Summer Internship, MSR Social Media Collective

Deadline: 19 January 2018
Open to: advanced Ph.D. students
Benefits: salary


Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for advanced Ph.D. students to join the Social Media Collective (SMC) for its 12-week Internship program. The Social Media Collective (in New England, we are Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary Gray, with current postdocs Dan Greene and Dylan Mulvin) bring together empirical and critical perspectives to understand the political and cultural dynamics that underpin social media technologies. Learn more about us here.

MSRNE internships are 12-week paid stays in their lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During their stay, SMC interns are expected to devise and execute their own research project, distinct from the focus of their dissertation (see the project requirements below). The expected outcome is a draft of a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference of the intern’s choosing. Our goal is to help the intern advance their own career; interns are strongly encouraged to work towards a creative outcome that will help them in the academic job market.

The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines (including anthropology, communication, information studies, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or a related field), but should have a strong social scientific or humanistic methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to media or communication technologies and society or culture, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes computer scientists, mathematicians, and economists.


They are looking for applicants working in one or more of the following areas:

  1. Personal relationships and digital media;
  2. Audiences and the shifting landscapes of producer/consumer relations;
  3. Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor;
  4. How platforms, through their design and policies, shape public discourse;
  5. The politics of algorithms, metrics, and big data for a computational culture;
  6. The interactional dynamics, cultural understanding, or public impact of AI chatbots or intelligent agents.

Interns are also expected to give short presentations on their project, contribute to the SMC blog, attend the weekly lab colloquia, and contribute to the life of the community through weekly lunches with fellow Ph.D. interns and the broader lab community. There are also natural opportunities for collaboration with SMC researchers and visitors, and with others currently working at MSRNE, including computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians. Ph.D. interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship.

Applicants must have advanced to candidacy in their Ph.D. program by the time they start their internship. (Unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early Ph.D. students at this time). Applicants from historically marginalized communities, underrepresented in higher education, and students from universities outside of the United States are encouraged to apply.


  • highly competitive salary;
  • travel to/from internship location from your university location (including the intern and all eligible dependents);
  • housing costs: interns can select one of two housing options;
    • fully furnished corporate housing covered by Microsoft
    • a lump sum for finding and securing your own housing
  • local transportation allowance for commuting;
  • health insurance is not provided; most interns stay covered under their university insurance, but interns are eligible to enroll in a Microsoft sponsored medical plan;
  • internship events and activities.

How to apply?

Your application needs to include:

  1. A short description (no more than 2 pages, single-spaced) of 1 or 2 projects that you propose to do while interning at MSRNE, independently and/or in collaboration with current SMC researchers. The project proposals can be related to, but must be distinct from your dissertation research. Be specific and tell:
    • What is the research question animating your proposed project?
    • What methods would you use to address your question?
    • How does your research question speak to the interests of the SMC?
    • Who do you hope to reach (who are you engaging) with this proposed research?
  2. A brief description of your dissertation project.
  3. An academic article-length manuscript (7,000 or more) that you have authored or co-authored (published or unpublished) that demonstrates your writing skills.
  4. A copy of your CV.
  5. The names and contact information for 3 references (one must be your dissertation advisor).
  6. if available, pointers to your website or other online presence (this is not required).

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Tarleton Gillespie at [email protected] and include “SMC Ph.D. Internship” in the subject line.