8 Questions with Rachel Schwartz

November 28, 2017 | News

In “8 Questions With…,” we share a brief Q&A with a staff member. In this edition, we hear from Rachel Schwartz, Project Associate, who joined Rosov Consulting (RC) in 2016 with a background in program implementation and evaluation.


1. What's your area(s) of expertise and how has it been beneficial and led to success in your work?

Over the course of my career, I have developed experience in project management and assessment communications. In my previous job (read the next question for more on this!) I managed the administration of a national survey — everything from recruiting college campus participants to tweeting the results. My experience managing a cast of research characters, both on the ground in my office and in various university departments across the country, now helps me manage RC projects with clients across the globe. Having endured lots of back and forth with the marketing team in writing material that was both true to our data but also pithy and attention-grabbing, I gained expertise in telling a compelling data story that I now use in reporting our findings to clients.

2. What experiences have led you into your current career path?

In my last job, I was on the Assessment Team at a nonprofit called Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), whose mission is to partner with higher education institutions to elevate the civic priority of interfaith cooperation. As I mentioned above, I helped manage a national survey on the religious climate of college campuses. I wrote about our findings on social media, helped write reports about our data, and worked with campuses to implement data-based changes to establish an interfaith prayer and reflection room, for example. Beyond assessment, I also mentored students on campus who were planning interfaith social justice campaigns and trained student leaders at our national conferences.

Building interfaith cooperation has been my personal mission since college. Working at IFYC was my first step toward that, and it is what inspired me to use and build my evaluation skills in support of my own Jewish world. After all, what is interfaith cooperation without strong faith communities?

3. What do you like learning about most through your work?

I like learning how to be a better writer, how to draw big picture conclusions from our data, and how to tell a story that is both true and useful. Moving from detailed data analysis to crafting narratives, determining which findings are most important to report, and making inferences and recommendations is a fun challenge and learning opportunity.

4. What do you like most about working at Rosov Consulting?

One thing I have appreciated about RC is that I feel like my professional development is valued and nurtured. From mastering tasks that I do not, at first, know how to do, to participating in webinars, to attending conferences, I really feel like I am learning and growing.

5. What are some challenges of your work?

While I love working at home — which affords me quiet, uninterrupted work time (as well as the ability to do laundry when nobody else in my building needs the machine) —I also love our team, and it is difficult to be away from them. If I have a question or want to brainstorm about something, or if I just need some human contact, it’s slightly more difficult than if I worked in the Berkeley office. The camaraderie that we have built over Slack and Zoom has made a big difference, but I still sometimes have FOMO (fear of missing out).

6. What have been the biggest changes in the field and/or your work specifically since you started?

I started about a year and a half ago, which is a lot of time and no time at all. While the field itself doesn’t seem to have changed much in that time, I sure have. As time goes on, I am getting more and more comfortable with the tasks on my plate — opening me up to new challenges, more growth, and gaining a greater ability to make a difference.

7. How do you think your job and/or the field might change in the next 10 years?

As America’s younger and older generations drift further away from each other politically, I wonder whether the Jewish world is mirroring this trend. I remember one one-off comment a client made about an organization many of my peers consider “pro-Israel,” saying that it was no such thing. As foundations and organizations run by Baby Boomers try to engage Millennials and their children, I will be keeping my eye on how these political divisions may or may not become more salient.

8. What do you think is essential reading to excel in your field?

American Grace by Robert Putnam and David Campbell. It tells a story about the evolution of religion in America. One takeaway for me was that the graph of American religiosity has, thus far, looked more wavelike than linear. America cycles between religiosity and secularism. One cannot necessarily extrapolate from the current increase in secularism that religion is doomed to die out.