The RAND Corporation is a nonpartisan think tank with a 70+ year history of public policy thought leadership, particularly in national security and defense. A nonprofit, RAND filled a critical role for policymakers throughout the Cold War and into the 21st century as a trusted and authoritative hub of critical policy research and analysis, and was a prototype for the broad range of public policy think tanks and consultancies that have sprung up today. If your interests overlap with the issues the RAND Corporation works on, and influencing critical U.S. policy debates resonates with you, the RAND Corporation may be the right next step for you.
Table of Contents:
- Firm Key Stats
- Rand Corporation History
- Rand Corporation Careers
- Rand Corporation Internship
- Practice Areas
- Rand Corporation Locations
- Career Path
- Exit Opportunities
- Target Schools
- Diversity Programs
- Rand Corporation Culture
- Rand Corporation Interview
- Rand Corporation Salary
Firm Key Stats
Firm Website: www.rand.org
Firm Headquarters: Santa Monica, California
Firm Number of Employees: 1,770
Firm Number of Locations: 48 countries
Firm Chief Executive: Jason Matheny
Firm Revenue: $346 million, FY2021
Rand Corporation History
The RAND Corporation’s history begins in 1948 when executives at the Douglas Aircraft Company, in Santa Monica, California, realized that the end of World War 2 meant that the vast brain power that had been assembled to fight the Axis powers would disperse. Without intentional intervention, the United States would fall behind the cutting edge of technology and be vulnerable to rising threats such as the Soviet Union. They assembled a cadre of Ph.D.’s, scientists, researchers and policy experts in what was originally coined “Project RAND.” The name “RAND” was an acronym for “research and development.” In 1946, Project RAND issued its first report, “Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship.”
Project RAND rapidly grew to a team of 200 staff and in 1948, was spun off from Douglas as a nonprofit corporation whose mission was “[t]o further and promote scientific, educational, and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare and security of the United States of America.” The RAND Corporation went on to shape U.S. policy and doctrine for the duration of the Cold War, including developing the nuclear doctrine of “Mutually-Assured Destruction” – i.e., any use of nuclear weapons by the United States or Russia would guarantee the annihilation of both nations. (Perhaps understandably, the Soviets wryly referred to RAND as “the Academy of Death and Destruction”).
RAND also made significant contributions regarding the Space Race, the creation of the “Great Society” social welfare programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and a variety of other areas. Today, the RAND Corporation conducts and publishes research in an even broader range of fields, ranging from artificial intelligence to child policy, environmental policy and disaster preparation and management. However, much of its work remains close to its roots in international affairs and national defense.
Rand Corporation Careers
RAND Corporation careers tend to attract highly-educated researchers and subject matter experts who strongly value RAND’s focus on objectivity and excellence. Unlike traditional consulting engagements, RAND Corporation’s reputation is built on delivering academic and analytical rigor, independence and impartiality – regardless of what the client would like to hear.
Rand Corporation Internship
A RAND Corporation internship can take many forms. Their Summer Associate program allows graduate students in their second year or later of a doctoral or professional degree program to experience life at RAND for a 12-week period while working full-time on research at one of RAND’s offices in Santa Monica, CA, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, PA or Boston, MA. Students receive a stipend of approximately $14,000 to work on research that can be completed during their 12 week term.
For those students not yet enrolled in a graduate program, RAND also hosts the Pardee RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, which offers a M.Phil or a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis. Each year, the program admits 20-25 exceptional students from a variety of countries and undergraduate majors who share a passion for public policy and making the world a better place. The Ph.D. program is fully funded by scholarships and fellowships, and significant scholarships are available for the M.Phil program as well.
RAND also offers a variety of fellowships such as the Asia Pacific Fellows program, the Stanton Nuclear Security Fellows Program, and the Military Fellows Program.
RAND focuses almost exclusively on public policy analysis and research.
- Children, Families and Communities
- Cyber and Data Sciences
- Education and Literacy
- Energy and Environment
- Health, Health Care and Aging
- Homeland Security and Public Safety
- Infrastructure and Transportation
- International Affairs
- Law and Business
- National Security and Terrorism
- Science and Technology
- Social Equity
- Workers and the Workplace
Rand Corporation Locations
RAND Corporation locations include offices across North America, Europe and Australia. Along with its headquarters in Santa Monica, California, RAND has a presence in:
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
- Canberra, Australia
The work performed at the RAND Corporation is often academic in nature, and career advancement there has similarities with academia as well. Your RAND Corporation career path will be accelerated by publishing papers and developing original research. The Ph.D. degree is valued for advancing to more senior positions, similar to a top-tier MBA in the consulting world. As your research receives recognition, you will compete with other researchers for a limited number of management roles that involve budget management and client relations in addition to overseeing research.
Typical RAND Corporation exit opportunities include roles at other think tanks, academia, and policymaking roles in government.
Notable RAND Corporation alumni include:
- Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State (1973-1977)
- John von Neumann, mathematician, physicist, and father of the modern digital computer
- Samuel Cohen, inventor of the neutron bomb
- Harry Markowitz, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, founder of CACI International
- John Forbes Nash, Jr., mathematician, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, developed the Nash equilibrium in game theory
- Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State (2001-2005)
- Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense (1975-1977; 2001-2006)
- Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff
RAND Corporation target schools include a range of Master’s and Ph.D. programs in topics covered by RAND’s research, particularly Ivy League public policy programs and RAND’s own Pardee RAND Graduate School.
RAND Corporation diversity programs include their NextGen Initiative, which promotes civic engagement and interest in public policy careers among minorities and youth with backgrounds not commonly seen in the policy world, as well as their Inclusive Leadership Development Program, which trains middle managers on how to foster diversity, equity and inclusion for their teams at RAND. The Pardee RAND Graduate School’s Faculty Leaders Program offers fellowships to faculty members at colleges and universities serving demographics that are underrepresented in public policy. Also, RAND hosts a range of employee resource groups, including Black Employees Leading in Inclusion, Equity, Vision and Education (BELIEVE), Disability Empowerment and Visibility Organization (DEVO), Enrichment for Asian American and Pacific Islander Culture and Heritage (EACH), Latinx y Mas, and a LGBTQ+ ERG.
Rand Corporation Culture
Current and former employees agree that RAND Corporation culture is extraordinarily smart, hardworking, helpful and collaborative, and cite intellectually stimulating, impactful work, good work-life balance and flexible working arrangements as significant perks.
However, employees were critical of RAND’s “internal job market” in which researchers must compete internally to staff projects, along with below-market wages, organizational politics, a lack of managerial support as well as concerns with dysfunctional organizational processes and ambiguous promotion criteria.
Rand Corporation Interview
Most candidates reported that interviewers were laid-back and friendly. RAND Corporation interviews heavily focus on understanding how you approach novel problems. Expect to walk the interviewer through your past research projects and your research interests or methodological choices in specific projects. Some interviewers also asked questions gauging policy awareness and knowledge, such as “What is the most pressing question for national security in the next five years?”
Firm Interview Process
The RAND Corporation interview process typically includes 2-3 rounds that cover behavioral questions, an overview of the candidate’s research experience, and sometimes, a public policy case study. However, the case study is not the traditional consulting case study – expect a scenario that asks you to frame research around a difficult or unfamiliar public policy question.
Rand Corporation Salary
RAND Corporation salaries across the board are lower than salaries for comparable years of experience at MBB. At the entry level, Research Assistants average approximately $49K. Policy Analysts and other Researcher roles average from $60K to around $80K, while Senior Analyst roles approach $120K. Director-level roles pay anywhere between $180K-300K. For a look at salaries for hundreds of firms across the consulting industry, click here for our salaries report.
The RAND Corporation attracts some of the most accomplished and passionate researchers and policy professionals in the world. If you are motivated by impacting the leading edge of social research and global public policy discussions, you will likely find a career at RAND immensely satisfying. And, RAND’s alumni roster, a “who’s who” of public figures who left an indelible mark on history, is proof that having RAND on your resume can set you up for an influential career at the highest levels of government or thought leadership.
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