Issue Focus

A Q&A with Neena Rouhani, 2016 MDRC Undergraduate Intern

Where Are They Now?


This is the eighth in a series of Q&As with past participants in MDRC’s Gueron Scholars Program in which they reflect on their experiences at MDRC and discuss what they’re up to today.

About Neena Rouhani: Neena is currently a master’s student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, specializing in social justice and investigative reporting. She is also a recording musician. Previously, she worked for a nonprofit dedicated to grassroots community-building and for a digital marketing agency.

Why did you choose to apply for an internship at MDRC?

I wanted to learn more about the way that social policies are developed and evaluated in the U.S., as well as expand my knowledge regarding the types of jobs that come out of a background in sociology and statistics.

Describe a typical day as an intern at MDRC.

We’d work on different projects within various departments. Some involved doing research; others involved coding or going out into the city for focus groups or participant observation research. Because I am fluent in Spanish, I got to do some translating work as well. We also sat in on meetings in the various departments.

What skills did you develop as a result of your internship at MDRC?

I was definitely asked to do a lot of things I had never done before so being there taught me how to self-start and reach out for resources in unfamiliar areas. I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to learn and excel in areas that I didn’t have a ton of experience in, especially as an undergraduate student. I learned about coding, how to conduct a literature review, and how to facilitate a focus group — as well as about the different topic areas I worked in, such as the U.S. bail system.

Can you share an accomplishment during your internship that you are most proud of?

I was able to take part in the evaluation and development of a supervised release program for non-violent offenders. I also facilitated a focus group in Spanish, which is my third language.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in applying to be an intern at MDRC?

Don’t be afraid if you think you lack experience. As long as you are able to adapt easily and have a desire to learn, you’ll thrive. The MDRC environment is very welcoming and open to growth and learning. You will have plenty of people there to help you and who are happy to grab lunch and answer any questions. There is so much knowledge at your fingertips.