I don’t believe I could find anything else like it in a program. As I move on in my career, I know I will take the valuable skills the ICPSR has provided me and utilize them in my future research with discrimination and mental health in minority groups (specifically LGBT+ and ethnic minorities).

Elaine Vilorio, Amherst College, working with the ICPSR Members Archive
The undergraduate internship at ICPSR is unique. I genuinely didn't see anything like it as I applied to different institutions and organizations. At ICPSR, I'm able to learn about data from all sides. We learn how they're collected by engaging with social scientists and survey designers. We learn how data are processed first-hand by processing ourselves. We learn how to analyze data by engaging in our own research project. And just to ensure we have data theory down, we take statistics courses with graduate students and professors in ICPSR's Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research. As someone who comes from social science departments that lack quantitative methodology training, I knew ICPSR was the place for me.