Joel earned his doctorate in RLE and MTL and is now a postdoc.
What have you learned from your Advisor experience?
I’ve found that when it comes to communication, everyone can benefit from feedback from anyone. For example, when I was preparing for my thesis defense, I got incredibly useful feedback from both labmates and friends outside my field, even after many years of experience giving research talks on the same topic. As a coach, I’ve learned that it’s important to be open-minded and to distinguish between your personal preference and objectively correct communication. There’s often no single answer. As Advisors, we have the training and experience to suggest at least one good solution to most communication challenges, but there are often other solutions that are just as good or better.
How do you think that the Advisor experience will help you with your career goals?
People often say that grad school is about learning how to think and how to learn. This is no doubt true. But it’s also about learning how to communicate what you think and what you’ve learned. Effective communication is the most widely transferable skill a grad student can learn. As an EECS Communication Advisor, I’ve learned strategies and best practices for writing and presenting that will stick with me for the rest of my career as a scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur.
What’s your advice to someone skeptical about whether they have time to use the Comm Lab?
Just do it. There’s no guarantee that the Comm Lab can help you, but we have a good track record of helping people win fellowships, publish papers, and deliver awesome presentations. Think of it as a low-risk, high-return investment: In a one-hour coaching session, you might improve your paper or presentation by 10%—or maybe 100%. More importantly, you’ll build skills that are critical to your future success no matter what career you end up in. And if all else fails, at least there are free snacks.