Students Develop Research Skills at the Marist Poll

MIPO Offers Student Workers Social and Career Development Opportunities

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion, better known as the Marist Poll or MIPO, is one of Marist’s most widely known institutions. The survey research center, located right on campus in the Hancock building, was founded in 1978 and has been in successful operation ever since.

MIPO conducts polling on anything and everything, from sports to politics to spirituality. Marist students have a unique opportunity to work for this nationally acclaimed organization, as it was the first college-based polling center in the country.Marist Institute for Public Opinion. Photo by Sophia Brana.

“I started working for the Marist Poll initially because I needed a job and a friend recommended it to me. I thought I would move out of my comfort zone and try something new. Once I started working, I realized that I actually really enjoyed the Marist Poll and it became a great learning experience for me,” said senior Marist student Bronte More, who has been an employee at the Marist Poll for three years.

MIPO employs 176 students of all majors and class standings for their student interviewer position. This involves calling people across the country, getting their opinions on hot-button issues, and recording their answers into the MIPO system where they will go to the analysis team and eventually get disseminated to top news organizations around the country.

The results of these surveys are regularly featured in publications like the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post, as well as larger news organizations like NBC and ABC.

“Although I plan on pursuing a career in the fashion industry, and political science is much different from that field in many ways, the Marist Poll has helped me learn a lot about people in regards to demographics and psychographics,” said More.

Building people skills by interacting with individuals all across the country with very different backgrounds and viewpoints is just one of the many socially constructive benefits of working for the Marist Poll. Students also have the opportunity to meet like-minded classmates while working at the survey center.

More said that she has made some of her “closest friends” at Marist during her time at MIPO. “It’s a really great chance to meet people in person outside of your classes. You’re sitting next to other students all night and there are always chances to get to know each other.”

There are also many opportunities for growth within the institute for student workers. Interviewers who prove themselves to be passionate, successful, and integral members of the team can go on to become student coaches, who oversee the polling center and train new employees, or head coaches who work behind the scenes to assist full-time staff with projects and scheduling. Beyond that, students can even become mainstay members of the MIPO team.

“A lot of the adult employees who work there now started off as student interviewers. They were able to work in the offices, helping out behind the scenes and doing office work. From those positions some moved on to be data analyzers and assistant directors,” said student interviewer Gabrielle DeRario, who has been an employee for two years.

Many of the mainstay members of the MIPO team that DeRario refers to are actually former Marist students as well. Michael Conte, Assistant Director of the Survey Center and Data Management, graduated from Marist in 2012 and has been working at the Marist Poll ever since.

“Working at the Marist Poll really gives students a unique perspective in terms of witnessing current events. It allows them to learn about the news and develop their own opinions, all while getting paid to do so. They also get to see the results of their hard work on the major national partner organizations we have such as Wall Street Journal and NBC. They really get to see and participate in the whole process, start to finish,” said Conte.

Aside from all of the social opportunities and learning experiences the Marist Poll has to offer, More also cited the career-building aspect of being a MIPO employee. “It looks amazing on your resume. During a few of my interviews for internships, I had been asked a lot about what I did at the poll, and it’s led to some great conversations. I never realized how interested employers in the fashion industry would be about a completely different field.”

As a journalism major and former MIPO employee, I can personally attest to this career-building aspect. I started working at the Marist Poll during my freshman year when I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. I figured that developing phone and interview skills would be helpful with any major I chose, and I always had an interest in current events. Getting paid to develop those basic skills seemed like a win-win situation.

It turned out that those foundational skills I attained through my MIPO experience became integral to my role as a student journalist and editor. I became much more confident in myself and in my interactions with others, I learned more about the state of affairs than I ever would have elsewhere, and I made some great friends along the way.

Students who work at the Marist Poll gain invaluable knowledge and skill in the realms of communication, research, marketing, and psychology. These attributes can be useful in nearly all fields of study, which is why MIPO is one of the most popular destinations for students looking for on-campus jobs.

Written by Shannon Donohue '17
Photo by Sophia Brana '17

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