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Developing the Next Generation of Researchers at KJT

KJT’s Project Support Team was created with a two-fold mission: to tackle overflow of the agency’s transactional research tasks, while teaching real-world skills to co-ops, interns and entry-level employees pursuing careers in market research.

The team is led by KJT’s Training and Development Manager, Ashley Olin, who oversees its performance and ensures alignment with the agency’s evolving research needs.

“Members of the Project Support Team have become an integral part of KJT, working hands-on with data, survey tools and reports,” said Ashley. “Their work helps maximize the agency’s efficiency by easing staff workloads, which enables full-time employees to focus on higher level, more strategic tasks. The program also helps develop next generation researchers – several of whom have become full-time KJT employees!”

Read on for Ashley’s perspective on the how the program works, why it’s important and what she looks for in the ideal candidate:

Finding the Right Fit:

“The KJT program is a great opportunity for current college students, recent graduates or entry-level employees looking to break into the world of market research. We require applicants to have studied within a relevant field, such as the social sciences or life sciences, and to have completed at least one Statistics class.

The most successful individuals I’ve seen come through the program have possessed both the requisite background skills and education, as well as the character traits that best match KJT’s corporate culture: teachability, humility, an open-mind, self-motivation, and strong critical thinking skills. When these tangibles and intangibles combine, Project Support Team members flourish, and may go on to become full-time KJT employees. In fact, several of our strongest researchers started as interns!”

 The Cohort Model

“We hire a new cohort three times per year, each consisting of 2-4 paid positions. Ideally, we’re looking for groups to work January through mid-May, mid-May through end of August, and September through December.

In the summer, we’re more focused on student interns, including undergraduate juniors/seniors, or recent graduates from specialized research programs. However, regardless of age, experience, or degree program, we’re ultimately looking for a culture fit. We had a college freshman this past summer who has facilitated positive change for KJT in more ways than one!

In the spring and fall, we’ve got more co-ops and entry-level candidates in the mix, so those cohorts are more reflective of a contractual employment model. Our spring 2022 session will consist of one recent graduate looking to gain research experience, and one recent PhD graduate, with plentiful work experience, who is seeking a career change. We’ve also had success bringing on students with plans to return to grad school in 4-5 months’ time, because the temporary employment model benefits them just as it does us.

Though we prefer to adhere to a full-time, 40 hour/week schedule, we treat our interns with the same respect for work-life balance as we treat our full-time employees: we’ll afford them the flexibility to make up hours should they have an appointment or emergency so long as they are diligent in having their work covered.”

Working as a Team

“Research intern/assistants perform a variety of tasks in the delivery of qualitative and quantitative market research projects. They are given their work assignments based on requests submitted by the KJT Research Department for overflow help and support at the beginning of each week. Synched to the current project pipeline, these submissions form the basis of the team’s weekly assignments. However, it goes without saying that additional needs pop up throughout the week, so our new Resource Manager helps to triage support requests as they occur.”

Assignments include, but are not limited to:

  • Assembling background information to educate team on new clients/therapy areas.
  • Modifying presentations with relevant project information.
  • Participating in the development of survey questionnaires and moderator discussion guides.
  • Testing survey programming to ensure thorough quality control protocols are executed.
  • Analyzing data and creating charts and tables to effectively communicate research results.
  • Completing open ended verbatim coding.
  • Creating Data Processing forms and/or Reporting Request forms.
  • Proofreading presentation materials, screeners, surveys and qualitative and quantitative reports for quality and flow.
  • Monitoring the quality and accuracy of data, survey tools, and reports/client deliverables.

Gaining Real-World Experience

“We designed the program to be an exploratory exercise for our interns, assistants and co-ops. Throughout the process we pay special attention to their interests and learning goals, ensuring that they’re introduced to key leaders across the company and included in client interactions.

In addition to each intern’s interests and learning goals, we pair them with a KJT new hire buddy—typically a more senior researcher who plays an active role in the intern’s skill development. New hire buddies play an integral role in lending real-life applications to an intern’s work. They may host shadows, invite the intern to their presentations, or allow them to ride along throughout the duration of any of their projects. This intern/buddy relationship is mutually beneficial in that it allows our employees to get a taste for leadership and grants them an “extra set of hands” if and when they need help.”

Helping KJT Better Serve Clients

“Members of KJT’s Project Support Team provide meaningful assistance to the company’s research function – which ultimately helps improve outcomes for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. These highly motivated individuals challenge the status quo, while injecting enthusiasm and fresh ideas into our organization. They have consistently improved the agency’s use of technology, which has boosted our overall efficiency and use of data.

In terms of sustainable growth, we are developing a pipeline of future employees, who can seamlessly transition from their previous roles on the Project Support Team to that of full-time researchers, maintaining a consistent face to the customer and further nurturing their trust. In times where recruiting, hiring, and engagement are so critical to the success of a business, the Project Support Team has really made us stronger as a company and more competitive as an employer.”