LOCATION: Alexandria, Virginia
Our office is able to host a REMOTE OR IN-PERSON intern (depending on mutual preference).
TIME ZONE: ET
WORKING HOURS: The intern needs to keep the same business hours as our office.
INDUSTRY: Think Tank / Research / Policy
ABOUT US: Echelon Insights was founded in 2014 with the aim of modernizing the polling industry. We combine survey research, digital analytics, and data science to help our clients gain a competitive edge.
RESPONSIBILITIES & PROJECTS: Potential projects include: survey programming, questionnaire writing, statistical analysis, and data collection/cleaning. We are looking for someone who is a strong writer and communicator, as our intern is expected to not only assist in the processing of data but the analysis and dissemination of said data to clients as well.
SPECIALIZED SKILLS & BACKGROUND: Coding & Programming, Statistical & Data Analysis
WORK ENVIRONMENT: We use Slack and Zoom to communicate, both of which the intern will be expected to use. The intern will be working alongside one or two other interns. There will be weekly check-ins, with the expectation that the intern is proactive in communicating their workload and any issues that may arise. Every intern is expected to connect with every member of our staff, and also to complete a personal project over the course of their internship that is presented to the full staff at the end of the summer.
EQUIPMENT & SOFTWARE: Access to high-speed Wi-Fi, Personal laptop, Smart Phone, Web Camera
2021 Intern Reflection:
As a Research Fellow at Echelon Insights, I have had the opportunity to sharpen and add to the technical skills I picked up in my first semester as a Government-Data Science concentrator, and have gained valuable experience working with a team in a professional environment. I am working remotely this summer due to pandemic restrictions, but the work culture has nonetheless been dynamic, facilitated mostly through Slack. Along with a team of two other interns, I have been responsible for monitoring the Slack channels and our workflow platform, Asana, for assignments and managing my time and focus accordingly. The work load has been consistent but never overwhelming or stressful, and everyone on staff has been friendly and accommodating. Since day one we have been given a broad array of tasks involving data collection, data wrangling/cleaning, and even conducting our own analysis of crosstabs to contribute to the findings reported in Echelon's final products. I have been fortunate to work on many interesting projects highly relevant to the current political moment, including an analysis of survey data that estimated how the American electorate would sort into various parties in a multi-party democracy and how it is distributed among four political "quadrants" divided along cultural and economic axes, which was the subject of a 538 Politics episode upon its release. Aside from work in Excel/R, my fellow interns and I have done quality control on dozens of documents–toplines, crosstabs, keynote presentations, weekly email releases–which has helped me develop an eye for detail, something that is absolutely necessary when your work is subject to public scrutiny. Having taken GOV 50 in my sophomore spring semester, I came into my internship with a basic grasp of how to analyze, manipulate, and communicate with data (mainly in RStudio); but I had very little understanding of what goes on in the workplaces of public opinion research firms like Echelon, or what a career in this line of work could look like. As someone who first became interested in data science and polling as a media consumer, then through education, I was very curious about how the various components of social science research could be divided and scaled into a business that regularly churns out high-quality products at the pace demanded by the industry, and how my individual skills could fit into that process. This summer, I learned that the basic technical skills I have gained through my education can already be productively applied toward many of the steps involved in the firm's production process, and have gained other intangible skills along the way. Moreover, I have been reassured that this line of work doesn't entail too much specialization in one task, and that everyone, including the interns, at Echelon has opportunities to execute on original research ideas using the firm's resources. It has been a pleasure working with Echelon, and I would encourage anyone interested in developing data science and research skills in a real-world setting with access to up-to-date, proprietary data to consider interning with them.
- Atticus Hatfield
2020 Intern Reflection:
As an intern at Echelon, I’ve been expected to help out in various long-term and smaller projects. These have included data collection and processing, working on the backend of survey reports, and researching ways to automate data-cleaning methods. Additionally, the work culture at Echelon is such that I’ve been able to start my own personal projects analyzing the data we have and getting involved in specific work that I’m particularly interested in. Although the virtual nature of my internship has limited in-person interactions, the office culture has made it so that it’s easy to approach everyone on staff and learn about their work and experience.
I think having a basic interest and experience in data analysis and opinion research is especially useful for interning at Echelon. Echelon provides a great foundation to build on these interests through all sorts of projects, and I’ve really been able to get an idea of all sorts of fields of data science. Thus, taking classes or working on projects related to these topics would be great preparation for interning at Echelon.
-Ethan Lee '23
2019 Intern Reflection:
My time at Echelon has been fairly busy, with a wide variety of tasks and projects covering pretty much every aspect of this small firm. As Echelon is primarily focused on social media analytics, a majority of my time has been dedicated to figuring out ways to web scrape better data from online forums. I’ve also spent time on figuring out ways to automate certain tasks at the firm, and this effort has really saved us time we would have normally spent doing such tasks on our own. A the end of the summer I was more focused on machine learning for predictive analytics in the political realm with the data that Echelon gathers from its own surveys.
Given the small size of the firm, it’s pretty easy for an intern like me to take on meaningful tasks that truly add value to the firm. Though the office is quiet throughout the day, the team has been so friendly and eager to learn about me and my interests, making my time at Echelon a very comfortable experience. That being said, a future intern with interest in data science and solid Python/R skills would also perform well at Echelon. Experience with data wrangling, web scraping, machine learning, and general programming would also be beneficial. An interest in survey design or techniques wouldn’t hurt either.
Steven Espinoza '20
2018 Intern Reflection:
Echelon Insights is a polling and data analytics firm headquartered in Alexandria, VA founded by two top Republican pollsters, Patrick Ruffini and Kristen Soltis Anderson, a former IOP Fellow. As part of my job, I help prepare the background research for Kristen’s weekly podcast, work on the backend side of the Optimizing Listening service, and am currently designing a web application to automate a message testing service for our clients. The office culture is nerdy and fun; it’s small, so it’s very close-knit. People are really invested in what they’re doing and often work late.
In terms of preparation, I found it helpful to have taken CS 50 and CS 124 before starting at Echelon. It might also be helpful to take Ec 970 or have experience with R in addition to Python and SQL. I would highly encourage anyone with a technical background who wants to work in an environment where they are given a lot of responsibility to consider an internship here, and especially so if you can eat through the constant surplus of jalapeño chips in the office that no one except Kristen seems to like.
Emily Shen '20
2017 Intern Reflection:
This summer, I worked at Echelon Insights on polling projects and data analysis. Both founders are both well-known Republican pollsters in the public service sector that started this relatively new company. Because of the company’s young age and smaller staff, I was expected to fill many roles and took an active part in the day-to-day affairs. Coming into the job with little experience in data analysis meant that the staff did not start me out on statistics heavy projects. Instead, I started off with a large amount of research and summaries of available public polling for the office and Echelon’s clients. I was also tasked with preparing the background research and polling guide for the cofounder's weekly podcast, “The Pollsters.” As I gained a little more experience in how the polling industry worked later into the internship, the staff assigned me to a larger role in projects.
The office culture is quiet, so you may be working on your own for most of the day. A strong background in statistics and data analysis is a plus for this internship. The staff tends to assign jobs based on proficiency, so if you have experience you will get more intensive assignments. As someone who had minimal experience, I started on things at an elementary level and worked my way up. For example, rather than working directly on their FCC database, I started by programming new entries. Overall, this internship was a valuable opportunity not only to experience the data side of politics, but also to get real experience in a work place.
Tyler Jenkins '19