Frequently Asked Questions 

 

How can I apply?
Most positions require that you complete the J-PAL/IPA common application, which includes a CV/resume, statement of purpose (cover letter), transcripts, an explanation of international and developing country experience, languages, and a list of courses taken in economics, mathematics, and statistics. Some positions also require letters of recommendation. On the common application, you can select the types of positions and locations for which you would like to be considered.  If you are interested in a specific position, please also follow the instructions found on the job description, which may require you to send your documents directly to the hiring manager. For more information, see the page, “How to Apply”.

What do I do if I need help with my application?
As a first step, read through the rest of this FAQ. Should you have technical difficulties with the common application, contact jobs@povertyactionlab.org. If your inquiry requires action on our part, we will respond to you within five business days.

The system is telling me my documents won’t upload. What’s wrong?
If you are having trouble uploading your supporting documents, go ahead and try a different Internet browser. This should solve your problem. If it doesn’t, contact jobs@povertyactionlab.org.

I can’t remember my login information. What do I do?
On the J-PAL/IPA common application homepage, click ‘Forgot your password?’ and follow the instructions.

I am not authorized to work in the United States, does this mean I can't work for J-PAL?
Unfortunately, J-PAL is rarely able to provide visa sponsorship for U.S. based positions. However, simply because you are unable to work in the U.S. does not mean you can’t work elsewhere. J-PAL and partner organizations have positions throughout the world, and work authorization requirements differ from country to country.  It is important for you to complete the work authorization section of the J-PAL/IPA common application, since that will filter which positions you are able to apply for.

I was just informed that my application has been marked inactive. I want to apply to another position, what do I do?
You likely received this notification because you have not signed into your application for over 6 months. Signing in will re-activate your account.

Is J-PAL recruitment ongoing, or does it just occur during the annual recruitment drive?
The bulk of our hiring is done during the recruitment drive, however hiring managers act according to their own timeline, and are free to post positions whenever they need to. Please check our jobs page for up to date job openings.

What is a transcript, and where can I get one?
A transcript is a document from your university, listing the courses you’ve taken, or are currently taking, and the grades that you’ve received in each course. Your university can provide you with your transcript. Please note, we accept unofficial transcripts.

I emailed my application to jobs@povertyactionlab.org, is that ok?
In order to be considered, please make sure you follow the application instructions included in each of our job descriptions.  Most of our positions require you to apply for positions through the J-PAL/IPA Common Application, but again specific application instructions are found in all of our job descriptions. If you simply email your application to jobs@povertyactionlab.org, you will not be considered for hire.

In many of your jobs descriptions, you state that candidates should be trained in microeconomics, econometrics, statistics, and advanced math. I have taken some of those courses, but not all. Am I still able to apply?
Yes, we prefer candidates who meet the basic requirements listed in our job descriptions, but you are still able to apply without having met all of them. If this is the case, we would encourage you to discuss in your personal statement how you strive to meet our criteria.

When will I know if I'm going to be interviewed or offered a job?
Both recruitment and hiring throughout the J-PAL network are highly decentralized. Each hiring manager and professor acts according to his/her own personal timeline, and only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted. Because of the decentralized nature of the hiring process throughout the network, we are unable to provide feedback on the status of specific applications.

How can I make my application stand out?
As you can imagine, we receive hundreds of applications from incredibly bright and qualified candidates. A few things that stand out, especially in personal statements, are (1) candidates’ ability to talk about the work that J-PAL does, with a solid understanding of RCTs (or for more entry level positions, a desire to further learn about RCTs), (2) that they’ve read Poor Economics, and (3) that candidates have taken, or are planning to take, J-PAL’s EdX course, RCT 101x: Evaluating Social Programs.

What do you expect for a statement of purpose?
Statements of purpose for positions at J-PAL or IPA can be written as either cover letters or personal statements like the ones you may have written for university applications. They should be at least one page long, but no more than two. In the body of the text, please discuss your experience with, and knowledge of, randomized evaluations. Make sure to include information about your work history in research, policymaking, or international development. If you have worked or lived abroad, please include this, emphasizing experiences in developing countries. An explanation of why you’re interested in working for J-PAL/IPA is also preferred.

How should I complete the “Countries” section of the J-PAL/IPA common application?
In the “Countries” section of the common application, select all countries where you are willing to work and where you have existing work authorization. For example, if you have dual citizenship between Japan and the United States, you have a work permit for Ghana, and you would like to work in the Philippines, you should select “Authorized to Work In?” for Japan, the United States, and Ghana, and “Interested to Work In?” for the Philippines.

What kinds of positions are usually available?
J-PAL and its partner organizations employ more than 600 people, with most positions being research-focused.

See the job categories page for more details on position types, and application page for more information on how to apply to the common application and individual positions.

Are Project Associate and Research Associate positions entry-level positions?
While they are not appropriate for someone with a PhD, they can be appropriate for people with a master’s and some experience, particularly if the objective is to gain hands-on experience with field research. They can also be good opportunities for people who are looking for a more limited time commitment of one or two years (each job posting lists the desired commitment period).

What is the pay usually like?
Terms and conditions of employment (including pay) vary by job and with the candidate’s experience. In general, field-based PAs/RAs are paid a salary similar to a small stipend for living expenses in addition to airfare, health insurance, and visa costs. US-based positions and mid-level positions at J-PAL’s regional offices (e.g. research manager, policy manager) pay salaries competitive for the international development, nonprofit sector.

What kinds of people usually get hired?
Since J-PAL is a research network of economists, candidates who have completed and performed well in basic coursework in economics, including microeconomics, development economics, and econometrics are preferred, especially for policy and operations track positions. For RA positions, we look for candidates with strong STATA skills and prior experience managing data collection. For positions based in developing countries, prior developing country experience is highly valued, and local language skills are desirable (and in the case of Spanish and French speaking countries, fluency is required). Most employees have either a bachelor's or a master's degree.

What do J-PAL positions lead to?
Many of those who have worked with the J-PAL network in the past have gone on to graduate studies, including at MIT (PhD in economics), Harvard (PhD in economics, law school, medical school, MPA/ID at the Kennedy School), Berkeley (PhD in economics), and other top schools. This partly reflects the quality of people who are accepted to these positions, but also the fact that our staff and others we work with acquire a range of important skills and experiences on the job.

J-PAL and many of its partners are growing organizations. Many mid-level positions are open for internal promotion. These positions may be field-based (e.g. Research Manager or Country Director positions) or US-based positions in research, policy, or training.

Check out this video of Shawn Cole, J-PAL affiliate and board member, giving a glimpse into life as an RA, and the opportunities that exist after J-PAL.

Are there any summer internship opportunities available? How do I apply?
The easiest way to find out about internship opportunities with J-PAL and partner organizations is to check our jobs site, filtering by internship - all current opportunities will be posted.  Innovations for Poverty Action and the Centre for Microfinance hold drives for summer internships, which usually begin in January. They will also occasionally post specific internship positions at other times of the year. J-PAL sometimes recruits for specific internship positions, the postings of which can be found on this site. J-PAL does not have an internship drive in the same manner as the above organizations.

What if I've applied for a job in the past?
If you previously submitted an application using the J-PAL/IPA common application system and now are interested in applying for a new position that is accepting applications through the common application, we ask that you sign in to your existing account, and revise your old application rather than creating a new username and password.  Please remember to update your earliest available start date. You can use existing letters of recommendation, or request new ones. If you’d like old or outdated letters to be removed from your application, please inform us by emailing jobs@povertyactionlab.org, specifying which letters you’d like deleted. Once your application is updated, click submit.

What if I'm currently employed by a J-PAL or IPA affiliate and want to apply for one of these openings?
People with previous experience on randomized evaluations can be great candidates for other positions within the network that require more responsibility. If you are currently employed by someone in the J-PAL network and are hoping to switch to a new position, project, or location, please talk with your supervisor(s) and principal investigator(s) about your goals and your plans in addition to applying.

I am applying for a position with J-PAL South Asia, and I used to be eligible for a PIO card. I am unable to select this work authorization in your common application. How come?
The PIO Card scheme has been withdrawn by the Government of India. All PIO applications, pending with the Mission for processing, are being returned to the applicants with a request to apply for an OCI card on the same fee prescribed for the PIO card. Henceforth, applicants may apply for an OCI card ONLY, as the PIO card scheme is no longer in existence. If you had originally selected 'I am eligible for a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card' when completing your application, please be sure to update your work permissions, as this is no longer accurate.