Student Experience Research Network Blog

The Student Experience Research Network is seeking a Program & Policy Associate who will play a pivotal role in our team’s collective efforts to advance scientific understanding of students’ mindsets and motivation at a time when practitioners and policymakers are eager to integrate lessons from this research into systemic efforts to enhance learning and educational equity in K-12 and higher education.

This position can be located anywhere in the United States. See below for job description and instructions for applying. We encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds who can bring unique perspectives to the table to apply.

Program & Policy Associate

Position Summary

Motivation is a key factor in learning. Human beings are born to be learners and doers, and psychological research explains how meeting people’s basic needs to feel competent and connected to others can sustain their natural desire to learn and improve academic mastery. When students want to do a task, believe they can do the task, and feel part of a collective endeavor, they are more likely to choose challenging tasks, persist in the face of difficulty, learn more deeply, and achieve at higher levels.

Myriad factors shape students’ motivation to learn. But one key source of motivation is the beliefs that students come to hold about themselves, their relationship to others, and the work they’re asked to do in school. These beliefs are shaped by students’ observations of the world around them; they are reasonable inferences that reflect students’ reality. These beliefs (or ‘mindsets’) are the lenses through which students make meaning of, or construe their experiences in school. These interpretations, in turn, shape their responses.

The Student Experience Research Network’s mission is to advance scientific understanding of mindsets and motivation to improve student outcomes and expand educational opportunity. We invest in original interdisciplinary research, build capacity for high quality mindset scholarship, and disseminate the latest scientific knowledge to the education sector. We serve as an authoritative resource for reliable, research-based information about learning mindsets, including: Growth Mindset, Belonging, and Purpose & Relevance. MSN works directly with preeminent social scientists to advance this mission.

Reporting to the Executive Director (ED), the Program & Policy Associate will play a pivotal role in our team’s collective efforts to advance scientific understanding of students’ mindsets and motivation at a time when practitioners and policymakers are eager to integrate lessons from this research into systemic efforts to enhance learning and educational equity in K-12 and higher education.

We are seeking a Program & Policy Associate who:

  • Is committed to work that benefits students and educators and advances educational equity;
  • Is excited to learn about mindset science to advance our team’s collective vision and impact;
  • Is passionate about continuously improving their own work and that of our team;
  • Is energized by the prospect of being an integral part of a small, remotely staffed and highly collaborative team; and,
  • Can simultaneously think about the ‘big picture’ and execute on day-to-day management and planning skills.


Essential Responsibilities & Tasks

Policy, Communications, and Sector Outreach (25%)

  • Monitor policy news in K-12 and higher education, and keep team apprised of relevant developments and potential implications for learning mindsets R&D
  • Collect and synthesize information related to MSN sector outreach and broader strategy (e.g., background on strategic partners, aspects of education policy, potential funders, and/or education sector organizations)
  • Curate the MSN’s online research library: add new publications to the site and ensure that all papers on site are up-to-date
  • Assist with MSN website inquiries
  • Provide copy editing support for MSN content

Research Support (25%)

  • Monitor scientific journals, news aggregators, and blogs and keep team apprised of relevant scientific developments on a weekly basis
  • Carry out reviews of scientific literature to inform research briefs and other official publications and public statements of the MSN

Program Logistics (25%)

  • Provide overall project management, logistics, and operational support for in-person MSN- hosted events, including biannual gatherings of the MSN membership and sector-facing events that attract thought leaders and funders in K-12 and postsecondary education. This includes creating a budget and monitoring expenses; helping to select and liaise with venues; managing hotel room blocks, catering, and audio visual needs; reviewing and approving contracts and invoices; registering attendees; managing operational preparations on site; and handling reimbursements after the event
  • Assist in setting up and hosting virtual meetings and other online programming hosted by the MSN (e.g., webinars) 

Administration (25%)

  • Create and maintain organizational systems and procedures that enhance team effectiveness and smooth workflow (e.g., MSN master calendar, online file structure, video-conferencing technology platform, project management documentation)
  • Work with MSN’s fiscal sponsor (New Venture Fund) and vendors to set up and maintain contracts; handle all purchasing, reimbursement requests, and invoices while maintaining file copies
  • Review and reconcile budget reports from fiscal sponsor on a monthly basis
  • Coordinate weekly team meetings, including scheduling, sending out the agenda in advance, 
circulating minutes, and tracking next steps
  • Provide occasional administrative support to the MSN staff, including: scheduling calls, arranging 
travel, booking conferences, and processing expenses occasionally
  • Support ED with grants management: track deliverables across multiple grants, assist in generating grant budgets and grant reporting


Education, Experience, Knowledge, Skills and Ability

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent (e.g., Associate’s degree with two to three years of experience) in the social sciences, education, or public policy
  • Interest in education policy and practice, and using social science research to improve society
  • Strong online research skills, including experience conducting reviews of scientific literature and synthesizing findings
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office applications, especially Excel, Word, and PowerPoint; comfort using Google Docs to collaborate with colleagues on shared content
  • Ability to write clearly and persuasively and exceptional attention to detail in copy editing
  • Superb communication and negotiation skills to deal with external partners and vendors
  • Experience creating and managing logistical details for events
  • Experience managing, tracking, and adhering to a budget
  • Ability to work in a small, highly motivated and fast-moving remote office/telecommuting environment with frequent change and innovation
  • Ability to creatively solve problems to ensure deliverables are met and pitch in when necessary at all task levels
  • Time management skills to handle the competing priorities of several projects and ongoing organizational responsibilities
  • Culturally open-minded, flexible, open to suggestions and opinions, eager to learn and grow, direct but polite, and organized in all aspects of work (including communication)
  • Ability to collaborate productively and harmoniously in a team, while also being able to self- manage completion of work tasks independently with minimal oversight and exercise good judgment and sound decision-making


Valued and Non-Essential Education, Experience, Knowledge, Skills and Ability

  • Experience working remotely


How to Apply

We welcome and encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds who can bring unique perspectives to the table to apply. We are looking for people committed to cultivating an inclusive work environment that prioritizes continuous professional ‘stretching’ and growth, and helping each other make a positive contribution to the world. No location preference; people in all United States locations are encouraged to apply. This position will require travel to three to five in-person meetings per year.

If you would like to apply for this position, please visit the Program & Policy Associate application website; a 1-page resume and 1-page cover letter summarizing your interest, qualifications, and experience will be required. Submissions will not be accepted via email.

We expect to contact people for interviews on a rolling basis beginning in late May.


Hiring Statement

The Student Experience Research Network is a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. The New Venture Fund is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding and enables each of us to realize our potential. The New Venture Fund’s work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.

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