Brandeis Alumni in Government


Alumni: Miriam L. Gerver, '99

Government Agency: United States Census Bureau

1. What is your academic background (e.g., undergraduate major/minor, other education)?

I have a BA from Brandeis; I majored in Psychology and minored in NEJS. I have a Masters of Science in Survey Methodology from the University of Maryland. I studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem when I was an undergraduate and at the University of Essex (in England) while I was a graduate student.

2. Please describe your career and how it aligns with your interests.

As a survey methodologist, I conduct cognitive interviews and usability testing with companies throughout the U.S. in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Census Bureau's business surveys, and ultimately, economic data and indicators. I have always been interested in how people think, and what makes individuals have different perspectives, so my career in social science in general, and survey methodology specifically, aligns well this.

3. What is unique about your job?

I am always working on something different and learning new content areas. One month I can be working on a survey for biotech companies and another month I can be working on a survey for hospitals, oil companies, or manufacturers. I also travel fairly extensively and meet with individuals in different industries, so I never get bored.

4. Have you used Hiatt’s resources as a student or as an alum? If so, which services did you use and how have they helped you?    

After over ten years in the workforce I still use the same basic cover letter format that I got from the career center at Brandeis! When I was a student I found that it was helpful to look through the alumni career books just to see what types of jobs people had. I also took advantage of the career counseling appointments and the resource library.

5. What steps should students take during college to prepare for opportunities at organizations such as yours?

Because I work at a statistical agency, most positions require some amount of coursework in statistics or other quantitative subjects. If you think you want to work here, look up the positions you might be interested in to make sure that you’ll meet their specific qualifications.

6. How can a Brandeis student distinguish himself/herself from other students applying for a job with your organization?

Make sure that you have things on your resume that make you stand out, such as unique jobs or internships, study abroad, etc. A lot of people have good grades and it’s important to have more unique things on your resume that make you stand out from the thousands of other applicants.

7. Do you have any other advice for Brandeis students?

Do as much as you can to see what kinds of jobs are out there. When I was an undergrad I had no idea my current field of work even existed. Also, network and follow up with job applications and job leads; the squeaky wheel really does get the grease. Use sites like Monster.com and LinkedIn to network and find opportunities. If you can find a graduate program in a field that is interesting and marketable, you are golden.