At my job’s end-of-semester meeting, I was asked what I was most proud of. “My staff!” was the first thing that popped in my head. The thought came as a flash, and after a moment of reflection, I confirmed out loud that I couldn’t think of anything other than, indeed, my staff.
Earlier this year, MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering had decided to follow the lead of the Department of Biological Engineering, and established a communication resource “for scientists, by scientists.” A few months later, that’s when four graduate students and I came in. As I wrote for our lab’s webpage:
The mission of the NSE Communication Lab is to empower students to become confident and effective communicators. By offering content-specific support in written, oral, and visual communication, we help NSE students build the skills necessary to help spread knowledge in research, advocate for innovative endeavors, and educate the public in areas of nuclear science and technology.
Since September, our lab hosted a total of 89 one-on-one sessions. We helped students and post-docs with a wide spectrum of documents, including research manuscripts, thesis proposals, slide presentations, resumes and cover letters, as well as fellowship, graduate school, and faculty applications.
With these numbers and the incredible feedback we’ve received from clients and professors, I couldn’t be more proud of Mareena, Jake, John, and Alex. “You are the first team of NSE communication fellows, and together we’re going to do amazing things!” I remember telling them when we first met. Below are pictures from their first full day of training.
This might be a good time to also acknowledge Dr. David Carpenter, NSE post-doc and friend of mine, who stepped in as our official photographer. While my group was excited about the opportunity to enjoy part of a gorgeous September day outside, Dave remained focused and positively professional. “Can I have three people on one side, and two on the other… now turn your shoulder toward me…” He kept us on track and delivered gorgeous photos by the end of the day. Naturally, I was pleased when he was hired a few weeks later for his photography services at a departmental event.
And one piece of advice for anyone considering taking photos at an all-day workshop or retreat, especially for marketing purposes: as fun as it might be to conclude the program with pictures, consider having those taken in the morning around, say, 10 or 11 am. People are awake and still looking fresh, unlike the tired looks you’ll get six hours later!