Work on the Cutting Edge of Social Research Methodology
MDRC conducts experimental studies using methods that provide the best evidence to build knowledge in the social and education policy fields. It is not enough to find out what works; research must learn why and how programs work. MDRC is known for large-scale studies using random assignment and other rigorous quantitative methods, but our staff also call upon an array of qualitative techniques — ethnography, case studies rooted in field research, surveys, focus groups, classroom observations, case file reviews, and in-depth interviewing — to complement our quantitative analyses.
Unique Blend of Rigorous Research and Hands-On Involvement in Real Programs
In addition to evaluating current programs, MDRC develops demonstration projects to field-test the best practices identified in our research. Playing the dual roles of technical assistance provider and evaluator, our challenge is to build strong programs worthy of rigorous testing and reliable research designs that can tell us whether the next generation of policies and interventions are effective.
Impact on Policy
MDRC's mission is to ensure that our evidence informs policy and practice and is accessible to a broad audience. We produce clearly written research reports as well as policy briefs, "how-to" guides, and videos that distill the results of our studies and discuss their implications.
With the active participation of our research staff, we widely disseminate our findings — to the media and public interest groups, in testimony before Congress and state legislatures, through news bulletins e-mailed to more than 12,000 people, and via our award-winning Web site, which receives more than 100,000 visitors a month.
Created in 1974 by the Ford Foundation and a group of federal agencies, MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve programs and policies that affect the poor. MDRC is best known for mounting large-scale demonstrations and evaluations of real-world policies and programs targeted to low-income people. We helped pioneer the use of random assignment — the same highly reliable methodology used to test new medicines — in our evaluations. From welfare policy to high school reform, MDRC’s work has helped to shape legislation, program design, and operational practices across the country. Working in fields where emotion and ideology often dominate public debates, MDRC is a source of objective, unbiased evidence about cost-effective solutions that can be replicated and expanded to scale.
|Over the years, MDRC has brought its unique approach to an ever-growing range of policy areas and target populations. Once known primarily for evaluations of state welfare-to-work programs, we also study public school reforms, employment programs for ex-prisoners and people with disabilities, and programs to help low-income people succeed in college. We are known not only for the high quality, integrity, and rigor of our research, but also for our commitment to building evidence and improving practice in partnership with school districts; community colleges; federal, state, and local governments; foundations; and community-based organizations.|
MDRC has worked in nearly every state and most major cities, in Canada, and in the United Kingdom. We are funded by government agencies and some 70 private, family, and corporate foundations. With a staff of more than 250 in New York City and Oakland, California, MDRC is engaged in close to 80 projects in five policy areas: Family Well-Being and Children’s Development, K-12 Education, Young Adults and Postsecondary Education, Low-Wage Workers and Communities, and Health and Barriers to Employment.
MDRC was founded as the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. However, in 2003, we made “MDRC” the registered corporate identity of our organization, thereby formally adopting the name by which we had become best known to our professional colleagues and the general public.
In little more than a decade, MDRC has built a strong reputation as a respected, trustworthy source of information about what works to improve students prospects for academic success in elementary, middle, and high school and about what it takes to put effective interventions into place.
For low-income people, community colleges offer an important pathway out of poverty and into better jobs. But a host of factors, including inadequate financial aid or student services and poor developmental classes, can keep them from enrolling in and completing postsecondary education.
Only 68 of every 100 ninth-graders in public schools will complete high school on time. Among those who do graduate, many leave high school without developing the skills they need to succeed in the workplace or in postsecondary education.
Work and Income Security
Long regarded as the premier investigator of policies designed to improve the lives of low-income families on welfare, MDRC is bringing its research skills and reputation for methodological rigor to the new challenge of learning what works best to improve the economic and social health of low-income workers and communities.
Families with Children
MDRCʼs families and children studies aim to deepen public understanding of how the life chances of low-income children and youth are influenced by policies that affect their familiesʼ economic circumstances, family relationships, or the opportunities available for child and youth development.
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- Comp & Benefits
- Work/Life Balance
- Senior Management
- Culture & Values
- Career Opportunities
I worked at MDRC full-time (more than an year)Pros
Really great people, an explicit support of work-life balance, good benefits. This is a solid company that is growing and not going anywhere anytime soon.Cons
There is an uneven distribution of opportunities for growth - especially for generalist research assistants. Like many companies, the power structure is top-heavy with a lot of white men sitting there.Advice to ManagementAdvice
Diversify those in power. Consider a less hierarchical power structure.RecommendsPositive OutlookDisapproves of CEO
Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
- Application Details
I applied online. The process took 2+ months – interviewed at MDRC.Interview Details
After submitting the application, I got a call almost exactly 1 month later to schedule an initial 30-minute phone screening (they gave me a week to prepare for this initial interview). I didn't think it went too well but I got a call a few days after to schedule an in-person interview (Note: they pay for your travel expenses if you're considered a traveling applicant). I was snail-mailed a rejection letter 2 weeks after that.
The phone interview: I talked to someone who was a research assistant in the same area of focus I was applying to. The questions were basic and fell into two categories: behavioral questions and questions about experience. I would recommend having a copy of your resume at hand.
In-person interview: There were five interview, beginning with someone from HR, then with a research assistant, then a research analyst, and so on with higher-level positions.
I was told by the HR rep that in case of advancing past this interview, there would be even more interviews. I wasn't told how many but I gathered that it would be at least 2 more. I was also told that they might take anywhere from 2-5 weeks to let me know my status. The rest of the interview consisted solely of logistics (benefits, salary, etc.). You should probably have a couple of questions at hand to ask HR, since they do give you time to ask them.
My next two interviewers were really nice. They told me some things about the city, the pros and cons of the work, etc. Although they asked several questions, the experience felt a lot more like a conversation. The questions were of the same sort as the phone interview, behavioral or about my experience. You'll get a ridiculous aptitude test in the first of these two (15 minutes to do it). It's not difficult, but the instructions are somewhat vague and when I asked for clarification, the person just kind of laughed told me "Don't even worry about it". So it seems like it's not an important part of the interview, but I suppose it can only hurt you to do badly in it.
The interview process after that was less friendly. The next person was so strange. She was respectful, but when we said our introductions she just stared at me instead of kicking off the interview. Maybe it's a tactic used to gauge how comfortable you feel in strange situations. Regardless it was really uncomfortable. She talked a lot and the interview ended abruptly. Nice person but strange.
Overall it was a good experience. They're a good organization, they do important work, and the people are nice. The reality of it is they can afford to be very picky with the amount of candidates they get. Two things I didn't like:
1. The interview process itself is terrible for the candidates. Long and exhausting. The initial online apps are done through Taleo (software which I'm told is used to significantly cut down an applicant pool). On top of that there is a phone screening followed by an in-person interview. Had I gotten past that, I'd have to go through even more interviews. There's really no reason why they shouldn't be able to give a definite yes or no after the in-person interview.
2. The rejection letter was about as useful as a blank sheet of paper. If you get one, don't expect to have an idea of why you weren't selected. I won't quote directly but what I gathered was that they wanted more experience (something I could have been told during the phone interview).Interview Questions
No OfferPositive ExperienceAverage Interview
- Have you ever 'managed up'? They just want to know if you're able to lead others when you're the most knowledgeable in a certain topic View Answer
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MDRC is committed to finding 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...
Mission: "The driving force behind MDRC is a conviction that reliable evidence, well communicated, can make an important difference in social policy."