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Evidence Action

Graduate Student Intern

Beta Incubator – Washington DC, District of Columbia
Department Beta Incubator
Employment Type Internship

Graduate Student Internships

Evidence Action aims to be a world leader in scaling evidence-based and cost-effective programs to reduce the burden of poverty for hundreds of millions of people in the poorest places. Our two flagship at-scale programs, Deworm the World and Dispensers for Safe Water, reached approximately 280 million people in 2017 alone.

In addition to running these scaled programs, Evidence Action also leverages its Beta Incubator to explore what interventions with initial evidence of impact might be suitable for massive scale up to become our next flagship programs. Similar to beta testing for software, we pressure-test interventions to ensure that they deliver cost-effective impact at scale without unintended consequences. To effectively scale interventions that pass our pressure-testing, Beta seeks to understand the mechanisms at work behind compelling results, runs fit-for-purpose experiments to find appropriate models for scaling, and builds service delivery and financing models suitable for the contexts where there is demand. Consistent with our “evidence first” organizational value, we also are transparent and principled in acting on results.

Evidence Action has a presence across 10 countries, with major offices in Nairobi, Kenya; Delhi, India; and Washington, D.C.

The opportunity

Evidence Action’s Beta Incubator is seeking one or more graduate student summer interns to support its dynamic, varied portfolio of early- to late-stage incubation efforts. Specific scopes of work will be determined on a case-by-case basis, based on the expertise, skills, and interests of the individual and the organization's needs as the start date of the internship approaches.

Below is a snapshot of the types of workstreams in which interns may be engaged:  

Supporting specific existing initiatives in the Beta portfolio, such as:

  • Volunteer-based “teaching at the right level” education program in Africa: Winning Start, a late-stage program in the Beta incubation portfolio, leverages youth volunteers to improve literacy and numeracy among struggling primary school students, drawing on the “Teaching at the Right Level” evidence base. Workstreams that an intern supporting this project may be engaged in include, for example, conducting total addressable market analysis and identifying opportunities for engaging in new countries, using behavioural insights to identify program design enhancements to boost volunteer motivation and performance, and using technology to reduce costs and improve scalability of the program.
  • Early childhood stimulation in Kenya: Evidence Action is exploring building and pressure-testing a scalable and cost-effective model for delivering a strongly evidence-based intervention on early childhood stimulation, in partnership with development economists at Yale’s Y-RISE. This exploratory work will build on our youth-volunteer led Winning Start work in Kenya. Interns may be engaged in, for example, conducting preliminary cost-effectiveness analysis, synthesizing and contextualizing a caregiver training curriculum for Kenya, and conducting qualitative assessments of various delivery platforms.
  • School-based iron-folic acid supplementation in India: After extensive exploratory and planning work in 2018, Evidence Action is launching a prototyping and piloting effort in India to support the Government of India in improving coverage and quality of implementation of the national school-based iron-folic acid supplementation program. This effort, part of the early-stage Beta incubation portfolio, will help us determine if we can develop a model for supporting the Government that is highly cost-effective. Workstreams that an intern supporting this project may be engaged in include, for example, identifying and piloting evidence-informed program design changes to improve coverage and compliance, conducting cost-effectiveness analysis, conducting partner landscaping, and designing process monitoring systems.
  • Transport subsidies to facilitate seasonal migration: No Lean Season, a Beta program in the late stages of our incubation process, reduces the negative effects of seasonality on the poorest in rural agricultural areas by enabling labor mobility that increases incomes. Workstreams that an intern supporting this project may be engaged in include, for example, improving/optimising program management dashboards to support data-driven decision-making; supporting additional analyses on datasets from original randomized controlled trials underlying the program; and supporting non-experimental research, such as formative testing of survey implementation scripts.

Conducting research to inform the early-stage incubation portfolio: Our early-stage incubation portfolio relies on deep-dive research into a variety of evidence-based interventions, with analysts identifying the most promising new program areas for Evidence Action to explore. A graduate student intern might take the lead on research and recommendations for 1-3 possible intervention areas, which would include reading the evidence base on the topic, conducting expert interviews, analyzing data, and developing a variety of deliverables recommending whether and how we should/could  pursue further work on an intervention. Example areas that we might explore include: promoting use of micronutrient powders, increasing correct diagnosis and access to pneumonia treatment, and improving farmers’ access to high-quality extension training. We would particularly welcome an intern with a strong background in public health and/or economics, with a strong existing grounding in rigorous evidence, to support this research.

Supporting prototyping and/or piloting a new early-stage program: We anticipate that in the summer of 2019, our early-stage incubation portfolio will have a few new projects that are in a prototyping or piloting phase. These projects will likely have small teams on the ground, with opportunity for an intern to rapidly take on ownership of some key pilot components. Projects could include: prototyping and collecting in-field feedback on program design; developing trainings and toolkits for health facilities; helping develop data and systems for stock management and logistics for a Ministry of Health. These projects could be a particularly good fit for an intern with experience or interest in public health, operations, or human-centered design.

Conducting cost-effectiveness research: A core element across all of Evidence Action’s work is cost-effectiveness. We not only pride ourselves on delivering high-impact programs grounded in evidence, but also programs that produce measurably more impact (defined differently for different intervention types) per dollar than alternative approaches. This requires thoughtful understanding of existing literature, careful consideration of data collection needs, and savvy analytical approaches, informed by methodologies developed by others and innovating some of our own. We estimate the cost-effectiveness of interventions along the full spectrum of maturity on the pathway to, and for programs reaching and operating at, scale. An intern could support engage on our wide variety of ongoing cost-effectiveness analysis research. This could include, for example, literature reviews to identify relevant information on impacts and costs associated with specific interventions, identifying high-quality inputs from primary and secondary data sources, synthesizing existing cost-effectiveness evidence, and interpreting findings for use in analysis. This role would be a good fit for individuals interested in impact evaluation, health economics and/or cost-effectiveness analysis as a means to evaluate programs.

Strong performance during an internship with Evidence Action is no guarantee of future employment with the organization. However, we do hope this will be an opportunity for the organization to get to know the capabilities of individuals who may be strong candidates for future roles, and likewise, an opportunity for individuals to get to know Evidence Action and the dynamic organization that it is.

Who we’re looking for

Evidence Action places strong value on relevant personal qualities: entrepreneurialism, responsibility, tenacity, independence, energy, and work ethic. We seek highly committed, adaptable individuals with an ability to deliver quality results in quickly changing circumstances. Specifically, we seek interns meeting the following qualifications:

  • Currently pursuing a master's degree or PhD in public policy, international development, economics, business, or related field, preferably with at least some familiarity with development economics;
  • Preferably at least two years of relevant professional experience prior to starting graduate school;
  • Experience living and working in a developing country context and strong cultural sensitivity skills;
  • A strong commitment to evidence-based practice and policy in the development field and a propensity for asking whether, why, and how to achieve greater impact;  
  • Experience applying data and quantitative analysis to drive decision making;
  • Ability to work independently and effectively in a high-pressure, unstructured environment and handle multiple tasks simultaneously;
  • Adaptable, self-motivated, inquisitive, and a team player who is interested in being part of a fast-paced, growing, and diverse team with a start-up atmosphere; and,
  • A sense of humor and excitement to be part of an engaged and intellectually stimulating work environment.

In addition, there may be some workstreams that require specific areas of expertise or skills, to which we would only assign to interns if we identify successful candidates possessing those skills. Examples of such skills include:

  • Human-centered design
  • Fluency in R, Stata, and other programs
  • Financial modeling
  • Data science
  • Design thinking/service design prototyping
  • GIS

Logistics

  • Funding: Intern candidates are encouraged to seek any available sources of summer internship funding from their universities or elsewhere. We may offer supplementary payment. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis once we are engaging with high-potential candidates.
  • Location(s): Intern(s) will be based in Evidence Action’s Washington, D.C. office; however, periodic travel for ~2-3 weeks is likely to overseas locations, depending on the intern’s exact scope-of-work and duration. During a ~10-12-week-long internship, an intern should expect to do at least one multi-week trip.
  • Timeframe: Start and end dates will be determined on a case-by-case basis, based on the candidate’s availability. We anticipate most candidates to be available for 10-16 weeks, starting some time in mid-to-late May or early June and ending some time in August or September.

Application process

Applications must be submitted via our online jobs portal. Please submit a current resume and cover letter explaining your interest in an internship at Evidence Action. Applications without a cover letter will not be reviewed. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for follow-up.

Review from a past intern

In 2018, Evidence Action Beta hosted a graduate student intern from the Harvard Kennedy School’s MPA/ID program. Her review of the internship is below. As it suggests, we look for strong professionals who are eager to dive into substantive workstreams and make a meaningful contribution to intellectually and practically challenging work in a short period of time.

For my graduate school summer internship, I was keen on working in an organization that would provide me with a strong set of mentors who could enable me to grow my technical and professional skill set. At Evidence Action, I got not one, but three deeply committed mentors who were invested in making me a better development professional. On my very first day, I was pleasantly surprised to see a document that had outlined discrete components of projects that I would be responsible for. Having managed interns myself and done several internships in the past, I knew the commitment Evidence Action showed to my professional growth was very unusual – interns are rarely given substantive opportunities, often picking up slack and filling in for administrative tasks for multiple projects.

At Evidence Action, my supervisors … gave me a lot of independence in how I wanted to conduct and complete my analysis. I also got the opportunity to travel to Kenya and meet with stakeholders to communicate our projects needs and goals to them. … Additionally, as someone who is very interested in understanding how effective development interventions could be scaled up at the national and sub-national level, Evidence Action gave me the perfect combination of project management and research experience that I need to implement policies at scale.

I would highly recommend an internship at Evidence Action to anyone who is considering it. There are lots of organizations that do great work, and Evidence Action is indeed one of them. But I am confident that it will be very hard to find mentors like [those I had at Evidence Action] elsewhere and if not for anything else, I would choose this internship again to just get to know them!

For more information about Evidence Action, visit our website (www.evidenceaction.org) and follow us on Twitter and Facebook (@Evidence Action)

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  • Location
    Washington DC, District of Columbia
  • Department
    Beta Incubator
  • Employment Type
    Internship
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