An MIT Farewell
From Hacker News, it was with a little trepidation that I followed the link to Evan Jones Farewell to MIT. I often find personal stories highlighted by the HNers to reflect outlier experiences with little insight. I’m always curious about varied perspectives on my alma mater, but I wasn’t holding out high hopes.
Turns out Jones had a nicely written and thought out look back on his time at the ‘Tute. First, he did graduate with a Doctorate, no small feat. Second, he learned that he wasn’t cut out to be a professor. From personal experience, way better to learn this earlier rather than later. Finally, he had this really poignant observation about graduate life:
I also learned how to do academic research. While my publication record is not stellar, it is also not terrible. Many people have written better graduate school advice than I could, so I won’t try. However, there is one important piece of advice I wish I could give to my past self, when I started my PhD: Actively collaborate with others.
Wish I would have learned that lesson earlier myself. I’ll add that this is also quite applicable to faculty members and industrial researchers. For academics it’s hard because of credit assignment and promotion. Still that was the most rewarding part of my former professorial life. Industrial researchers can be forced by management to “work together” but it’s actually pretty easy to run off in a corner and hide.
That’s why tribal development is one of my 2012 resolutions. Now if it were only easy to find top notch collaborators!!