Julie Belanger - Research Leader, RAND Europe

Julie Belanger

Research Leader, RAND Europe

I was born/grew up in: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I now live in: London, United Kingdom

I completed my training/education at: McGill University and the University of British Columbia

Describe what you do at work.

My work involves helping teachers, schools, governments and other decision-makers better understand how to improve education in their classrooms, schools and education systems as a whole. To this, I design studies to answer specific research questions. These studies involve all kinds of methods to collect information and data at all these levels. I work together with big teams of researchers, some who will go in classrooms to collect data, others who analyse large amounts of data statistically (like student test results or school drop-out rates for example). Because I am involved in international research, I work with governments and researchers from around the world and travel a lot to collaborate with them. Speaking three languages helps me with this aspect of my work. My training in STEM subjects have helped me develop the skills I needed to become a great researcher. I use scientific research methods, math and statistics almost everyday.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

I think the work I do is incredibly important. Improving education will help generations of future students learn the skills that they need to be successful in life. It can also help narrow the gaps between the opportunities of less advantages students and more advantaged students. It can help teachers be better prepared for their work.

What motivates you in your career?

I get motivated by the fact that my work has a real impact in the world. I help provide answers to questions which will improve the lives of others. Like having to find the best ways to answer these questions - the best ways to design studies which will be scientifically rigorous, but also useful. I also love to travel and my work provides me with many opportunities to travel abroad to learn about different education systems, their strengths and weaknesses, and to meet those who care about improving education.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

I had no idea I would do what I do today. I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I was in high school. I liked math and science, but also humanities subjects, so decided to go into psychology and linguistics at the university level. There, I learned how to conduct research and met great mentors who helped me find my passion in research. I continued to study until I completed my PhD in psychology and then decided to go into applied education research. A friend of mine from graduate school had started to work for a research institute doing this type of work and I thought it would be a good fit for me as well. This first job then led to another job in Paris, then another job in London. I have been working and living in Europe now for seven years doing international research.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I like to run, play the piano, train and teach karate, spend time cuddling with my dog and travel with my husband to discover the world.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Keep an open mind - you never know where life will lead you!

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit http://www.explorecuriocity.org/careers.