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START fosters a collaborative, multidisciplinary environment to create a team to meet the needs of the homeland security enterprise and train the next generation of scholars and practitioners. 

NSF INSPIRE Computational Modeling of Grievances and Political Instability Through Global Media Internship - Spring 2018

NSF INSPIRE Computational Modeling of Grievances and Political Instability Through Global Media Internship - Spring 2018

November 5, 2017
Semester Year: 


Researchers and practitioners seeking to understand, resolve, and mitigate the consequences of conflict or political violence increasingly are drawing on tools from computational social science, or applied data science. START’s NSF-funded project on Computational Modeling of Grievances and Political Instability Through Global Media has ongoing research involving social media analytics for predicting when and where instability will occur, with a focus on election-related events and violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Social media analytics provide a new source of data and novel techniques for understanding the causes and consequences of violence in areas where access is not feasible.

Internship position: Social media analytics for computational social science and conflict

Supervisor name and email address: Erin C. McGrath, Ph.D. (ecmcgrat@umd.edu

Application deadline: Sunday, November 5, 2017; 11:59pm

Duties of the interns will include:

The primary tasks for internships in social media analytics for computational social science will be to participate in primary research including:

  • Event research to inform data capture, for example, identifying seeds, keywords, or tokens for gathering social media data; 
  • Qualitative annotation of social media for validation of semi-supervised machine learning models;
  • Developing short and longer manuscripts for publication in various outlets;
  • Project promotion and research dissemination.


  • A record of academic achievement including excellent writing skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently
  • ­Applicants must have a minimum of 48 university credits
  • Ability to work at START headquarters at University of Maryland
  • Interest in social media and social media analytics

Other Suggested Skills

  • Familiarity in one of the following fields: communication, computation/ data science, political science or international affairs, or natural language processing;
  • A strong interest in research or application of computational skills;
  • Other computer/ technical skills: programming in R or Python, Geographic Information Systems

START computational social science interns will gain valuable experience in applied computation to social science research in conflict/ political instability. These tasks can be applied to a variety of careers in fields such as: public and international affairs, higher education and more broadly in the growing field of data science or computational social science.


*Graduate students and upper-level undergraduates are encouraged to apply.

Two positions are available.

Tentative weekly team meeting day and time to be determined.

US citizenship is not a requirement.

General Information for all START Internships


START Headquarters is located at 8400 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD 20740. The building is adjacent to the University of Maryland, College Park campus. All internship hours must be completed at START HQ unless otherwise specified. Working remotely is not permitted.

Schedule Requirements:

Orientation Date: Monday, January 22, 2018. All interns are required to attend orientation. You may be required to attend an additional day of orientation on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Your supervisor will inform you if you are required to attend both days.
Internship Duration: Monday, January 22, 2018 to Friday, May 4, 2018. All interns must be able to commit to the duration of the whole program.
Work Hours: All interns must work at least 10 hours per week during the Spring 2018 program. Work hours are scheduled from Monday to Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm. Interns may not work longer than 8-hour shifts.

Other Information:

  • All internships are UNPAID and START is unable to provide travel stipends or housing arrangements.
  • We strongly encourage and recommend that interns seek academic credit for their internship through their home institution or department, if possible.
  • If undertaking the internship for credit, you must indicate this on your application form. Be sure to notify your internship supervisor if you need to work more than 10 hours per work for this reason.
  • Applicants interested in applying for an internship for any semester other than or in addition to Spring 2018, must submit a separate application for each semester with the correct application form for that semester.

How to Apply for START Internships:

START is currently accepting applications for Spring 2018. The application form will be open until Sunday, November 5, 2017 11:59pm. Late, incomplete, or applications not submitted correctly will not be considered. To access the application: click here.


  • Applicants must pay close attention to the requirements of each internship they are applying for, including attendance to team meetings and minimum time commitment. Inability to attend compulsory meetings or work the minimum required hours will result in the revocation of any offer made.
  • Address your cover letter to the internship supervisor of your first choice project.
  • Failure to complete the application form in full, including the selection of 1-3 internship preferences could result in your application being rejected without further consideration.
  • Failure to submit the proper materials according to the directions provided in the project description could result in your application being rejected without further consideration.
  • Due to the high volume of applicants, only top candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
  • Applicants may be asked to attend more than one interview.
  • Any successful candidate will be asked to respond with a firm acceptance within 24 hours of the offer being made. Failure to respond could result in the vacancy passed to another candidate.
  • Any questions regarding the specific requirements for the internship vacancy should be directed to the supervisor(s) listed for the project.
  • Any questions regarding the application process should be directed to the START Education Team at internships-start@umd.edu.

Application Materials:

All internship applicants must submit all materials in one .pdf file using the file name format:

LastName, FirstName_InternCandidate.pdf or .doc.

 The internship application packet should include the following documents in the following order:

  • One page cover letter
  • One page resume
  • Official or unofficial transcript(s)
  • Two-page writing sample (Communications applicants must submit two writing samples.)

Note for International Students:

START welcomes applications from international students for all of our internships where US citizenship is not a requirement (see the qualifications listed for each project for details).

It is, however, the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that their visa or immigration status permits them to undertake an unpaid internship. It is also the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all proper paperwork, like documented approval from your home institution, is available and processed in time for the start of the internship. Failure to comply with these stipulations, or provide the paperwork required to verify your status, will result in your internship offer being rescinded without further consideration. START is unable to sponsor visas for non-US Citizens due to the short timeline of our program and the lengthy processing time for visas. Unfortunately, this largely limits our ability to accept anything other than F-1 visas on regular, not OPT, status.