Why I Decided to Start a Blog and What to Expect
Hi! I’m Adrian Ildefonso and I’m a Ph.D. Candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. I’m originally from a small town in Puerto Rico called Arroyo. I study how radiation affects the performance of electronic systems so that we can build more robust electronics for satellites and other space exploration vehicles. I am a fan of craft beer, cocktails, and recently started baking bread. I’m also a leadership coach at Georgia Tech. If you’re interested, you can learn more about me here.
I decided to start a blog! In my first post, you can read about why I’ve decided to start blogging after many years of wanting to do it. You can also read about some of the themes that I will include in my future posts.
Why I decided to start a blog
I’m a big fan of the New Year and the feeling of a “fresh start” that comes with it. After many years of telling myself that I would start a blog, I finally decided to commit to doing it. Here are a few reasons why:
Helping current and future grad students achieve their goals is important to me. We know that grad school is hard… in many ways! I’m starting my (hopefully) last semester in grad school and I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way. My goal is to continue to an academic position where I get to work with students to advise them and teach them how to do research. The nature of my research (a big part of it is done off-site and experiments are limited) gives me a unique perspective on things like time management, prioritizing tasks, planning long-term research objectives and working with limited access to resources. I want to put together a collection of resources and of the lessons I’ve learned that may be of benefit to more novice grad students (including the students of my future research group!).
Student outreach and mentorship are important to me. Growing up, I never knew going to grad school was a possibility. I thought getting a Ph.D. was only for people who wanted to teach, and I definitely did not want to be a professor. Well, a lot has changed since then! I’ve met so many amazing scientists and engineers with a Ph.D. that are not professors. And I do want to be a professor now… but that’s a story for a different day. On a recent trip to my undergrad institution, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, I met many students with similar misconceptions. I want to use this space to reach out to students to help them understand whether grad school is a good option for them.
I love writing and want to do it more. I used to write a lot when I was in high school and through undergrad. I was always writing short stories and even started writing a novel once (though admittedly, I did not get too far!). One of my goals in life is to write a sci-fi novel (or a whole series!). In the past few years, I’ve written several academic papers, which has made my fiction writing a bit dry and somehow lacking in creativity. I want to exercise my writing muscles and improve my non-technical writing. This blog will serve as an additional place to do that.
What to Expect from this Blog
This blog is meant to be a collection of resources for current and future grad students and academics. You can expect posts in several themes that promote professional and personal growth, drawing inspiration from leadership coaching strategies. Here are a few themes:
How can coaching techniques help me succeed with research and academic work? Navigating grad school and academia in general can be tricky. It’s often difficult to know whether our research will go anywhere. We’ve had to work with big personalities and harsh critics of our work. A lot of us have even had to fight ourselves every time we ask: “Am I good enough to be here?” (Hint: yes you are!). As a leadership coach at Georgia Tech, I’ve found that several practices that I’ve learned through my coaching training have helped me become a better researcher, teacher, and colleague. I hope to share some of these coaching practices with you and provide you with concrete examples of how to apply them to academic work.
How can we improve our daily lives and routines through experimentation? There are many articles, videos, and podcasts about how to be your best by having the best “anything”. The best morning routine. The best productivity hack. The best coffee. The best workout. Have you ever spent hours watching these videos in hopes of improving X, Y, Z in your life? I have. What I didn’t realize is that the best “anything” is relative, and different for every person. It wasn’t until I decided to treat all of this information as “experiments” that I started to find the things that were best for me. I hope to share some examples and techniques on how to develop these experiments, drawing inspiration from my coaching training.
How can we find and improve our unique mentorship styles? Whether we volunteer to mentor students or are assigned to do so, we rarely receive training on how to be good mentors. I’ve stumbled many times with my mentees as we try to figure out how to best work together. Being a mentor is particularly challenging because it is a different process for every mentorship relationship. That said, this is another area where my training as a leadership coach has helped me. I hope to share how we can design an alliance with our mentees and provide you with tools to help you discover the uniqueness in each of your mentorship relationships.
You can also expect general tips and tools to navigate grad school and do research. If any of this sounds interesting to you, follow me on Twitter to stay updated on when new posts are available. I hope to post new articles every other
Monday week (edit on 01/08/20) on a variety of topics surrounding these main themes. If you’d like to learn about a specific topic, reach out through email or Twitter!