Junior Fellows at CRRC-Georgia: Facing new challenges

[Note: Over the next two weeks, Social Science in the Caucasus will publish the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015.]

CRRC’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) was launched in 2009 as a Carnegie Corporation initiative within the CRRC, with the goal of providing on-the-job training opportunities in applied research for young social scientists. As the Program’s motto claims, the JFP would be “the best and hardest” experience the Junior Fellows would ever have, opening doors for educational and employment opportunities worldwide. Every year since, a new group of bright young people interested in social science research and selected through a highly competitive and challenging selection process would join CRRC-Georgia for a period of five to nine months.
Once becoming members of the CRRC-Georgia team, Junior Fellows are engaged in ongoing research projects at various stages of implementation both through direct participation and observation. Fellows learn about questionnaire development, pretest, sampling, survey fieldwork and back-checks, data management and analysis, slide production and presentation of results, report writing, the development of discussion guides, and preparation of interview and focus-group write-ups. We believe, Georgian higher educational institutions currently fail to help students acquire most of these skills, and hence the opportunity offered by CRRC-Georgia is quite unique for the Junior Fellows.

Potential junior fellows are expected to have already completed at least a BA degree, although it is not required that this degree is in the social sciences. They have to commit to the program full-time, and hence cannot combine JFP and another job or full-time studies during the fellowship period. In addition to valuable research experience, the Junior Fellows are provided with a number of training sessions on quantitative data analysis using SPSS and Stata statistical software, qualitative data analysis using NVivo software, and report writing.

Thirty two young people have been CRRC-Georgia Junior Fellows to date. After their fellowship period, seven stayed on to work at CRRC-Georgia, five continued their education abroad, and others started jobs at a number of different international and governmental organizations.

We asked some of the former fellows to share their opinions about what the JFP experience gave them, and how it relates to their current educational and employment situations. Here are some answers:

[At CRRC-Georgia] I got a valuable knowledge of how high-quality research should be conducted. While working with qualified people, I obtained knowledge and experience that helped me to advance in my future career. A great team, interesting projects and a great deal of perspectives – this is how I would describe my experience working at CRRC.

Nino Kerkadze, JFP-2012

CRRC is a small family, where one acquires new skills that will be useful [for the rest of your life].

Merab Bochoidze, JFP-2011

CRRC is a place with a wonderful working environment, qualified colleagues and great friends that will give a valuable boost to your career.

Salome Minesashvili, JFP-2011

CRRC-Georgia is currently hosting six junior fellows, and we believe, one of the most exciting, although challenging tasks for the current Junior Fellows is writing blog posts for the CRRC regional blog, Social Science in the Caucasus. In their blog posts, the Junior Fellows can focus on social science issues they are most interested in, apply their data analysis skills, and communicate their findings to an audience of international and local scholars, researchers, and journalists.

For the first time, we have decided to publish the 2015 Junior Fellows’ first blog posts in a single series. The JFP series will start today with Nino Zubashvili’s post and continue for two weeks.

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