Background

The Marriage Strengthening Research and Dissemination Center (MAST Center) supports research and evaluation on marriage, relationships, and families in the United States to help inform marriage and relationship education (MRE) programs. Our work has three primary objectives:

  1. To contribute to the research and evaluation knowledge base in three priority areas: (a) relationship patterns and trends, (b) program design and implementation, and (c) program effectiveness and evaluation;
  2. To build capacity in MRE and related research and evaluation fields through (a) research-to-practice tools and resources and (b) mentorship and support of emerging scholars;
  3. To communicate and disseminate research and tools to diverse audiences.

The MAST Center was established in 2018 by a five-year cooperative agreement from the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration of Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The MAST Center’s activities are guided by our Steering Committee, a team of national experts in marriage and relationship research and evaluation from Child Trends, Public Strategies, the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, and OPRE.

As part of its efforts, the MAST Center created the Graduate Internship Program to support students, including those from historically underrepresented backgrounds, and build the pipeline of researchers and evaluators studying marriage and relationships in the United States. As part of this program, the Center will select one graduate-level student or recent master’s graduate to participate in a six-month internship with the MAST Center from January through July 2020.

Program Description

The MAST Center Graduate Internship Program is open to graduate students in master’s or Ph.D. programs, as well as individuals who completed a master’s program within the last year. We seek applicants who demonstrate a strong interest in further developing their research expertise in one of the Center’s Priority Areas: 1) relationship patterns and trends; 2) MRE program design and implementation; and 3) MRE program effectiveness and evaluation. Applicants with interest in the following populations are encouraged to apply: youth, youth in or aging out of the child welfare system, families who are economically disadvantaged, rural families, and families from underrepresented minority populations. The Intern will be part of the MAST Center’s Child Trends team. Child Trends is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, and protected veterans and individuals with disability are encouraged to apply.

Overview: MAST Center team members from Child Trends will work with the Intern to develop a work plan that complements or supports ongoing Center research or building capacity activities and that is aligned with the individual’s skills and interests. This work will contribute to the research and evaluation knowledge base in three priority areas: (a) relationship patterns and trends, (b) program design and implementation, and (c) program effectiveness and evaluation. Examples of possible internship activities include:

  • Research Projects. Work with MAST Center team members on:
    • A research brief on culturally-responsive research and evaluation in the MRE field.
    • A research brief that synthesizes what is known about the federally-funded Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) programs that serve youth.
    • A research brief which reviews current MRE evaluation evidence to determine which programs or program components work for which subgroups.
  • Building Capacity Projects. Work with MAST Center team members to:
    • Develop a tool for reviewing MRE resources and MAST Center products for cultural responsiveness.
    • Identify and review resources to be included in the online resource library for MRE practitioners, evaluators, and researchers.
    • Help develop content for the MAST Center’s online networking forum (e.g., design discussion prompts on research and evaluation for practitioners and/or emerging scholars).

Mentorship: The Intern will be matched with one of the Center’s Child Trends team members who will serve as a mentor. This mentor will meet weekly with the Intern and help to identify the scope of the work/project to be completed by the Intern during the program. The Intern will also receive support from other Center staff, as appropriate, to further support their overall professional development goals. The Intern will have access to other professional development resources offered to staff at Child Trends as well, such as trainings on data visualization, networking, project management, and more.

Networking/Additional Involvement: The Intern will attend the biweekly Steering Committee calls of the MAST Center as appropriate. They will share their proposed work plan with the MAST Center Steering Committee at the beginning of the program and a Final Report at the end. The Intern will have an opportunity to attend the Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) scheduled for May 27-29, 2020 in Washington, DC with members of the MAST Center team. Travel costs associated with attendance of RECS will be paid for by the MAST Center.

Funding: We will fund one person for the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program in 2020. We estimate that the average time commitment for program related activities will be approximately one day per week for six months (January through July with flexible start/end dates). The Intern will be paid an hourly rate of $25 and receive up to $4,875 total for the internship period.

Location: Candidates near one of Child Trends’ offices (Bethesda, MD, Waltham, MA, Minneapolis, MN, or Chapel Hill, NC) will have the option to report to a physical location or work remotely. We are also able to provide a remote internship experience for candidates in some areas (see below for requirements).

Experience, Education, and Location Requirements

  1. Currently enrolled and in good standing in a graduate program as a master’s or Ph.D. student, or a recent graduate of a master’s program (within one year).
  2. Strong interest in pursuing a research or evaluation career related to marriage and/or relationship education, especially among youth, youth in or aging out of the child welfare system, families who are economically disadvantaged, rural families, and families from underrepresented minority populations.
  3. Applicants with an interest in enhancing cultural responsiveness in research and evaluation are strongly encouraged to apply.
  4. Able to physically or remotely report to one of Child Trends’ offices (Bethesda, MD, Boston, MA, Minneapolis, MN, or Chapel Hill, NC) or participate remotely from one of the following areas: AZ, CA, CT, CO, GA, IL, MI, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OK, PA, TX, or WI. If remote, the Intern must have access to a personal computer and reliable internet connection.

Application Requirements

Interested applicants are required to submit their applications with the following components by 5:00 PM Eastern on Monday, November 18, 2019.

  1. Letter of interest (no more than four, double-spaced pages) that includes the applicant’s:
  • contact information (e.g., name, address, phone number(s), email address),
  • statement indicating how you found out about this program,
  • graduate institution, program, and expected completion date (for current students), or current position and master’s graduation date (for recent graduates)
  • personal statement that:
    • Describes the applicant’s interest in and what they hope to gain from the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program experience, including their relevant educational and professional development goals and any qualitative and/or quantitative analytic experience.
    • Describes why the applicant is interested in research or evaluation on marriage and/or relationship education.
    • Expresses an interest in issues that fall within one or more of the Center’s priority areas: (1) relationship patterns and trends, (2) MRE program design and implementation, and/or (3) MRE program effectiveness and evaluation.
    • Summarizes any specific class or work related schedules or commitments that you would like us to be aware of for the internship period (January to July 2020).
  1. Current resume or curriculum vitae (CV) providing information about the applicant’s educational background, publications, presentations, and any professional or public policy experience related to the work of the Center.
  2. One letter of recommendation from a current or former graduate program advisor or faculty member that specifically addresses:
    • The applicant’s relevant background and qualifications, including training and research experience(s).
    • Professional development goals, interests, or needs pertinent to the goals of the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program.
    • Verification of the applicant’s current graduate program status or recent completion of master’s program requirements.

All components of the application (letter of interest, resume/CV, and letter of recommendation) must be submitted online through Child Trends’ career page. If you have any issues with the submission process, please email a combined PDF to (recruitment@childtrends.org), referencing the “MAST Center Graduate Internship Program” in the subject line.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated by members of the MAST Center Steering Committee according to the following criteria:

  1. Alignment of research and evaluation interests with one or more of the Center’s primary objectives.
  2. Professional development goals and the extent to which participation in the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program will advance those goals.
  3. Quantitative and/or qualitative analytic experience, writing skills, and other relevant experience aligned with the Center’s priority areas.
  4. Letter of recommendation demonstrates the applicant’s background, interests and experiences, pursuits and accomplishments thus far, and professional development goals.

Applicants will be notified whether they have been selected for an interview by Monday, December 2, 2019. Interviews will occur December 9-12, 2019 with notification of final decisions by Wednesday, December 18, 2019. The anticipated start date for the internship is Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Contact Information and Questions

For additional program information, you can reference FAQs about the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program below. You may also email mastrd@childtrends.org and recruitment@childtrends.org referencing the “MAST Center Graduate Internship Program” in the subject line. No phone calls please.


FAQs about the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program

  1. What is the goal of the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program?

The goal of the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program is to expand the pipeline of emerging scholars, including those from historically underrepresented backgrounds, pursuing research and evaluation professions related to marriage and relationship education.

  1. Who is eligible for the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program?

The MAST Center Graduate Internship Program is open to students in master’s or Ph.D. programs, as well as individuals who completed a master’s program within the last year.

  1. What is the duration of the program? Are the dates of the flexible?

The program will span a 6-month period starting in January 2020 and ending in July 2020.

  • We recognize that academic schedules vary considerably from one university to another. As such, the specific dates of the program can be negotiated, as necessary, to match the selected applicant’s academic schedule, while still meeting the requirements of the Internship Program. A suggested start date is January 16, 2020.
  • We estimate that the Intern will spend approximately one day a week, on average, on Center related activities.
  1. What is expected of me as a MAST Center Graduate Intern?

The Intern will:

  • Work with the Center’s Child Trends team to develop and implement a work plan that complements or supports ongoing Center research or building capacity activities and that is aligned with the individual’s skills and interests. This work will contribute to the research and evaluation knowledge base in three priority areas: (a) relationship patterns and trends, (b) program design and implementation, and (c) program effectiveness and evaluation.
  • Be matched with one of the Center’s Child Trends team members who will serve as a mentor. This mentor will work with the Intern to identify the scope of the work to be completed during the program. The Intern will also receive support from other Center staff, as appropriate, to further support their overall professional development goals.
  • Meet with their mentor by phone or videoconference call to develop their Initial Work Plan and present their proposed work plan to the MAST Center Steering Committee at the beginning of the program. The Intern will also submit a Progress Report at the mid-point of their program and a Final Report at the end, summarizing their experience and documenting the completion of any specific reports, briefs, or other products proposed in their work plan.
  • As appropriate, contribute to other capacity building and/or research products or activities that are part of the Center’s work plan.
  • Participate by phone or videoconference call in the biweekly Center Steering Committee meetings, as appropriate for tasks outlined in the Intern’s work plan.
  1. What type of guidance/oversight will be available to me as an Intern?
  • The Intern will be matched with one of the Center’s Child Trends team members to further develop and/or expand upon ongoing work within the Center’s primary objectives. The Intern will also receive support from their mentor and other Center staff, as appropriate, to further support their overall professional development goals.
  • The Intern will attend the biweekly Steering Committee calls of the MAST Center as needed to support their work. They will also be able to participate in some of the Center’s building capacity efforts, such as contributing to the development of webinars, presentations, mentoring/networking activities, etc.
  • The Intern will receive feedback on their work from the Center’s Steering Committee.
  • The Center will actively facilitate the Intern’s connection to other emerging scholars, researchers in the field, key organizations, and Federal agencies that may be of interest to the Intern’s longer-term professional development.
  1. Where is the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program located?

The MAST Center Graduate Internship Program can support an on-site or remote intern currently located near one of Child Trends’ physical office locations in Bethesda, MD, Boston, MA, Minneapolis, MN, or Chapel Hill, NC. Interns can also participate remotely if they are located in one of the following areas: AZ, CA, CT, CO, GA, IL, MI, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OK, PA, TX, or WI. Interns who participate remotely must have access to a personal computer and reliable internet connection. Whether on-site or remote, the Intern will have regular check-ins with their mentor and Center leadership.

  1. What is the amount paid to the MAST Center Graduate Intern?

The Intern will be paid $25 per hour up to $4,875 total for the internship period. We estimate that the average time commitment for program related activities will be approximately one day per week for six months (January through July 2020).

  1. How many MAST Center Graduate Interns will be funded this year?

The Center anticipates selecting one intern in 2020.

  1. I have other projects and grants underway. Will it still be possible for me to continue work on them during the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program?

The internship is expected to occur concurrently with graduate school work or outside post graduate work. We estimate that the time commitment devoted to internship activities will be approximately one day a week.

  1. Who should apply for the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program?

Individuals enrolled in master’s or Ph.D. programs, as well as individuals who completed a master’s program within the last year, who have a strong interest in pursuing a research or evaluation career related to marriage and/or relationship education should apply. We are especially interested in applicants with a strong interest in addressing these topics among youth, youth in or aging out of the child welfare system, families who are economically disadvantaged, rural families, and families from underrepresented minority populations. Applicants with an interest in enhancing cultural responsiveness in research and evaluation are also strongly encouraged to apply. The Intern will be part of the MAST Center’s Child Trends team. Child Trends is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, and protected veterans and individuals with disability are encouraged to apply.

  1. Can advanced doctoral students or post-docs apply for the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program?

No, the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program is currently only open to individuals enrolled in master’s or Ph.D. programs, as well as individuals who completed a master’s program within the last year.

  1. Do I need to be a U.S. Citizen to apply for the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program?

The position does not have citizenship requirements. However, the Intern must be authorized to work in the United States and will be asked to complete USCIS form i-9 on their first day.

  1. How do I know if my research and evaluation interests are a good fit with the MAST Center?

The MAST Center supports research and evaluation on marriage, relationships, and families in the United States to help inform marriage and relationship education (MRE) programs. Please see the description of the Center and the priority areas to determine if your interests are a good fit. The Center is funded by the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE). You can learn more about OPRE’s healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) initiatives here.

  1. Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the MAST Center Graduate Internship Program?

If you have any questions, please contact mastrd@childtrends.org and recruitment@childtrends.org referencing the position in the subject line. No phone calls please.