Dominique Janvier had never considered research as a possible career avenue, but that all changed after working for a non-profit last summer. “Though my experience with social science research is limited, I have come to appreciate the importance of the kind of investigation fostered by it, and the use of data as a tool for social change” says Janvier.
A rising third year at the College, Janvier is majoring in Public Policy and minoring in French. “In public policy, substantive change often not only relies on policy and advocacy, but a rigorous investigation of facts through data.”
For the Summer Institute for Social Research Method, Janvier enrolled in Computing for Social Sciences, which covered topics ranging from data transformation and visualization to more specific skills such as writing functions and defensive programming.
The lessons learned in-class relied heavily on real-world context. “Studying data is an interesting way to break down generalizations we may make about the world” she says. “Through exploring and visualizing the data, my classmates and I had the opportunity to not only reinforce what we already knew about the real-world, but to also learn new things.”
Janvier credits her classmates and instructors on helping her through the course load. “Since the majority of my classmates are program participants, it’s easy to make supportive friends. Coding is naturally quite challenging, but with their help it was an overall fun and enriching experience.”
For her research assistantship, Janvier is working on the Youth Voters Project, a new stem of the GenForward Survey. The project focuses on voting, registration, and demographic trends among millennials at both state and national levels in lieu of the 2020 presidential election.
Janvier’s role involves cleaning and summarizing databases. “When you’re handling large datasets, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers, so I try to keep a level head a take it one step at a time. Keeping consistent communication with my team also lets me know that I’m not alone in this and have people backing me up along the way.”
Janvier had previously taken a course instructed by her mentor, Professor Cathy Cohen. “A lot of her work with GenForward, as well as her endeavors outside of the University, came through in her teaching. I was able to get a sense of what really mattered to her as a political scientist, activist, and a woman of color.”
“As a woman of color myself, I’m really interested in the way she and her team use data to amplify the voices and opinions of youth voters, especially voters of color. I don’t think millennials get enough credit for how invested and involved they are in the political process, so I’m glad people are starting to pay attention.”
Throughout the course of the program, a series of workshops covered various topics related to social science research, including a series on writing skills. Janvier attributes her recent improvements in writing to these workshops, saying “they complemented what we learn in the humanities core, while elucidating the similarities and differences in writing for research purposes.”
Janvier praises the applicability of the research skills she’s gaining, whether she decides to stay in research or go into policymaking, adding “data analysis would likely be at the forefront of what I do. I’m confident in being able to apply these skills outside of my role as research assistant.”