So if you haven’t heard yet, after I left Morocco in November, spent the holidays and my birthday in the Chicago area with friends and family, I moved to Princeton, New Jersey to start a new job and a new chapter of my life.
Why New Jersey, you ask? Well, I don’t know. It’s just the way it happened. I applied for jobs in Chicago, but entry level positions in research (which is kind of the only field I’m well qualified for) are few in the Chicago area. So when I realized that Chicago was probably not going happen, I started applying to other areas of the country.
When Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) told me that the Chicago position I applied for was filled, but they had another position available at their headquarters in Princeton, I said yes. I had been applying for jobs for three months straight, with only two responses, and only one offer – so I said, Let’s move to New Jersey!
I packed the back of my car with as much of my stuff as possible, and then my Mom and I drove east all the way to Princeton. When I got to town (14 hours later), I was very lucky to find a affordable, furnished place to live that was only a mile and a half from the Mathematica offices. So I moved into the house and started work four days later.
So what is this job that made me move to the middle of Jersey? Well, I’m a research assistant / programmer (RAP for short). Essentially, Mathematica contracts with different sections of the government and performs research studies for them. For example, if the Department of Medicare Services wants to know more about how a new Medicare program is working throughout the country, they will ask our company to interview/survey/visit/etc. the program staff to find out what the department wants to know. MPR does this in lots of different areas of the government – education, welfare, disability, health, nutrition, labor, and international aid. And I assist in some of these projects. Right now, I am staffed on about six different projects and I do something totally different for each of them, depending on the type of study and what stage of the research they’re in. It’s interesting work and you learn a lot because you’re always needed to do different tasks.The downside of the job, so far, has been the slow start-up of getting placed on projects. I have been at the company almost three months now and probably half of that time I have spent doing absolutely nothing. At first, I studied the MPR website (which has lots of articles) and I studied some new computer programs, and then I started organizing and decorating my office, but now I have run out of ways-to-look-semi-productive and I am just out-right reading library books at my desk. At 3 months in, apparently it’s typical to still be a little slow on work but I hear that soon it should pick-up. And I think it will too.