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Fellowship, U.S. Social and Behavioral Sciences Team

Job Title: Fellow, U.S. Social and Behavioral Sciences Team
Department: General Services Administration
Agency: Office of Government-wide Policy, Performance Improvement Council
Deadline: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until filled

The U.S. Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) seeks exceptionally qualified individuals to serve as Fellows for 2014–2015. Individuals who can secure continued financial support from their home institution or other outside funding are especially encouraged to apply.


The SBST helps federal agencies increase the efficiency and efficacy of their programs and policies, by harnessing research methods and findings from the social and behavioral sciences. The team works closely with agencies across the federal government, thinking creatively about how to translate social and behavioral science insights into concrete interventions that are likely to improve federal outcomes and designing rigorous field trials to test the impact of these recommendations.

The SBST is a small, multi-disciplinary group of experts, coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and organized under the Performance Improvement Council at the General Services Administration (GSA). Collectively, the team has a diverse mixture of scientific expertise from fields such as economics, psychology, and statistics, as well as experience performing rigorous evaluations in complex operational settings. As the SBST works to pursue the agencies’ priority goals, policy areas include health, education, tax and finance, housing, environment, criminal justice, and so forth (see to learn about federal departments and agencies).

Fellows must possess a unique set of technical and professional skills. This includes extensive knowledge of at least one field within the social and behavioral sciences, the ability to creatively apply research knowledge within the federal government setting, the ability to manage the day-to-day operations of a field trial, and exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. (Duties and qualifications are further elaborated below.)

The position lasts for one year beginning in August or September 2014 (precise start date negotiable), with the possibility of renewal. Fellows will be located in the GSA building at 1800 F Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20405. GSA has been named repeatedly by the Partnership for Public Service as one of the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.”


Your major duties and responsibilities are as follows:

  • Learn about select federal agency priorities and design human-centered policies and programs to better serve citizens;
  • Creatively translate insights from the social and behavioral sciences into concrete recommendations for how to improve those federal programs, policies, and organizations;
  • Work closely with agency partners to design rigorous experimental trials capable of testing the relative efficiency and efficacy of proposed interventions;
  • Communicate regularly with agency partners, and any outside collaborators, in order to: ensure the rationale behind intervention ideas and trial design are clearly understood and meet agency goals; ensure that field experiments are implemented as planned; share updates on trial status; and discuss the implications of results;
  • Effectively manage the operations of select field experiments, for example, ensuring that the design, implementation, and results are properly documented and shared;
  • Perform data analyses and interpretation;
  • Write project reports and policy memos for academic, agency, and public audiences;
  • Assist, as needed, on additional projects being managed by other SBST members;
  • Attend weekly SBST meetings, provide updates on trial status, and be generally available to collaborate on and contribute to internal tasks; and
  • Attend and potentially present at conferences and workshops.


  • Ph.D. in a social and behavioral sciences field (e.g., economics, psychology, political science, statistics, sociology, public policy, etc.), or a Master’s Degree plus two or more years of relevant experience.
  • Two or more years of experience designing, implementing and analyzing experiments.
  • General knowledge of behavioral economics, and highly specialized knowledge of at least one domain of a study within the social and behavioral sciences.
  • Ability to think creatively about how insights from the social and behavioral sciences can be translated into concrete interventions that are practically feasible within specific federal programs, policies, or organizations.
  • Statistical competency, including use of at least one programming language (e.g., R, Matlab, SAS, Stata, etc...).
  • Ability to effectively explain technical concepts to a broad range of audiences, both orally and in writing.
  • Strong writing skills, including under tight deadlines.
  • Excellent management and organizational skills.
  • Flexibility, self-motivation, and the ability to manage multiple tasks efficiently as a team player.
  • Curiosity and willingness to learn about federal agencies and the unique practical and regulatory constraints they face.


  • Two or more years of experience conducting randomized controlled trials within complex field settings.
  • Experience working with the federal government.
  • Advanced statistical skills, including experience handling large administrative data sets.

Application Instructions:

  • Email your C.V. and a relevant writing sample to, with “SBST Fellow Application” in the subject line. Please also include a 1-page cover letter introducing yourself and explaining your interest in being a Fellow.
  • The final deadline to submit is July 25, 2014, although applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • Finalists will be invited to a multi-stage interview process.

Director, Retirement Security - The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts
Position Description: Director, Retirement Security

The Organization:

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life. Based in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., Pew produces fact-based research and develops practical solutions to challenging issues.
Pew operates a wide variety of policy research and advocacy initiatives, including on consumer financial protection, family economic stability, state public-sector retirement systems, sentencing and corrections and election administration. Pew makes use of the basic tools that are required to help the federal government and states explore and advance effective policies, regardless of the issue: credible, timely, and user-friendly research; assessments of public support for change; strategic outreach and communication to ensure that good information is communicated to decision-makers, media, influential stakeholders and the public; the capacity to bring together diverse perspectives and find common ground; and the ability to identify innovative, effective policies that have proven successful elsewhere.

Project Overview:

A significant body of research has documented that many Americans are struggling to build enough personal savings (beyond funds accumulated through Social Security or pensions) to meet basic expenses in retirement. In fact, the gap between what families save and what they will need for retirement is expected to grow over time. With the continuing decline of traditional pensions and planned and potential reductions to Social Security benefits in the future, it is likely that younger Americans will need to rely even more heavily on household savings.
This project will provide rigorous research to inform a series of policy discussions at the state and federal level about how to help families increase their private savings. The focus of this research will be on employer-based retirement programs, such as 401(k) plans, as most families accumulate the bulk of their retirement savings at work. Specifically, the project will provide highly credible, independent, non-partisan research to address critical questions, including: significant factors that prevent employers from offering retirement plans or from implementing plan features that lead to greater savings; the impact of disclosure on plan fees, and how leading state and federal proposals to increase retirement savings would affect employers, workers and taxpayers. The project will also extensively engage influential policy makers, thought leaders, business organizations, and advocates in policy discussions that address these questions.

Position Overview:

The Project Director, working with Pew’s senior leadership, will implement and direct the initiative, including hiring a team of researchers and policy analysts, overseeing the research agenda, serving as the project’s primary spokesperson and liaison to key policy audiences and the media, disseminating research findings widely and collaborating on fundraising. The initiative will be supported by Pew communications, government relations, fundraising, and operations teams. 

This position, based in Pew’s Washington D.C. office, will report to the senior director for family economic stability, for an initial period through March 30, 2017, with the possibility of renewal, depending on the project’s progress, ability to raise funds, and board deliberations. This position is contingent upon board approval in March 2014.


• Manage project implementation, budget, staff and timeline, adjusting strategic and work plans as necessary to ensure policy relevancy, and to complete deliverables on time and within budget;
• Build strong, productive relationships with outside parties, including state and federal officials, policy researchers, industry, advocacy organizations, member associations for policymakers, and other key stakeholders interested in and involved in this issue.
• Supervise the production of major research reports;
• Oversee the selection of state and/ or federal retirement security proposals that the project will assess. Develop and manage contracts with a wide array of consultants;
• Represent the project at national and state events and in media interviews;
• Partner with Human Resources to recruit and hire project staff with a wide range of research and analytical responsibilities;
• Work closely with communications staff to design and implement effective dissemination techniques, including written products, online communications strategies, and high-level convenings;
• Collaborate with Philanthropic Partnership Group to identify, secure and work with operating and funding partners to support the project’s work;
• Ensure strict compliance with all federal, state and local lobbying and ethics laws.


• Bachelor’s degree required. Advanced degree or relevant professional experience in public policy, public administration, economics or a related discipline required;
• 10+ years of relevant professional experience;
• Minimum of two plus years of previous direct supervisory experience required including experience managing performance management process for direct reports and providing career development advice and counsel;
• Extensive knowledge of private, government, and public sector retirement savings systems, including policy, programs, issues, research, experts and key players in the field;
• Substantial background conducting and managing complex projects aimed at informing and advancing effective public policy;
• Experience managing the development and dissemination of high-quality, policy-focused research, such as statistical analysis, economic modeling, and survey research;
• Solid knowledge of state and federal policymaking in this area. Experience working with state and federal leaders and stakeholders;
• Strong project development and management skills, including developing and building successful initiatives in the business or policy arenas. Ability to manage multiple outside consultants;
• Excellent written and oral communications skills, including an ability to synthesize and summarize research findings and recommendations. Ability to think strategically about how to communicate results to gain policy maker attention and involvement. Experience convening and leading public events;
• Proven ability to develop productive and collaborative relationships both internally and externally, with a diverse array of stakeholders;
• Sound personnel management skills and demonstrated ability to build and lead a team;
• Ability to think strategically and creatively, juggle multiple priorities, adjust to changing circumstances, organize time efficiently and remain attentive to details;
• Experience with fundraising helpful but not essential.

It is anticipated that the director will travel regularly, including visits to states and stakeholders involved in policy work and to policy and academic conferences.

To Apply:
Please email a resume and cover letter stating why you are interested and why you think you are a good fit for this specific role to:

Andrew P. Zalman
Officer, Talent Acquisition