The Walter Rand Institute enjoys a unique dichotomous structure consisting of student workers and staff members coming together to execute various grants and complete administrative tasks as part of the Rutgers University-Camden community. Student workers are given many opportunities to learn new skills, polish old ones, build relationships with regional stakeholders, and develop a professional work style. These experiences are useful well past one’s undergraduate/graduate career, and follow through to future careers and aspirations.

During my time at WRI, I’ve been lucky enough to experience both sides of the coin as a student worker and staff member. While pursuing my Master’s Degree, I was a Graduate Research Assistant for WRI and worked on the South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative and the United Way of Salem County Needs Assessment, which focused on identifying resources in the areas of education, income, health, and youth development throughout Salem County. In the classroom, I’d study research tools, data-gathering techniques, and ethics, then go to work and actively contextualize my education, using what I learned in real-life situations. The work experience I gained at WRI while getting my degree was invaluable. It truly enriched my understanding of research and made me a better student.

As a current staff member at WRI, I continue to use the skills I learned as a student worker on a daily basis. Being involved as a student made all the difference and got me to where I am professionally today.