Alex is a third-year PhD student in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), and a Communication Advisor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Why did you become a Communication Advisor?
I became a Communication Advisor on the belief that soft skills (e.g., communication) serve as brokers for good ideas to the benefit of both individuals and communities. I wanted to improve my own professional communication and help realize an emphasis on these skills within the department.
What have you learned from your Advisor experience?
In addition to a wealth of best practices in writing and presenting, I have learned just how aware MIT graduate students are of the importance of communication. They understand that they can’t build their startup, push their ideas through in industry, develop a research program, or even teach without being able to ignite both understanding and motivation in their audiences. I see new contexts outside my own career goals where the story is the same: graduates in the new economy must communicate effectively in order to thrive.
How do you think that the Advisor experience will help you with your career goals?
In addition to the experience of advising others, the communication skills I gain through teaching will help propel me through just about every stage of my career. I plan to become an academic, which entails a great deal of the art of persuasion. You must persuade a university to hire you, persuade large organizations to fund you, persuade conferences and journals to publish your work, persuade a tenure committee that your work has been valuable and creative—and hopefully persuade some piece of the world to improve based upon your ideas. Science and technology are necessary, but not sufficient, to accomplish all of these steps. In other words, science never speaks for itself.