Call for Applications: Summer Associate Program

MacroPolo is the in-house think tank of the Paulson Institute in Chicago. We decode China’s economic arrival with incisive market-relevant analysis and creative research products. We are building a 21st century think tank that specializes in thoughtfully-designed digital interactives, data-driven products, and differentiated analysis. Our work currently spans three core areas: economics, technology, and politics.

We are seeking highly-qualified undergraduate and graduate students to constitute our second cohort of Summer Associates. We are not looking for anonymous research assistants or fact-checkers. Instead, we want to cultivate emerging talent and promote your work. We are unique in offering you the opportunity to shape, produce, and possibly even lead substantive work. We will ensure you spend time working with our experts and meeting external specialists.

From June 8 – August 14, 2020, you will work on your own project in our downtown Chicago office. In addition to all think tank events, such as our “Decoding China” series, you will also participate in activities specifically crafted for Summer Associates, such as networking lunches, research presentations, and social events in Chicago. We provide a competitive stipend.

Our inaugural Summer Associates were Eliot Chen and Lauren Baker, who both published well-received research with MacroPolo in Summer 2019. Eliot conducted a quantitative analysis of US and Chinese media coverage of Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” policy. Lauren wrote an interview-based case study about perceptions of Chinese foreign investment in Mozambique.

Here’s what they had to say:

The Summer Associate program allowed me to pursue what interested me and to lead my own project. I really appreciated having the freedom to work independently, while also getting valuable feedback and support from colleagues in the office.”
– Eliot Chen

It was a refreshing change of pace to have an entire team excited and enthusiastic about my research and my ideas. I would recommend the Summer Associate program to anyone with a unique project who is ready to dive in from day one.”
– Lauren Baker

This year, we invite applications from two types of candidates: researchers and creatives.

If you are a researcher, we want you to pitch us an original research project in the field of economics, technology, or politics that seeks to deliver interesting conclusions or yield new perspectives about important issues in China or about China’s impact on the world. Your project could take the form of an in-depth analysis, a series of commentaries, an interactive data visualization, or any other type of content that has merit. We are persuadable! Advanced proficiency in Mandarin Chinese is highly preferred but not essential and will be evaluated in the context of your other skills and experiences. You are also welcome to pitch original contributions to existing MacroPolo projects.

If you are a creative, we want you to pitch us either an original project that offers a new angle on China’s economic arrival, or a plan that would help us build new products and/or improve our content delivery. Design, web development, and video production are just some of the skill-sets that could work well for these pitches. You could work on new social media campaigns, develop your own mini-video series with a China twist, or write and produce a multimedia package about US-China. Chinese language proficiency is a bonus but not necessary.

For both types of applicants, your cover letter should take the form of a one-page “pitch” letter in which you describe your proposed project, the sources and methodologies that you will use, the type of findings you expect to produce, and the format of the final project that you will deliver. Since any idea is only as good as its execution, you must also show us how this project can be completed within a 10-week program.

We encourage students of all backgrounds to apply, but we unfortunately cannot provide visas. Please confirm in your résumé that you have authorization to work legally in the United States.

The application deadline is 11:59pm US Central Time, Tuesday, January 21, 2020. This is a competitive program, so please submit your application on time for consideration.

To apply, please send, as separate Microsoft Word attachments, a one-page pitch letter, a one-page résumé, a short English-language writing sample (or other relevant sample of your previous work), and contact details for two referees (one academic, one professional) to both Neil Thomas at and Holly He and